Getting to the Root of Alopecia

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Hair loss has become a hot button issue in hair care, especially in the natural hair community. As both hair care enthusiasts and stylists become increasingly aware of this growing problem, they start seeking out solutions. Luckily, in our modern age we have many different tools available to not only help us understand hair loss but also find solutions to fix it.

Although commonly thought of as its own condition, hair loss is actually a symptom of a condition called alopecia. Different forms of alopecia may have various signs and symptoms. “The most common form of hair loss – or alopecia – in African American women is called CCCA – Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. It can sometimes be associated with symptoms of scalp itching, burning or tenderness,” said Dr. Yolanda Lenzy, a board-certified dermatologist. Her research and clinical practice focuses on hair and scalp disorders, and skin disease in people of color.

“One of the common forms in young men is called Dissecting Cellulitis. It can be associated with scabs and mild draining,” added Lenzy. She believes that proper treatment lies in an accurate diagnosis. She recommends getting a proper diagnosis from a board-certified dermatologist, preferably one that specializes in hair loss.

“The most popular [symptom] is called traction,” said Anita Hill Moses, licensed cosmetologist and natural hair care specialist. As an alopecia sufferer herself, she spent four years researching and studying the condition and went onto create her own brand, Natural Hair Restoration (NHR).

According to Moses, traction is very easy to recognize. It’s usually caused by braids, weaves, and ponytails that are installed too tightly. “Anything that pulls that hair and causes the hair to pop out of the follicle could cause traction,” she explained. A clear indication of traction is thinning around the hairline, the crown of the head, and noticing a wider part if you part the hair a certain way.

One way a stylist can recognize the signs of hair loss is by investing in continuing education to receive proper training. Cosmetology schools offers a very basic understanding of hair loss but not enough in-depth information is given to help recognize the various signs. To help stylists fill this need, Lenzy created the Getting to the Root Hair Loss Academy – a 12-week, continuing education program that can be taken online at www.gettingtotherootbook.com.

Certain types of alopecia are treatable, namely the non-scarring types like Trichorrhexis Nodosa or breakage – especially if caught early. Hair restoration products, salon treatments and herbal remedies can be used. Moses’ company has their own remedy called NHR Natural Hair Restoration Scalp Rejuvenator. “It contains all herbs that will heal the scalp and it will also regenerate the hair follicles so that the hair will start to grow back in.” If not caught early enough, alopecia could cause permanent hair loss.

Brenda Jonson, a patient of Lenzy’s, had noticed her symptoms four years ago. She had a bald spot and a very itchy scalp. “I had been to dermatologists before, of course. But they don’t specify in the work that she does for black people’s hair,” said Johnson. Previous dermatologists never even informed her that she had alopecia. After seeing Lenzy and receiving treatment, Johnson started to see results. The itching stopped immediately and hair growth started becoming noticeable after a year. Now, she has a full head of hair and is completely satisfied.

Fortunately, there is a way to prevent hairstyling-induced forms of styling like Traction Alopecia or thin edges. “This can certainly be prevented by limiting hair styling which added tension or weight to the follicles like braids, sew-in weaves or locs,” said Lenzy.

Moses notes that many people go to stylists looking for them to recreate a hairstyle that they might see in a magazine, instead of asking for the stylist’s credentials. “Most licensed and trained stylists know how to braid the hair, put in a weave, and put in chemicals without causing damage,” said Lenzy. “They know how to grip the hair and they have special techniques that they use when they’re applying these different styles that will not cause that kind of damage.”

Meet Khalia
Writing has always been in Khalia’s future, as she’s been writing since elementary school. Oddly enough, she graduated from the University of West Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. Yet, she chose to ditch that career path to pursue her passion in writing. When she’s not writing short stories, she’s doing nail art and listening to Kpop.

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