Many black women suffer from severe permanent hair loss, but little research has been done on the causes of the problem, often dismissed as a cosmetic worry. Still, chemicals used to straighten hair have long been suspected of playing a role.
Now, in one of the first attempts to assess the prevalence of hair loss among black women, researchers have reported that nearly one-third of a group of 326 black women had a type of central hair loss called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, or C.C.C.A., which is diagnosed almost exclusively in black women.
The informal study, published online on Monday in Archives of Dermatology, also found that the women with the most extensive hair loss had higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and bacterial scalp infections than those with mild or no hair loss.
Women with extensive hair loss also were significantly more likely to have used braids, weaves and extensions in their hair.
Dr. Angela Kyei, the paper’s lead author and chief resident at the Cleveland Clinic Institute of Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, said the report was one of the first to provide insight into the scope of the severe hair loss and suggested the problem is not just skin deep.
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