For most people, the thought of losing their hair is terrifying. So, isn’t it a little strange when people do things that put them at a greater risk for hair loss?!
Specific beauty practices might make you look better in the short term, but in the long term, they can lead to alopecia (the fancy, scientific name for hair loss). Specifically, most of these people wind up suffering from Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, or “CCCA” for short.
What is CCCA?
It’s a type of hair loss that starts at the crown of the head. The people who are most likely to suffer from it are those who wear severe hair styles, like braids and weaves. Because the hair is pulled so tight — and pulled so close to the scalp — and then left like that for weeks at a time, damage to both the hair and the follicle results. Eventually, the damage can be so severe that it results in permanent hair loss.
Because African-American women are most likely to wear weaves and braids, they’re also the most likely to fall victim to CCCA. In fact, a recent study showed that 59% of CCCA sufferers are African-American women.
And, because weaves and braids are worn for so long — without washing the hair — it damages the structure of the hair itself, making it more likely to fall out. So, even if you don’t wear one of these hairstyles, you’re still at risk for CCCA if you don’t wash and condition your hair on a regular basis. And, if you use a bunch of styling products, you REALLY need to be diligent about keeping your hair clean and conditioned.
Weaves and braids are the most dangerous styles, though. In addition to all of that tugging, there are a few other complications that come with wearing them. For example, using too much glue, using unsterilized hair extensions to the weave, and braiding the hair in the same pattern over and over again can all boost your chances of suffering hair loss.
Does that mean you have to give up these hairstyles altogether?
You just have to be careful with them. By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of alopecia:
1. Find out where your hair extensions came from
The company providing them needs to brag about its sterilization processes. If your extensions aren’t keep sanitary during shipping, parasites and insects can make their way into the package — and, ultimately, into your hair.
2. Don’t over-glue
It’s not natural for your skin to come into contact with glue, because it prevents your pores from breathing. If you use too much glue to control your hair, it will literally suffocate your follicles — and, eventually, they won’t be able to produce any new hair.
3. Don’t be too tight
A good rule of thumb for your braids is if they hurt, you’re putting too much pressure on your hair roots and follicles. Don’t try to get used the pain. If you do, you’ll actually wind up numbing your nerve endings and killing your hair follicles!
4. Don’t wait too long
As a general rule, your braids or weave should only be left in for 4 weeks. Taking them out gives your scalp and your hair a chance to breathe. In addition to lowering your chances of hair loss, it will also lower your chances of developing fungus and infections on your scalp!
Bottom line — self-inflicted hair loss can be prevented with some good ol’ common sense!
Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and pilates.
Photo Credit: mikebaird
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