In December 2019, United States Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley revealed that she has alopecia areata, a condition that causes patches of hair loss and sometimes can lead to baldness. Pressley is not alone in her condition. Estimates are that anywhere from a third to a half of all black women experience some hair loss in their life time. But not all hair loss is permanent. If diagnosed and treated early, hair loss can be prevented but often stigma, lack of information and embarrassment have prevented many women from seeking help.
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WHAT CAUSES THIS HAIR LOSS? WHY ME?
Alopecia is a catch-all term for any condition that is associated with hair loss.
Anyone from any race can develop Alopecia, but hair loss is common in black women. According to Dermatologist Crystal Aguh, who specializes in hair loss, nearly 50% of black women experience some form of hair loss.
It is helpful to be aware of this statistic and how common this disease is, we as black women should become adequately informed about the condition, its different types, treatments, and more. We will go over everything you need to know in this article, and we are writing this to let you know that you ARE NOT ALONE.
Types of Alopecia
There are several types of Alopecia. Let’s briefly dive into each of them below.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the hair follicles. The condition is characterized by spot baldness on one or more areas of the body. In most cases, the hair will fall out in relatively small patches that are no larger than a quarter. If a person is going to have this disease, it’s likely to happen before the age of 30.
The condition can cause any number of bald patches to occur, but sufferers of the condition usually report only a few bald patches. This is not to say that Alopecia Areata cannot lead to Alopecia Totalis, where every strand of hair on the scalp falls out. In addition, Alopecia Areata can cause Alopecia Universalis, where all of the hair on the body falls out.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
This type of hair loss is often brought on by extreme stress and does not discriminate based on age or gender. Often, there is no obvious reason why a person has developed alopecia Areata.
STRESS IS A PRIMARY FACTOR
- Lord knows we go through more than our fair share of stress.
Traction Alopecia is hair loss brought on by outside influences. It occurs when a pulling force is repeatedly applied to the hair. Sufferers of traction alopecia will often have thinning hair along their hairline. There could also be hair loss on any part of the scalp, where the hair was pulling too tight.
Causes of Traction Alopecia
Alopecia is caused by tension placed on your hair strands.
You might develop this hair condition if you do the following things often:
Pull your hair back into a ponytail or bun.
Wear weave in your hair.
Sleep with hair tools like rollers or Flexi rods in your hair.
HAIR BEING PULLED TO TIGHTLY AT THE FOLLICLES
-Braid, locs, weaves
HAIR BEING PULLED TO TIGHTLY AT THE FOLLICLES
Androgenic Alopecia (AA) is the proper term for male or female pattern baldness. This form of hair condition looks different in men and women. In men, hair begins to fall out around the temples and then continues to fall out until the hairline resembles an “M”. In women, hair loss from androgenic Alopecia manifests in thinning all over the head. A receding hairline is not common in women like it is in men.
In women, hair loss from androgenic Alopecia usually begins between the ages of 12 and 40.
Causes of Androgenic Alopecia
According to Science Direct, Androgenic Alopecia is caused by androgens in genetically susceptible women. Women can inherit the gene that causes this hair loss from either one side or both sides of the family. This means that it’s hereditary.
The leading causes of this condition are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, the “androgens” that give the hair disease its name.
The risk of developing this type of hair condition increases with age.
Other Types of Alopecia
Anagen effluvium alopecia caused by chemo, radiation, or poisoning.
Alopecia mucinosa and alopecia neoplastica caused by cancer.
Tinea capitis caused by an infection
- Cancer or Chemical causes
- Tinea capitis caused by an infection or severe scalp irritation