Study Highlights Hair Loss in African-American Women

Jada Pinkett-Smith Belgravia Centre

A recent study undertaken by The Cleveland Clinic Institute of Dermatology and Plastic Surgery in Ohio, USA, has suggested that hairstyles such as braids and weaves may be responsible for clinical scarring and hair loss in black African-American women.

The study, which was led by Dr. Angela Kyei, chief resident at the clinic, published its findings in the April issue of the American journal ‘Archives of Dermatology’. The researchers examined 326 black African-American women for signs of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA), a form of scarring Alopecia. The aim of the study was to identify potential medical and environmental risk factors for the hair loss condition.

CCCA is a hair loss condition that was first identified in black African-American women, and it is thoughts that certain hairstyles such as braids and weaves, as well as the the overuse of hot combs and oil pomades could be to blame. Although hair loss as a direct result from weaves, braids and hot hair treatments has not been proven, these hairstyles can cause a considerable amount of physical pain. It is advisable to limit their use, wherever possible, to minimise the risk of CCCA and other hair loss problems.

The results of the hair loss study

The results of the study showed that 28% of the women had a central hair loss grade of 2 or higher, which is indicative of early stage CCCA. Of these subjects, 59% had advanced central hair loss with clinical signs of scarring (grade 3 or higher) consistent with CCCA.

Dr. Kyei and her colleagues also claim the results of the study show a potential link between Type 2 Diabetes and female hair loss.

"Our survey results suggest that there is a high prevalence of central hair loss among African-American women,” the authors wrote. “Hair styles causing traction as well as inflammation in the form of bacterial infection may be contributing to the development of CCCA. The increase in diabetes mellitus type 2 among those with CCCA is in line with the recent theory that cicatricial alopecia may be a manifestation of metabolic dysregulation."

The authors of the study wrote in their report that “to dismiss hair loss as a mere cosmetic problem is the wrong approach,” and advised two precautions. The first is that women should be wary of their hair's condition if they are suffering from type 2 diabetes; the other is to make sure braids are not too tight and weaves are not too heavy.

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