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Help! I’m losing my hair: Top 3 hair loss tips for women of color

By Kendra Joseph, PA-C

Hair loss has many different causes. Healthy hair depends on an inner cuticle with scales that overlap to hold the strands together. When these scales fall apart, your hair gets dry and you can have hair loss. The top three most common forms of hair loss in women of color are: breakage, traction alopecia and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA).

Hair Breakage

Hair breakage constitutes broken hairs of varying lengths that are usually caused by having very dry, brittle, and damaged hairs. It can be localized or all throughout your scalp.

Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is hair loss commonly seen at your hairline usually caused by tension hairstyles. Wearing your hair in a tight ponytail, braids, bun or when you use chemicals and heat on your hair, it can cause you traction alopecia hair loss.

Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)

Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) is hair loss found at the crown of your scalp that results in scar tissue. The causes are still being researched but we know that there are many contributing factors such as genetics, excess heat to your scalp, tension, harsh chemicals or products to name a few.

What do all of these hair losses have in common? TRAUMA. Trauma– or in other words stress–can have many forms. Physiological stress such as an illness, depression, anxiety or burnout and lastly mechanical stress from abrasive styling and handling your hair can all impact the health of your hair and cause hair loss.

Tips on what to do now if you are currently experiencing hair loss:

  1. Avoid anything mechanically traumatic: Avoid tight styles, excess heat to scalp, harsh chemicals such as relaxers/dyes, frequent combing/brushing, friction from wigs, caps or scarves. Low manipulation is key. Be very gentle with your tresses. Use detanglers when needed for tightly coiled hairs and be very careful in how you are handling your hair during installation and take down of a style.
  2. Hydrate from the outside and within: Drink lots of water and coconut water to keep hydrated! You may also regularly use deep conditioners and moisturizers as well as a non-lathering scalp cleanser as oppose to a traditional shampoo to help retain moisture.
  3. Nutrition: Eat a well-balanced diet. Often times vitamin deficiencies mainly vitamin d in women of color are present as well as low iron which can all affect the health of your hair. Eating healthy will ensure your hair gets the nutrients it needs from within to grow healthy.
  4. Bonus Tip: Seek help early: See your board-certified dermatologist or licensed skin healthcare professional as soon as possible to help fine tune a plan. Early diagnosis and help will give a way better prognosis. Also, hair loss can sometimes be accompanied by other conditions of the scalp that can also contribute to the severity of the hair loss. Signs of inflammation, including itching, burning, or tenderness should be addressed immediately.

Hair loss can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be. Take these steps now to ensure better healthy hair today or schedule a consultation to discuss the best hair loss treatments for you with one of our hair loss experts. Call 844-DERM-DOC or email us at contact@schweigerderm.com

Kendra Joseph, PA-C is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of many skin conditions, with a special interest in conditions that commonly affect skin of color such as keloids, skin discoloration, and ingrown hairs. She has been featured in Vogue magazine discussing the inclusivity of skin of color in the skincare industry and advocating for the importance of sunscreen usage for melanoma awareness with Accuweather. Kendra earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology from State University of New York at Albany before completing her Physician Assistant training at Stony Brook University. She believes that cultural awareness and sensitivity plays a significant role in prevention and treatment of skin diseases.

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