Why Are Black Women Losing Their Hair?

October 5, 2015

Determined to find answers, Cleveland Clinic doctors are taking part in a new national study to determine the cause and solution for premature hair loss in African American women. (watch the video)

ALOPECIA, which is the complete or partial loss of hair. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCC Alopecia) is the most common type of scarring alopecia found in African-American women that usually begins at the central scalp, gets increasingly worse and is ultimately permanent. Early research indicates that an estimated 15 to 19 percent of all African-American women in the U.S. – more than 36.6 million women have a history of hair loss, and more than half (51 percent) are concerned with thinning hair/hair loss as a top hair care problem.Although CCC Alopecia affects so many women of color, little research exists on the disease and its causes, and no effective treatments have been identified to help with this disfiguring hair loss. While various hair grooming techniques such as the use of hot combs and chemical relaxers have been blamed for this condition, the link has never been proven.

Women living with alopecia use comb-over techniques, hair weaves and wigs to disguise the problem. In fact, few seek treatment or admit to their partners or close friends and family that they suffer from hair loss. “Some stylists even cover up hair loss patches without talking to their clients about it,” says Tippi Shorter, celebrity hair stylist and Pantene Relaxed & Natural spokesperson. “There is so much education still needed at the salon level to help stylists better identify early signs of alopecia, understand what really causes it and have productive conversations with clients about how they can seek treatment.”

While currently there is little definitive research on either a cause or cure for hair loss or Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCC Alopecia) experts agree that it is nobody’s fault. Despite myths to the contrary, there’s no definitive evidence that CCC Alopecia is a result of any one thing, like over styling, repeated processing, stress, excess heat, tight braids or cotton scarves. In fact, early studies reveal that hair loss and CCC Alopecia in particular may be the result of several combined factors. We trust our study will provide more helpful information and direction in early identification and potential treatment of hair loss.

If you’re concerned about hair loss, you’re not alone, 51% of all African American women cite thinning hair and hair loss as their top hair problem. Good news! The right hairstylist and/or dermatologist can be a trusted partner in finding hair care/styling solutions. Don’t be afraid to seek out expert advice:

Step 1: Ask for a Referral

Ask your physician and/or stylist to refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in treating African Americans. Dermatologists are experts in skin and hair care and can help identify if you are suffering from Alopecia and what form. There are several.

Step 2: Find a Specialized Hairstylist

Ask your dermatologist if he/she knows any stylists in the area that specialize in styling women who suffer from Alopecia or thinning hair. Ask your friends to speak with their stylists – or just hit the phones. Call salons in your area and ask for a stylist who specializes in styling thinning hair. Discuss your concerns. If privacy is important for you perhaps she’ll agree to an in-home consultation or you can arrange a time that is the least busy in the salon. Talk to the stylists about their experience with thinning or hair loss patterns similar to yours. Make sure you establish a rapport and feel comfortable during the consultation. source

If you have a serious concern about hair loss, one place I know of that specializes in all areas of hair loss and hair loss solutions is The Hair Club for Men and Women. They are private and they also have locations nationwide.