Why Weaves & Braids May Speed Black Hair Loss
(BlackDoctor.org) — Weaves and braids may contribute to a type of permanent hair loss that appears to be common among black women, a new study has found.
More than one-quarter of the 326 black women who participated in the study had hair loss on the top of their scalp, and of those women, 59 percent had signs of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), a poorly understood form of baldness that begins at the crown of the head and leads to scarring.
For many years, CCCA was known as “hot comb alopecia” because it was attributed to the use of hot combs to straighten curly hair. That appears to be a misnomer. Neither hot comb treatments nor chemical relaxers, which were used by more than 90 percent of the study participants, were linked with CCCA in the study, but braids, weaves, and other so-called traction hairstyles that tug at the scalp were.
Black women often maintain these styles for long periods of time, and the stress they exert on the scalp can lead to the development of pus-filled bumps, says the lead researcher, Angela Kyei, MD, a dermatologist and chief resident at the Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute. “Over time, these bumps can develop bacteria” that can lead to scarring, she explains.
Making matters worse, women who are already losing their hair are more likely to favor these hairstyles because they help disguise thinning hair, the study notes.