Is Your Hairstyle Hurting You?

woman curly hair twist out
Certain hairstyling practices can result in serious hair and scalp diseases for some black women, an expert warns.

“Hair is an extremely important aspect of an African American woman’s appearance,” Dr. Diane Jackson-Richards, director of Henry Ford Hospital’s Multicultural Dermatology Clinic in Detroit, said in a hospital news release. “Yet many women who have a hair or scalp disease do not feel their physician takes them seriously. Physicians should become more familiar with the culturally accepted treatments for these diseases.”

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Black women tend to shampoo their hair less often than other ethnic groups, and about 80 percent of black women use chemical relaxers, Jackson-Richards said.

She also said frequent use of blow-dryers and hot combs, combined with popular hairstyles such as weaves, braids and dreadlocks, cause physical stress to the hair and contribute to scalp diseases such as alopecia, or hair loss.

Proper hair care can help prevent diseases such as alopecia and an inflammatory skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, Jackson-Richards said Monday during a presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual conference in San Diego.