Black Women & CCC Alopecia: 5 Things You Must Know

African American Black woman bun hairstyle

Out of all races, a type of hair loss called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) affects Black women more, according to recent research by dermatologist Dr. Yolanda Lenzy of Lenzy Dermatology & Hair Loss Center.

“We’re still researching the exact cause, but we think it’s multifactorial: one being genetics,” Lenzy says. “We do know that people of African descent are more prone to scarring conditions like keloids and CCCA is a scarring type of alopecia so it may be a genetic predisposition in a lot of people.”

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Common hair styles and hair care norms also play an essential part in the inequality.

“Certain hair care practices like braids, weaves and locs have been associated with this condition, and Black women tend to wear those styles more than women of other races.”

Because of Black women’s predisposition to CCCA, it’s important to understand both the risk and severity of this form of hair loss. Here are five things you need to know:

1. Your protective styles may not be so protective.

The braids and sew-ins may not require your hair to be manipulated with heat and styling as often. But when they’re too tight and done too often, your hair suffers. Instead of getting these styles back-to-back, you need a break.

“Doing certain styles to give your hair a rest is okay, but if you do that for a prolonged period of time, that’s too much weight and tension on the follicles, and that can lead to inflammation,” Lenzy says.

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2. Get a real diagnosis.

Types of alopecia are different diseases with different causes and treatments so a professional diagnosis is vital to stopping hair loss.

“Alopecia isn’t a diagnosis; it just means hair loss in Latin,” Lenzy says. “So it really depends on the type of hair loss because there are different frequencies [of hair loss] that we see based on the type.”