Hair Loss: The Price of Beauty?

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By Mahneerah Griffin

There’s a war going with women in the dozens of urban areas throughout the United States. No, it’s not about the recent decrease in Food stamp benefits or the growing number of single mother households, its hair loss.

The rise of the natural hair movement has been one of the highlights of 2013. Many African-American and other women of color were ditching the dangerous and follicle-damaging chemicals found in perms and relaxers and deciding to let their hair grown as nature intended. Protective styling is an aspect of the natural hair movement. Women with natural hair are wearing wigs and braids but with that come the threat of hair loss.

The most common hair problems that women of color endure when it comes to their hair are central centrifugal cicatricle alopecia (CCCA) and traction alopecia. Both can be reversed with the right care of hair, but can also lead to permanent hair damage. These conditions are especially common amongst afro-textured hair because it’s dry and prone to breakage and certain hairstyles can result in stress to the scalp.

According to the “Hair Loss a Growing Problem for African-American Women” article on Thegrio.com, most women of color are clueless to this growing hair loss epidemic. There are many factors that can lead to CCCA and traction alopecia. In the article the writer interviews Dr. Susan Taylor, a Harvard-trained dermatologist, who gives the determining factors of both CCCA and traction alopecia.

“With CCCA, hair loss begins in the center of the scalp and spreads out; it is caused by multiple factors, including chemical relaxers or hot combing. Traction alopecia, which many believe supermodel Naomi Campbell is suffering from, is hair loss that occurs as a result of continuous pulling of the hair.”

Signs of both CCCA and traction alopecia include bald spots and thinning of the hairline and nape area. So what can do to either avoid or fix the perilous effects of CCCA and traction alopecia?

“For traction alopecia, avoid any tight hairstyles including braids with extensions, tight weaves, tight ponytails and cornrow,” says Dr. Taylor.

“For CCCA, you will need to have a biopsy performed to confirm the diagnosis and then begin treatment with creams, injections or pills.”

There are natural remedies such as the use of Jamaican black castor oil to help re-grow thinning edges and nape. You can also option for low maintenance styles such as loose buns and jumbo braids and twists, also keep these braided and twisted styles for a short period of time.

No one is saying that women should stop wearing braids, twists, or wigs, but it’s important to wear them the right way. There’s still a huge question that lingers when it comes to the price of beauty that women of color endure, Will they listen and give up the desire for quick fixes and instant beauty to take care of their hair? The choice is theirs.