Top 12 reasons why African American women are experiencing hair loss
As African American women, we often beautify our hair in various ways. From curly to kinky, natural hairstyles are becoming more popular every day. While it's important to love and care for our hair, sometimes it can be a challenge to keep it healthy and looking its best. One common problem that many of us experience is hair loss.
There are a lot of women out there suffering from hair loss and they don't even know the reasoning behind it. A lot of times, people lose their hair for no reason at all. But sometimes, there is a reason why that person is losing their hair and they just don't know it yet.
Sometimes hair loss is temporary and reversible, while other times it may be more permanent. Here are 10 common causes of hair loss in women. If you're experiencing hair loss and you do not know the reason, don't worry! There are plenty of things you can do to address the problem and get your hair back on track. Keep reading to know some common reason on hair loss and how to prevent and treat it!
Differences between African American hair and other hair types
African American hair has a considerable thickness due to the presence of different textures and layers. The curly and wavy texture of the hair occurs due to the shape of the hair follicle. African American women have curved follicles that lead to curly hair development.
These significant key points make African American hair stand out from the other hair types, but it also requires additional hair care due to the following reasons:
- Cuticle Width: The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair strand that protects it from breaking. According to research, Black hair has thinner cuticles than other hair types. This leads to severe breakage among African American women.
- Density: African American people have a lesser amount of hair follicles present on their scalp i.e., 90,000 follicles as compared to 120,000 follicles for White Hair. As a result, Black Hair is prone to hair fall, and the scalp becomes much more visible.
- Dryness: Scalp secretes sebum which helps to hydrate the hair strands and lock in moisture. In the case of straight hair, sebum easily moves to the end of the hair strand, leading to silkier outlooks. In the case of Black hair, sebum is unable to reach the end due to curly or wavy hair strands. As a result, Black hair is prone to dryness.
12 Reasons Behind Hair Loss
1. Hair follicle inflammation
Traction Alopecia is the most significant reason for hair loss among the African American community. Traction Alopecia occurs due to hair follicle inflammation caused by tight hairstyles or pulling the hair tightly for a long time. Since type 4 hair is already fragile due to bends and the inability of the sebum to reach the end, it is more prone to breakage.
Traction Alopecia occurs in phases. Initially, several painful bumps appear around the follicles, known as traction folliculitis. However, taking adequate care can reverse the condition. If the condition persists without taking any corrective action, the follicles scar due to repeated stress, leading to a permanent hair loss known as scarring alopecia.
2. Immune system mistakenly attacking hair follicles
Hair loss also occurs due to autoimmune disorders such as Alopecia areata, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. As a result, hair starts falling out of the scalp. This condition can also affect hair in other body parts such as eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, or legs.
Alopecia areata is an unpredictable condition in which hair starts growing back after a while. However, it can fall out again.
3. Scaly red patches on scalp
Scalp psoriasis is a condition in which scaly red patches appear on the scalp. Itching the scalp can worsen psoriasis, forcefully removing the scales to relieve psoriasis can both lead to hair fall and hair loss-- but it’s only temporary! Avoiding the need to itch and finding a solution can aid in hair regrowth.
Certain hair of hair loss is genetic, so if loosing hair runs within the family, then there is a higher possible cause that it could also happen to you as well. There is no definite prevention to treat genetic types of hair loss like alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss.
5. Hormonal changes
Pregnancy and the postpartum period may be very stressful on a woman's body, with major hormonal changes and an increase in stress as the body prepares for during pregnancy, giving birth and after giving birth. Hair growth, thickness, and strength may all be affected as a result.
6. Hair loss during pregnancy
Hair loss or thinning is a natural reaction during pregnancy. This is because the hormonal imbalance in the body has been affected, which then cause a reaction in the hair follicle. An increase in oestrogen and progesterone hormones, which can cause hair to become thin and fragile, is the cause of hair loss in early pregnancy or throughout the prenatal period.
7. Postpartum period hair loss
During pregnancy women grow more hair than usual as hormone levels increase and the disruption of the hair growth cycle. Therefore it’s known for pregnant women to have thicker and shiner hair. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to increased shedding once the baby is born. This is because the hair growth cycle returns to its pre-pregnancy form, so the hairs that were kept throughout pregnancy begin to shed.
One of the most major problems for women throughout menopause is hair loss physiologically, which occurs as a result of changes in hormone imbalance.
The density of estrogen in women's blood decreases during pre-menopause, but androgen concentrations naturally rise, which might be the explanation of androgenic hair loss or as known as female pattern hair loss. Women's hair loss generally manifests itself as a widespread thinning of hair, mostly in the central and forehead parts, but sometimes in the parietal and occipital regions (Herskovitz, 2013).
When you're coping with a stressful situation, this could lead to experiencing hair loss. This might be starting a new career, feeling under pressure at work, leading a hectic lifestyle, dealing with coronavirus disease, welcoming a new baby, or even losing a loved one. Hair loss is not always quick, and it may appear 3 to 6 months after a stressful event.
Stress is also a significant reason for hair loss. Hair loss due to stress, known as Telogen effluvium, usually starts two to three months after the stressful incident and can last up to six months.
Medicines are used to treat a range of conditions and diseases, but they can occasionally have unpleasant side effects. Excessive hair growth, changes in hair color or texture, or hair loss can all be caused by certain medications.
Drug intake can cause hair loss by interfering with hair growth cycle which is known to be: Telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium.
