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Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they can confirm a “strong association” between common African-American hairstyles and the development of traction alopecia, which is the gradual loss of hair loss caused by damage to the hair follicle.

Prolonged tension on the hair root can trigger the loss of hair. An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, making it the most common form of hair loss among that group.

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In a report on their analysis, dermatologists are urged to better educate themselves about damaging hairstyles such as tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns, and are encouraged to advise patients of risks and alternatives.

“Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people,” says Crystal Aguh, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “but ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.”

Traction alopecia, she adds, is entirely preventable, and early intervention can stop or reverse it. ”We have to do better as care providers to offer our patients proper guidance to keep them healthy from head to toe,” she says.

Aguh and her colleagues categorize hair practices into low, moderate and high-risk styles. The highest-risk styles include braids, dreadlocks, weaves (glued or sew-in) and extensions, especially when applied to chemically straightened hair. These styles are popular among African-Americans because they are low maintenance and many consider them to be protective styles. Moderate risk styles include straightening the hair using heat, permanent waving and use of wigs.

Untreated and unprocessed hair, Aguh says, can withstand greater traction, pulling and brushing, and overall decreases the risk of traction alopecia, regardless of styling.

In their review, investigators recommend guidelines for dermatologists and haircare providers to prevent and manage hair loss from traction alopecia, The first tip, hair therapy. They also offer up alternate styles to allow follicles to recover from stress.

“Dermatologists need to be conscious of the fact that many high-and moderate-risk hairstyles greatly improve hair manageability, and simply telling patients to abandon them won’t work for everyone,” says Aguh. “Instead, physicians can educate themselves to speak with patients about making the best hair styling choices to minimize preventable hair loss.”

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19 thoughts on “Researchers Say Black Women’s Hairstyles Are Making Them Bald

  1. Really on said:

    Interesting.

    African women have been wearing braids since birth and their hair didn’t fall out. The next thing you know,JH will say that wearing natural will be ” harmful” for our hair.

    Far as I’m concerned this ” study” is another way to control Black women’s culture.

  2. S.D. on said:

    Although stresses on the hair and scalp will cause damage, the bottom line is to take care of whatever style you wear by keeping the scalp clean and the hair moisturized. Natural, including braids and locks is never going to go wrong. I gave up a perm eight years ago and since my hair is at its healthiest and has grown from should-length to mid-back. Hair care is of the upmost importance.

  3. chas on said:

    LISTEN BLACK FOLKS THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH!!!!! LOGIC IS LOGIC!!!!!! THE STRESS ON YOUR HAIR IS REAL!!!!!! STOP A SEC AND RECOGNIZE!!!!!!! 2PLUS2 MAKES 4!!!!!! LIGHTEN UP ON THE HAIR IT WILL KEEP YOU FROM CRYIN LATER!!!!!! WHEN YOU R BALD!!!!!!! RE: HARD HEAD MAKES SOFT ASS!!!!!!

  4. chas on said:

    PETEE YOU ARE JUST ANOTHER WHITE DEVIL SPEWIN SH–T OUT OF YOUR ASS KEEP IT TO YOUR SELF WHITEY IT WILL HELP BLACKEN YOU UP ASSHOLE!!!!!!!!!

  5. Christianforreal on said:

    There was much truth to the statements made by the white doctor at JHU. We ALL know they are not black. However speaking to what was said. Many of those hairstyles do cause hair breakage and loss. I truly question the dreadlocks, as it is a very low maintenance style and is NOT done with processed or permed hair and is my style of choice. And yes they would need research to discover that, considering those doctors do not live it because they are of another race. DUH!!!

    • Dee Gray on said:

      Christianforreal, I agree with you concerning dreadlocks. I’ve been wearing my hair locked for almost eighteen years, and although I’ve gotten it cut about four times during that timeframe, my hair is still about 19 – 23 inches long. Locks (there is nothing dreadful about our hair) is a low maintenance, low risk, healthy, natural, and glorious way to wear my hair; the WAY IT GROWS OUT OF MY HEAD. Those doctors need to do more research before putting out an erroneous statement that locks cause hair lossl

  6. Annie Hayes on said:

    I call Bs ,white people trying to tell us what is going on with our hair, I am 63 yrs old never had a perm, use to press, (old school) for the past 25 plus years I have neen natural,normally washing hair three times a week, condition with hot oil and my hair is healthy, I have never had weave in my hair, nor do I own a wig,people its common sense keep hair clea,pren and healthy and it will be just fine, quit making koreans and their family rich,and use that money to send your kids to college not theirs. Blessings……………….

    • African American Woman on said:

      Hahahaha! White people??? Who knows what color the researchers were; its the truth. Ironically, you just stated all the right things to do NOT to lose your hair…lol..always the victim.

      • MariAnne Bolton on said:

        Pete, you are absolutely correct, AND WE ARE PROUD OF IT, you piece of Sh- -!

    • Dee Gray on said:

      Annie Hayes, You are so right to say that paying all that big money to wear someone else’s hair (weaves, wigs) is sending someone else’s kids to college. Like you, I’m totally natural, (I wear locks) and I do my own hair except for the three trips to the salon a year for color touch ups. I’d rather invest my money than pay thousands of dollars a year for an unnatural style or weaves & wigs. No thanks.

    • MariAnne Bolton on said:

      AMEN, Annie Hayes! We Black ppl. have always helped to make OTHER raises wealthy. I’m in my 70’s (TYJ) and I know from experience that perms are bad for our hair, but we got caught up in wanting to have STRAIGHT hair like those OTHER ppl.Bcuz we were taught that was GOOD hair. We R BEAUTIFUL with our NATURAL hair!!

  7. African American Woman on said:

    They needed research to determine this? Lol. And please stop using the crap term “protective style.” you don’t protect your hair by slapping someone else’s on top of it. That’s a bullshit excuse to continue to waste money on hair and wear weaves without admitting the true reason why your wearing fake hair.

    • Butter Pecan on said:

      AAW, love to hear your take on the real reason so many black women wear weave. I have my theories, but will defer for now. Thank you

    • well, I wear it to change hair color without putting dye in my hair. My real hair is long and I keep it moisture under wigs or ponytails and I never keep them on when I am back home or sleeping. Everyone has their own reason and that is their choice.

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