Black hair grows just like any other, but because of its structure it’s more delicate than other hair types. Not only is Afro hair more prone to breakage through lack of moisture, it is also still susceptible to genetic hair loss as well as balding inflicted by damaging hairstyle habits.
Causes of Afro Hair Loss
This type of hair loss, also referred to as male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss, is predominantly determined by genetics. A heightened susceptibility to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) cause the hair follicles to gradually shrink in predisposed persons. The result is the production of shorter, finer hair, giving the appearance of thinning and in time the follicles could eventually close up. The “death” of the hair follicle effectively terminates hair growth, resulting in irreversible baldness.
There are no reliable statistics regarding the prevalence of androgenetic alopecia in people with Afro hair. However, the general consensus is that the highest rates are seen in Caucasians, closely followed by those with Afro hair.
There is no doubt that people of Afro-Caribbean origin can be very creative when it comes to styling their hair. However, most don’t realise just how damaging some of those styles actually are. Unlike genetic hair loss, traction alopecia is purely due to excessive pulling or tension on hair shafts. It is seen more often in women, especially those with natural Afro hair. Braids, cornrows, weaves, hair extensions – all these styles impose tension on the hair follicles and literally pull the hair out from the root.
The pattern of hair loss depends on the way the hair is being pulled, but it generally takes the form of patches of baldness or the appearance of a receding hairline. Prolonged traction alopecia can stop new hair follicles developing and lead to permanent hair loss.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
Fungal diseases, scalp conditions and skin disorders can all cause hair loss. Trichophyton tonsurans, for example, is a fungal disease that causes localised hair loss and is most often seen in those with Afro hair. Other aggravating conditions that can lead to hair loss include dermatitis, folliculitis and persistent dandruff. Additionally, product residues can build up on the scalp if not rinsed out properly and this can cause scaling, itchiness and tenderness of the scalp.
Follicular Degeneration Syndrome, which was formally known as ‘hot come alopecia,’ is a type of scarring hair loss that appears as diffuse thinning that generally extends centrifugally from the scalp vertex. Hair can be grown back, though only from follicles that have not yet scarred.
Over manipulation of the hair can lead to thinning through breakage. Excessive use of relaxers and hair colourants can damage the quality of the hair, making it susceptible to breakage along the shaft. This can cause temporary thinning but damage to the root, caused by an allergic reaction to the chemicals or scalp burn, could result in more permanent types of hair loss.
Alopecia areata affects about only 2% of the population but doesn’t exclude people of Afro-Caribbean origin. It is a mysterious condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles. The result is patchy bald spots on the scalp that can recover in time without treatment, or could progress to total hair loss on the scalp, or even the body.
The hair growth cycle also reacts to any internal imbalance that can be caused by hormonal or external factors. Medications, illness, childbirth, extreme dieting and emotional trauma can all contribute to diffuse thinning or telogen effluvium.
Hair Loss Treatment for Afro Hair Clients
Most of the time, hair loss in clients with afro hair can be controlled and reversed. There are medical hair loss treatments that can stabilise progressive hair loss and even stop the balding process, and there are treatments which work to re-grow hair that has been lost.
There are also hair supplements that can improve the hair’s appearance. Nutrition is important for healthy hair maintenance and if you’re not getting the essential vitamins you need through your diet, these supplements can help.
There are no treatments that will make your hair grow faster or longer. However, if it’s growing hair past a certain point that’s your trouble, it’s likely that breakage is the culprit and possibly also causing your hair to thin. The key to getting it to grow again is to stop the damage that’s causing the breakage.
Avoid chemical relaxers and other treatments that can cause your hair quality to deteriorate, as well as tight hair styles that can damage the follicles. Talk to a professional stylist who is skilled in Afro hair to learn how to look after your hair as you style. If you’re having trouble restoring any lost hair as a result of poor styling habits, consult a hair loss specialist for expert treatment.
The root cause of hair loss generally stems from genetics but there are a lot of ways in which people with Afro hair can control or avoid excessive shedding and baldness. Perhaps the best way to understand is to think of your hair as a fine, washable, silk material – the better you treat it, the longer it will last.
To find out more about the causes and treatments for Afro hair loss, contact the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 or send an email. The UK’s leaders in hair loss prevention have been treating men and women from a variety of backgrounds all over the world for almost 20 years. For those who aren’t able to visit the London centre, the online diagnostic form provides a means of access to expert advice, recommendation and treatments.