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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Women Going Bald -- But What's the Root Cause?

Balding Black Woman

Hair loss can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or race. But there is an epidemic of hair loss going on now among black women. The International Society of Hair Restoration reports that nearly 30 million U.S. women are losing their hair; however, it's happening more to black women. Why?

The danger of weaves and extensions

Celebrities like Beyonce, Naomi Campbell and Viola Davis are going bald. The cause? Dangerous hair weaves and extensions, and wearing wigs for extended periods of time. The condition is called alopecia areata (ar-ee-AH-tah), which means hair loss in which the hair falls out in patches. The condition is an attack against the hair follicle. In alopecia areata, immune system cells called white blood cells attack the cells in the hair follicles. This condition is often genetic and can happen to anyone.

What is Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)?

However, there is another type of alopecia called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, or CCCA, in which baldness begins at the crown. In a recent study, 59 percent of black women in the study had this type of baldness. The study showed the following causes:
  • Weaves - many weave extensions are shipped to the U.S. from international sources and often are unsterilized, even containing insects that can damage hair follicles.
  • Tight braids or weaves - braiding or weaving hair too tightly puts stress on the hair follicle and can actually pull it out. In addition, wearing weaves too long--for months at a time--does not give the hair follicle a chance to breathe.
  • Neglect - weaves, wigs and braids often lead to neglect of hair and hair loss. Hair needs to be washed and conditioned regularly in order to remain strong and healthy.

Abusing your natural hair can lead to permanent hair loss. This is one reason why many celebrities like Viola Davis have gone natural. Natural is not only healthy but beautiful.
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