One in Three Black Women Get Alopecia from Their Hairstyles


I get it. Really. We live in a world where there is a lot of importance placed on physical aspect, so you have to make sacrifices. Looks may not be everything, but they certainly are important. So you sacrifice and you sacrifice until finally the outer shell gives up and starts resembling your inner self – tired and exhausted with all the effort and ready to give up.

That is one of the most common things happening to people in this day and age. And while some may want to say that it’s their own fault for putting so much heart into what “they” want, it’s not actually that simple. Not at all. Because when you say “they”, you mean society. And you can’t really go against society.

So, an increasing number of people have developing health issues because of their excessive concerns over how they look. In fact, according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, one in three black women get alopecia from their hairstyles.

The team performed a meta-analysis of nineteen different studies and despite the fact that they could find no cause and effect relationship because of the nature of the study, they did find a strong connection between hairstyles that pull your hair back and traction alopecia.

Traction alopecia, for those not in the know, is one of the most common types of hair loss, manifested as gradual hair loss from damage to the hair follicle because of the tension at its root. It is now affecting one in three African-American women, according to the study.

For more information, the hairstyles in question are primarily tight ponytails, braids, weaves, dreadlocks, cornrows, extension, and pretty much any other hairstyle that pulls on the hair too tightly. The conditions can get even worse if the hair has been chemically straightened before.

According to Dr. Crystal Aguh, assistant Dermatology professor at Johns Hopkins, women have to first consider their health before they start thinking about their looks:

Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people but ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage. […]We have to do better as care providers to offer our patients proper guidance to keep them healthy from head to toe.

Fortunately, the condition is highly preventable and quite easily treatable if the stress factors on the hair go away and if the condition is caught early on. The doctors’ best suggestion is to avoid hairstyles that put too much stress on your hair and to go to a doctor as soon as you suspect you might get alopecia.

Image source: Wikimedia