The most prevalent type of drug-induced hair loss is telogen effluvium. It typically shows 2 to 4 months after starting the medication. Resulting hair follicles entering their resting phase (telogen) and fall out earlier. WebMD imply that telogen effluvium causes people to shed 30 to 70% more hair per day than the average 100 to 150 hairs per day.
Anagen effluvium that affects the anagen growth phase of the hair cycle, which occurs sudden loss of hair during when hair is growing actively. It is most common with people who are taking chemo, radiation, and toxic chemicals, as well as inflammatory illnesses like alopecia areata. Although it is curable, with hair growth taking 1-3 months, it can occasionally lead to permanent alopecia and be psychologically damaging, having negative effects on individual views of attractiveness and self-esteem.
The amount of medication-induced hair loss is determined by the medication, its dose, and how people response to it.
11. Over styling
Long term use of hair styling such as tight hair styling and hair treatments are ‘one of the most common reasons of severe hair fall and hair loss in the black community’ said Crystal Aguh, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore and an editor of the textbook “Fundamentals of Ethnic Hair: The Dermatologist’s Perspective.”.
Doing extreme style, such as tight braids, hair weaves, or corn rows, can result in traction alopecia, or gradual hair loss. Using chemical relaxers, such as hot oil treatments, excessive heat from straightening your hair, curling irons and hot combs or using harmful chemical ingredients on your hair, can harm the hair root, can cause significant breakage, making hair fragile and unable to regrow.
12. Lack of nutrient deficiencies: your hair is what you eat
With busy lifestyles and daily stresses, getting our daily intake of micronutrients can be a challenge. The importance of nutrition intake in treatment option for hair loss is becoming more important.
In July 2018, a thorough literature search of PubMed and Google Scholar was conducted to gather published publications on the topic of vitamins, minerals and herbs with hair loss. Micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and herbs have a vital, though not completely understood, role in hair follicle growth and immune cell activity. A lack of these micronutrients might be a modifiable risk factor for the development, prevention, and treatment of hair loss like alopecia. (Almohanna et al, 2019)
Luckily, by merely focusing and incorporating a few nutrient-rich foods and herbs into our daily ritual, we can quickly respond and address potential nutrient deficiencies.
Why African Americans Should Trust Herbs as an Alternative to Medicine
Herbs have been in use for many years. In fact, they go way back than modern medicines. Unfortunately, when compared to conventional drug therapy they always assume a secondary position while neglecting their diverse health benefits. Nonetheless, medicinal herbs are better than modern medicine because:
- They are readily available and easy to obtain since they are nature’s gift to us.
- They have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well- being (Deering,2019)
- They have fewer side effects than conventional medications (Taheri et al, 2011)
- They strengthen and boost the immune system (Zang and Luo, 2012).
Should You Start Using Herbs for Your Hair?
Despite not being a popular way of maintaining African American hair, African Americans have relied on and used herbs and plants to be a valid remedy. It has been forgotten by some people that some herbs do have scientifically based medicinal value (Covey,2007). It has been known that the use of herbs could also a hair loss treatment (Lourith and Kanlayavattanakul, 2013) and hair growth (Jain, 2017). If you are looking for a natural remedy for your African American hair, herbs are a worthy consideration.
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- Almohanna, H.M., Ahmed, A.A., Tsatalis, J.P. et al.The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 9, 51–70 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
- Brennan, Dan. “Can Herbs Help With Hair Growth?” WebMD, WebMD, 23 June 2021, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/herbs-help-hair-growth.
- Covey, Herbert C. African American slave medicine: Herbal and non-herbal treatments. Lexington Books, 2007.
- Deering, Shelby. “9 Most Powerful Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Backed by Science.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 28 Feb. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/most-powerful-medicinal-plants#gingko.
- Goluch-Koniuszy, Zuzanna Sabina. “Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause.” Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review 15,1 (2016): 56-61. doi:10.5114/pm.2016.58776
- Herskovitz, Ingrid, and Antonella Tosti. "Female pattern hair loss." International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism4 (2013).
- Jain, PUSHPENDRA KUMAR, D. E. B. A. J. Y. O. T. I. Das, and C. H. A. N. D. A. N. Das. "Prospect of herbs as hair growth potential." Innovare Journals of Medical Sciences 5.1 (2017): 25-33.
- Kanwar, Amrinder J, and Tarun Narang. “Anagen effluvium.” Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology 79,5 (2013): 604-12. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.116728
- Lourith, Nattaya, and Mayuree Kanlayavattanakul. "Hair loss and herbs for treatment." Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12.3 (2013): 210-222.
- Marcin, Ashley. “Hair Loss in Pregnancy: Treatment, Causes, and What to Expect.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 Sept. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/hair-loss-in-pregnancy.
- “Common Health Problems in Pregnancy - NHS.” Nhs.Uk, 8 Mar. 2021, https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/common-health-problems/.
- Silver, Natalie. “Psoriasis and Hair Loss: Is There a Connection?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 11 Dec. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis-and-hair-loss#temporary-hair-loss.
- Taheri, Jamile B., et al. "Herbs in dentistry." International dental journal6 (2011): 287-296.
- Watson, Stephanie. “Medications & Drugs That Cause Hair Loss.” WebMD, https://www.facebook.com/WebMD, 12 Nov. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/drug-induced-hair-loss-2.
- Wang, Zheng, and Deyan Luo. "Chinese herbs and anti-infection immunity." International Journal of Biosciences (IJB)11 (2012): 18-29.