"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

What is alopecia? For thousands and thousands of black American women, this isn’t any laughing matter.

1. What is alopecia?

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. And it includes descriptors which will consult with where the hair loss is happening, or the cause. Examples are traction alopecia, traumatic hair loss or chronic inflammatory changes in hair follicles.

2. What causes alopecia?

Traction alopecia occurs when there may be trauma to the scalp, where the hair is pulled or rubbed frequently, causing inflammation across the hair follicle. This can result in hair loss or thinning.

Alopecia areata describes hair loss in a particular area. It has different levels of severity, so hair loss could be only a coin-sized area on the scalp, or it may affect large areas. It could be anywhere on the body.

Or it may end in complete lack of hair on the scalp, alopecia totalis. Some people lose their eyebrows or their eyelashes look thinner.

People may even have alopecia universalis, which is hair loss all around the body.

Alopecia areata is taken into account an “immune-mediated” form of hair loss. The immune system attacks the hair follicles. It must be done. with T cellsessential white blood cells within the immune system.

And then other autoimmune disorders could be related to them. This is a type of alopecia Jada Pinkett Smith has said she has..

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that may cause hair loss. One type is systemic lupus erythematosus. Another type, discoid lupus erythematosus, primarily affects the skin and may cause hair loss with scarring on the scalp.

Thyroid abnormalities will also be related to hair loss. In fact, when patients come to me with hair loss, the primary test I could order is a thyroid study.

3. Who does it affect?

Anyone can get alopecia. Alopecia areata can appear at any age, from children to adults, and in each men and girls. But it’s more likely. Affecting African Americans than white or Asian Americans. About 1 million people within the US There is alopecia areata.

Traction alopecia can affect people in certain professions, reminiscent of ballerinas, who wear their hair in buns on a regular basis. Pressure and friction from sports headgear reminiscent of helmets or baseball caps also can cause hair loss. And in parts of northern Europe, where it's common for people to tug their hair tightly frequently, rates of traction alopecia are high. Traction alopecia Affects one-third. In women of African descent, it’s probably the most common form of alopecia affecting black women.

4. Why is traction alopecia so common in black women?

This is resulting from a few of the hair styling methods that black women use on their hair – wearing tight weaves or extensions, heat straightening, that form of thing. Hair is an enormous deal for African American women in a way that it isn't for others. When I used to be growing up, my older relatives told us girls that our hair was our “crowning glory.” And they made an enormous deal about keeping our hair stylish and well-groomed, and that typically meant straightening it.

But I do imagine that black women are under less pressure than ever to maintain their hair straight within the workplace or anywhere else.

5. How is alopecia treated?

It depends upon the explanation. For alopecia areata are injected or topical corticosteroids. If it's resulting from a nutrient deficiency, reminiscent of iron or protein, obviously you simply must correct the deficiency through supplements or dietary changes. When it's brought on by traction or disc lupus, for those who don't treat the dermatitis, hair loss could be everlasting.

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When it involves traction, though, it's rather more about eliminating the practices that cause the issue in the primary place. What is going on now could be that more persons are aware of the hazards of chemical or heat applications for hair straightening and are using these harmful processes less.

One thing that would assistance is the CROWN Act, laws introduced last yr, which was passed by the US House on March 18, 2022. Discrimination is illegal. Against people wearing natural styles, like afros and braids, so I hope this contributes to rather a lot less traction alopecia in the long run.