Traction alopecia is a common cause of thinning hair and overall hair loss in black women. More than 1/3 of all African-American women and 17 percent of all African-American girls between the ages of 6 and 21 suffer from the disorder, according to the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology," reported by PR Web. If caught early, traction alopecia is entirely reversible, according to MayoClinic.com. Proper treatment prevents further damage and permanent hair loss.
Better Hair Care
Tight braids, cornrows or ponytails are among the most common culprits responsible for traction alopecia in black women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. One of the most effective treatments for traction alopecia is to stop putting stress on the hair. Gauge whether your braids are too tight by attempting to raise your eyebrows or move your forehead. If you can't, or the movement is difficult, your hair style is pulled too tightly, warns dermatologist Susan Taylor of Society Hill Dermatology in Philadelphia. Also avoid bonding or gluing hairpieces onto the hair shaft, or applying weaves that are too heavy. Wash your hair at least every 10 days to keep your scalp healthy, she advises.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Along with changing your hairstyle, your doctor may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to treat inflammation associated with traction alopecia, according to dermatologist Dr. Joshua L. Fox, quoted by the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology." Cortisone injections directly into the scalp may also reverse inflammation, Fox states. Consuming sufficient iron and protein also stimulates hair regrowth.
Topical applications of minoxidil may reverse traction alopecia in its beginning stages, according to dermatologist Valerie Callender in "Essence" magazine. Prescription treatments may be eligible for insurance coverage. Biotin supplements compensate for vitamin deficiencies that can make traction alopecia worse, dermatologist Lori Hobbs suggests in "Essence."
In its advanced stages, traction alopecia is irreversible, hair specialist Dr. Gregory Pistone of Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in Philadelphia states in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology." Sometimes scarring alopecia develops along with traction alopecia, according to Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd in "Skin and Aging." In such cases, hair transplantation or hair flap surgery provide the only option to restore hair growth.
Hair transplants remove hair grafts from healthy areas of the scalp for placement to thinning or bald areas. Single hair grafts provide the replacement for the hairline, with multiple-strand donor grafts filling in the balance of balding areas, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery explains. Many patients achieve dramatic results from hair restoration surgery, Fox says.
- PR Web: African Americans at Risk for Hair Loss
- "Skin and Aging": Causes and Treatment of Traction Alopecia; Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D.; July 15, 2003
- Society Hill Dermatology: The Uniqueness of Black Hair
- American Academy of Dermatology: Skin of Color
- Essence: The Black Woman's Guide to Hair Loss; Holly Carter; July 7, 2007
- International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: Hair Transplant Surgery for Hair Restoration