A study published in the Archives of Dermatology (August 2011) has found that weaves and tight braiding styles may contribute to a type of permanent hair loss that appears to be common among African American women.
The study, “Medical and Environmental Risk Factors for the Development of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia,” was led by Angela Kyei of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The study is based on health questionnaires and scalp examinations of 326 African American women, finding that more than one-quarter of the subjects experienced hair loss on the top of their scalp. Among the women who experienced hair loss, nearly 60 percent showed signs of “central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” also known as CCCAhai.
CCCA is a poorly understood form of baldness that begins at the crown of the head and leads to scarring.
While more than 90 percent of study participants used either hot comb treatments or chemical relaxers, neither was linked with CCCA in the study. Researchers did find links between the hair loss and braids, weaves, and other so-called traction hairstyles that tug at the scalp.
“Our survey results suggest there is a high prevalence of central hair loss among African American women,” wrote Angela Kyei, of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who led the study.
Though the findings couldn’t prove that hair grooming was at the base of the problem, women might still want to take them into consideration, she added.
Researchers found that women with type 2 diabetes were more likely to have scarring hair loss. While only 8 percent of the women overall had type 2 diabetes, 18 percent of those with CCCA did — a “surprising finding,” Kyei says. Also, women with bacterial scalp infections were more likely to experience CCCA, and women with the condition tended to have balding maternal grandfathers.
Braids, weaves and extensions are very popular, particularly among African American women. Fans of the styles often maintain them for long periods of time, and the stress they exert on the scalp can lead to the development of pus-filled bumps that eventually scar.
Nearly all of the study participants straightened their curls chemically and about one in six had scarring hair loss. More than half the women with this condition said they had braids, weaves or hair extensions, as compared to only a third of those with less severe hair loss.
“If there is any take-home message from this study, it is that hair grooming is not the only thing you should look at in these patients,” she added.
The study notes that women already losing their hair are more likely to favor braids, weaves and extensions because they help disguise thinning hair. Though women feel better when they look in the mirror, use of such hairstyles will only exacerbate the problem of hair loss and make matters worse.
As noted by Dr. Arocha in the attached video, black women should consider switching over to natural styles that do not cause trauma to the scalp. He urges doctors and hairdressers to make women aware of CCCA and the potential link with hairstyles that cause traction alopecia.
Medical and Environmental Risk Factors for the Development of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial AlopeciaA Population Study (http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1105148)
About the Author (Author Profile)Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.
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