Although last month was marked as National Alopecia Awareness Month, the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), continually aims to draw attention to the condition which results in hair loss. While many of us whine and complain about the few hairs that come out our heads daily, African American women who make up nearly 40% of the estimated 80 million people in the U.S. who have suffered from Alopecia at some time in their lives.
It isn’t a game, and while there are seven common types of Alopecia, Black women often suffer from Traction Alopecia, hair loss caused by relaxers, texturizers, other chemicals, tight braids & cornrows, sewn-in hair extensions, glued-in hair extensions, improperly applied lace wig, wigs, and tight ponytails.
This condition often results in major shedding, thinning, patches, hair clumps, or even a fully bald head. The constant pulling, tension and/or chemical damage can also cause great emotional distress considering how much women view their hair as their crowning glory.
If caught early the condition is preventable and often times reversible. Hair styles that put unnecessary strain on the hair root must be changed for looser, more gently put together hair styles.
Sadly, I know about hair loss all too well, because I suffer from Alopecia Areata. Often when new spots are found, my dermatologist prescribes me the next best shampoo or administers medicated needle shots in my head to stop the spots from getting bigger, and to jump start my new growth.
Stress often make things worse, but the catch 22 is that the condition causes stress. Struggling with Alopecia has made me lose my self esteem, sex appeal, sass, and confidence. No longer am I able to rock the braids, sew in or glue weaves, short cuts, or color I once loved because being versatile with my hair choices only makes balding patches worse or draws attention to them.
I am forced to brush my longer hair over the Alopecia spots, trying to find the strength to deal with it all. People try to encourage me and comfort me by saying, ‘It’s only hair,’ often forget how much hair makes us women stand out and feel good about the way we look.
So by all means, if you suffer from any of these Alopecia’s, please see a dermatologist immediately, so that your condition doesn’t worsen or become permanent. Unfortunately, no medical treatment is available to reverse late-stage Traction Alopecia, and expensive hair grafts have been identified as the only practical solution.
If you already deal with Traction Alopecia, take the recommended daily allowance of your vitamins and minerals in addition to supplementing your diet with biotin, amino acids, Vitamin C, and folic acid. Visit hairlossspecialists.com for additional products outside of what your doctor recommends, but always stay well informed and educated. - TAMARA HOPKINS