Why Black Women Lose Their Hair


    A beautiful woman with a short pixie cut

    What are the most common causes of hair loss for black women?

    The idea that thinning hair is a guy problem is simply wrong. Forty percent of people who experience temporary or long term hair loss are women. Some have hair that is thinning all over, while others see the center part gradually widen. Still others develop distinct baldness at the crown of the head. Unlike men, women rarely develop a receding front hairline.

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    The average scalp has 100,000 hairs. Each follicle produces a single hair that grows at a rate of half an inch per month. After growing for two to six years, hair rests awhile before falling out. It’s soon replaced with a new hair, and the cycle begins again. At any given time, 85% of hair is growing, and the remainder is resting.

    So what are some common reasons for hair loss in women?

    Thyroid Problems

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate many processes throughout the body. If the gland makes too much or too little thyroid hormone, the hair growth cycle may falter. But hair loss is rarely the only sign of a thyroid problem. Other symptoms include weight gain or loss, sensitivity to cold or heat, and changes in heart rate.

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

    Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a chronic hormonal imbalance. The body makes higher levels of androgens than expected. This often causes extra hair to sprout on the face and body, while hair on the scalp grows thinner. PCOS can also lead to ovulation problems, acne, and weight gain. But sometimes thinning hair is the only obvious sign.

    Alopecia Areata

    Alopecia areata causes hair to fall out in startling patches. The culprit is the body’s own immune system, which mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles. In most cases, the damage is not permanent. The missing patches usually grow back in six months to a year. In rare cases, people may lose all of the hair on their scalp and body.

    Childbirth

    Some women may notice their hair seems fuller during pregnancy. That’s thanks to high levels of hormones that keep resting hairs from falling out as they normally would. But it doesn’t last forever. After childbirth, when hormone levels return to normal, those strands fall out quickly. This can mean a surprising amount of hair loss at one time. It may take up to two years for hair to return to normal.

    The Pill

    A little known side effect of birth control pills is the potential for hair loss. The hormones that suppress ovulation can cause hair to thin in some women, particularly those with a family history of hair loss. Sometimes hair loss begins when you stop taking the pill. Other drugs linked to hair loss include blood thinners and medicines that treat high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and depression.

    Tight Hairstyles

    It’s no myth: Wearing cornrows or tight ponytails can irritate the scalp and cause hair to fall out. The same is true of using tight rollers. Let your hair down, and it should grow back normally. Be aware that long-term use of these styles can cause scarring of the scalp and permanent hair loss.

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