Cleveland — Tight braiding or weaving may be the culprit in a type of permanent hair loss that affects many black women, Reuters reports.
Prolonged pulling at hair strands may cause inflammation of follicles, which has been shown to lead to scarring. This in turn can lead to central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, or scarring hair loss. In the past, the condition was attributed to hot-comb hair straightening. Little research had been directed at other possible causes, until a new study headed by Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Angela Kyei, M.D.
In the study, researchers administered health questionnaires and scalp examinations to 326 black women. Twenty-eight percent of the women showed signs of hair loss in their central scalps. Of those, almost 60 percent had signs of severe hair loss. More than half the women with this condition said they had braids, weaves or hair extensions, as compared to only a third of those with less severe hair loss.
While the study, published in Archives of Dermatology, does not prove that braiding or weaves cause scarring hair loss, it did find that women with the condition are also more likely to have type 2 diabetes and to have bacterial scalp infections.
Reuters quotes Dr. Kyei as saying, “This is just telling us there is a trend and we need to study it further. If there is any take-home message from this study, it is that hair grooming is not the only thing you should look at in these patients.”