September has been declared National Alopecia Awareness Month by American charity, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), which aims to draw attention to the condition which results in hair loss. The NAAF particularly hopes to raise awareness of Alopecia in African American women who make up nearly 40% of the estimated 80 million people in the US who have experienced Alopecia at some time in their lives.
As part of their awareness-raising efforts, the NAAF has teamed up with various Major and Minor League baseball teams to promote its message about Alopecia Areata and the challenges faced by people with the condition. Among the promotional activities organised by the NAAF is an awareness event at Dodgers Stadium during the Los Angeles versus Pittsburgh Pirates game on Sunday 18th September.
This year the NAAF has targeted much of its awareness efforts at black women who are frequently at risk of Traction Alopecia, a form of hair loss caused by self-inflicted damage to the hair follicles. Traction Alopecia appears to be very common among African American men and women for a combination of fashion-related reasons related to harsh grooming practices.
Tight braiding and cornrows
The fashion for very tightly braided hairstyles among African-Americans, such as cornrows, has been identified as a common cause of Traction Alopecia. The constant pulling of hair into braids and the ongoing tension causes damage to hair follicles, which is why Traction Alopecia is a common form of female hair loss. Traction Alopecia is also common among Sikh men and Japanese women when they wear their hair in tightly tensioned styles.
As part of their styling routines, black women may also choose to use chemical relaxers whose ingredients can cause burns and allergic reactions, in turn causing hair follicles to die off. Other straightening and styling techniques such as hot combs, dyes and bleaches can reduce the strength of hair, causing it to become brittle and fall out during combing.
If a woman becomes aware of problematic hair loss she may also be tempted to employ a hair weave or similar to disguise it. Because a hair weave is also requires tension to be placed on hair roots, such styling can end up exacerbating the problem rather than hiding it.
Treating Traction Alopecia
Despite the dire consequences excessive styling can have on hair health, NAAF is keen to especially keen to raise awareness of Traction Alopecia among black women because, if caught early, it can be treated with a high degree of success. Key to prevention is to report pain experienced during braiding or straightening to the stylist immediately. Scalp pain is not necessarily a side effect which must be endured for a fashionable hairstyle, but may actually indicate something is amiss.
If the stylist confirms inflammation or hair loss, NAAF then strongly recommend that women seek the advice of a hair loss expert who can advise further. When caught early, Traction Alopecia can be treated with a treatment programme based around the severity of the person’s hair loss. For best effects, less severe styling of the hair is recommended in future.
The Belgravia Centre offers a number of treatment programmes for women (and men) who think they may be experiencing some form of hair loss related to Alopecia. To know more about our specialist services, please contact us for a free consultation or fill out our online diganostic form for a home-use treatment programme that we can post anywhere in the world.