Alopecia-Let’s get Educated

One of my primary drivers in studying Trichology was because I knew the secret of many black women. A lot of us are hiding damage and bald spots under our wigs, weaves and braids. Instead of simply covering up the issue I wanted to know the cause of the issues and much to my surprise I found that it is not just traction which is causing the issue. Now do not get me wrong it is a factor but it not the only factor and I will touch up on it later on in this article. Once I discovered there was a suite of hair conditions out there which were causing black women to lose their hair permanently I wanted to make sure I spent time educating women about these issues.

In this article I want to highlight some conditions which cause permanent hair loss, how to catch the symptoms early and who to seek for help.

The type of alopecia – hair loss I am going to talk about are what are known as cicatricial -scarring. In short cicatricial alopecia refers to a group of rare disorders that destroy the hair follicle, replace it with scar tissue, and cause permanent hair loss. This sounds quite scary and the intention of this article is not to frighten anyone but to educate you, so you can get help before it is too late.

The first I will touch on is Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. It is sometimes also called follicular degeneration syndrome or hot comb alopecia. This condition mainly affects women of African descent and hair loss is mainly to the vertex – the crown.  The cause of this condition is not known, but given that it affects women of African descent it suggests there is something that is done to afro hair which is causing this condition. Patients sometimes complain of itching to the area, and will report of progressive thinning to the area.

The second I will touch on is Lichen Planopilaris. With this condition, you can find patchy loss throughout the scalp. Many patients report itching, pain and burning on the scalp. The follicles may look inflamed and there will be some scaling.

The last type of scarring alopecia I will mention is our good friend Traction Alopecia. Repeated pulling on the hair follicle can eventually result in scarring where the hair follicle will no longer produce hair. This pressure on the follicle can be in the guise of tight braids, heavy braids, locs that have been tightened too much and tight ponytails. To stop this damage from happening it is important not to put your hair under thus pressure if possible.

There are many other scarring conditions, which I will not touch on as this would be very long and very technical. My main objective was to make readers aware of the existence of these types of conditions especially because frequently we believe that the hair loss we are suffering is self-inflicted and many health professionals will also immediately assume the same thing. Having this information will arm you with the ability to challenge the immediate assumption that it is traction causing hair loss and obtain the necessary treatment.

If you do suspect that you are suffering from an issue, please get in contact with a Dermatologist or a Trichologist who can help you. At times a biopsy is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made the appropriate treatment plan can be put together to try and control the hair loss.

I hope this has gone some way to helping you understanding that you can get help for your hair loss.

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