by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action
Over one-fourth of 326 black women to participate in a study on hair loss were found to have lost hair on the top of their scalp. Additionally, 59 percent of the study’s participants showed signs of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, otherwise known as CCCA. CCCA is a form of baldness that starts at the crown of the head and causes scarring.
For years, many people thought that alopecia was caused by hot combs. Actually, it is caused by braids, weaves and other hairstyles. According to the study, it was determined that having these hairstyles for long periods of time leads to the creation of pus-filled bumps. According to Angela Kyei, M.D., the lead researcher in the study, the bumps can “develop bacteria,” causing scarring.
Women who are already balding tend to favor these hairstyles, since they are the best for hiding balding. The problem is that these hairstyles worsen the problem. They recommend that young children should not have these hairstyles and that women who are experiencing balding should get evaluated immediately.
There is almost nothing more important than a black woman’s hair. Many women spend money they don’t have and run back and forth to the hair salon as if their lives depended on it. The obsession with hair is interesting and traditional, but perhaps deserves a bit of rethinking. Given that the black hair care industry is 98% controlled by people who are not African American, we may need to find better uses for our money anyway.