Damaged Hair from Relaxer Burns or Male Pattern Hair Loss?'

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Name: Max

Question: : Hello, I did a hair relaxer about 6 months ago and my scalp was severely burned (blisters formed with oozing). I began to notice hair loss at the vertex of my scalp as well as in my hairline and it has been rapidly thinning. Could this be due to the relaxer or is this more male pattern baldness? Both of my parents have a full head of hair but my maternal uncles/grandfather are bald. I am currently on propecia and minoxidil (it's been 1.5 months and have not seen much results yet).

Male Hair Loss Relaxer Damaged Hair Chemical Trauma from relaxing Afro hair

Answer: Hi, Max. As your scalp was affected by this unpleasant reaction to the relaxer, it could lead to hair loss.

Chemical Trauma hair loss - the name for shedding caused by burns from a relaxing solution, as well as those caused by perming solutions and bleach - can present anywhere across the scalp, depending on the reaction you had.

If the chemical burn caused by your hair relaxer was severe, it may also leave scars across the scalp. In this instance, the burnt areas are unlikely to fully regrow hair and may result in areas of permanent baldness where the follicles have been destroyed. When this happens it is known as Cicatricial Alopecia or 'scarring hair loss'.

Additionally, you may be experiencing hair breakage from over-processing. This is where weakened hair snaps along the shaft; it is separate to hair loss as it does not affect the follicle. It gives the hair a thin, frazzled look but can usually be dealt with via a haircut - to get rid of the damaged hair - and a course of suitable nourishing, strengthening conditioning treatments.

The signs of hair loss you mention - a thinning crown, vertex (along the top of the scalp) and receding hairline - are all symptomatic of Male Pattern Baldness, too.

If your doctor prescribed you oral finasteride 1mg (Propecia being one of the brand names for this drug), they must have already diagnosed you with Male Pattern Hair Loss as this medication is one of only two treatments - the other being high strength minoxidil - that are clinically-proven for this condition. Neither finasteride 1mg nor minoxidil are used for chemical burns or damaged hair from over-processing.

With regards to not seeing results from hair loss treatment yet, as you have only been using your products for one and a half months, this is normal. Although the timeline varies for everyone - with factors such as how advanced the hair loss was when treatment was started and whether the treatments are used properly and diligently, playing a part - it is usual to see some results from hair loss treatment within the first three-to-six months. This can range from stabilisation of shedding through to thicker, fuller hair and noticeable hair regrowth.

If you have had mild Male Pattern Hair Loss for a while, it is possible that the damage from the relaxer made this thinning more obvious in the last few months. Furthermore, it is entirely possible for both Male Pattern Baldness and Chemical Trauma, Cicatricial Alopecia and/or Hair Breakage to be present simultaneously.

As you can see, there are many variables here so we cannot give you a definitive answer without examining your scalp. I recommend you to visit a dermatologist or hair loss specialist for a consultation to determine the precise diagnosis - or diagnoses - and provide suitable treatment recommendations based on their findings and your medical profile.

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