Hair loss is an extremely sensitive subject for men. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge that you have a hair loss problem and further bravery to seek out treatment and advice.
The most common cause of hair loss for black men, is Male Pattern Baldness, an endogenous alopecia and because it is hereditary it is considered unavoidable. But the fact is, for black men, the causes of hair loss goes beyond the scope of Male Pattern Baldness. This is because a lot of the hair styling practices followed by men with afro hair types, such as dreadlocks, braids or cornrows can potentially trigger hair loss. Many black men with afro hair types are completely oblivious to the fact that some of their hair styling choices are causing hair loss, which is unfortunate because it is preventable and treatable. Hair loss caused by hair styling practices is avoidable because it is not hereditary or hormonal.
The Most Common Causes of Hair Loss for Black Men Because of Hair Styling: Dreadlocks
Dreadlocks have both religious and cultural significance for African American and Caribbean men. For black men, wearing this hair style can be considered a symbol of strength and rebellion against European colonialism. However, behind the symbolism and beauty of dreadlocks lay the unfortunate reality that locs are one of the most common causes of hair loss for black men outside of Male Pattern Baldness. Dreadlocks can trigger hair loss conditions such as Traction Alopecia and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia.
How Do Dreadlocks Cause Traction Alopecia for Black Men?
Traction Alopecia causes gradual hair loss over time, primarily caused by consistent hair pulling and addition weight being applied to hair repetitively, over a sustained period. The hair loss is initially discrete but has the potential to become severe and painfully visible if not treated and if hair styling practices aren’t adjusted. Men who wear dreadlocks, especially long locs, suffer from Traction Alopecia because the weight of the bonded hair puts strain and pressure of the hair bulb and scalp.
Also, because Afro hair is kinky the cuticles do not lay flat because of the curved nature of the shaft. Dreadlocks defy the natural curls/kink of afro hair through the processes of locking and re-twisting, which involves pulling and tugging, potentially causing the hair bulb to gradually separate from the hair follicle over a period of time causing sustained hair loss and hair thinning.
Repetitive and sustained pulling of your hair through re-twisting causes tension around the hair follicles which can result in inflammation which can cause scarring around the scalp and permanent hair loss or balding.
I Have Dreadlocks and Think I’m Suffering from Traction Alopecia – What Should I Do?
If you have dreadlocks, one way to stop the symptoms of Traction Alopecia is to reduce the length of the locs to mitigate the impact of stress on the hair bulb and scalp, in addition to undertaking treatment such as ProTress to restore hair growth. Some people go as far as abandoning dreadlocks altogether if the hair loss is extreme.
How Do Dreadlocks Cause Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia?
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is a hair loss condition that only effects people with afro hair types. Triggers of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia are either internal, i.e hormonal, or external i.e hair styling/care practices. Dreadlocks can be categorised as an external cause of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. The contributing factors of the weight of the locs, combined with scalp sensitivity to the gels and pomades used to loc and re-twist locs can trigger Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia usually starts with gradual hair loss in the 'Centre' of the scalp which then spreads outwards, which refers to the 'Centrifugal' element of the Alopecia. The scalp then becomes shiny as the follicular opening of the scalp closes and scars, which reflects the 'Cicatricial' component of the hair loss condition. Other symptoms of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia include tenderness of the scalp, itching and burning.
I Have Dreadlocks and Think I’m Suffering from Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia – What Should I Do?
If you wear dreadlocks and identify with the symptoms of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia and want to stop hair loss from spreading or becoming permanent, it is advisable to style hair naturally. This averts unnecessary pressure from being placed on the scalp, which aggravate the condition. If you find the idea of not wearing dreadlocks traumatic then reducing the length of your locs is an alternative. Seeking treatment, such as ProTress, to stimulate hair growth is also recommended to prevent permanent hair loss and restore hair growth.
Can Cornrows or Braids Cause Hair Loss for Black Men?
Braids and cornrows can cause Traction Alopecia and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia for black men. Tight cornrows might look really slick and attractive but if done too frequently and too tightly they can trigger hair loss. If hair is pulled to tightly it puts strain on the scalp and hair bulb, possibly causing gradual hair loss. Hair pulled tightly can also cause inflammation and scaring.
What is Male Pattern Baldness?
Male Pattern Baldness is the most common type of cause of hair loss for black men. Hair styling techniques are not the cause of this particular Alopecia. Male Pattern Baldness is a genetic hair loss condition that causes baldness, so if anyone in your family has this condition, you are at risk. The symptoms of Male Pattern Baldness are a receding hair line, that is particularly prominent at the temples, resembling a distinctive ‘M’ shape and/or balding in the centre of your scalp.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
Male Pattern Baldness is caused when hair follicles become minimised because of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a dominant hormone for men. The reduction in the size of hair follicles makes hair thin and more prone to fall, resulting in balding.
How Can I Prevent Male Pattern Baldness?
If you are suffering from Male Pattern Baldness and want to stop the hair loss, it is advisable that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer you leave Male Pattern Baldness untreated, the higher the risk of permanent hair loss.
To prevent the spread of Male Pattern Baldness, hair follicles need to be stimulated to prolong the Anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Lotion contains the patented Si MATRIX PF which helps to reactivate the peripheral micro circulation (blood flow around the scalp), as well as increasing the supply of oxygen to and nutrients to the hair bulb which stimulates hair growth and revitalises hair follicles, helping to extend the Anagen phase. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Lotion also contains revolutionary treatment for connective tissue recovery which helps to prevent the excessive shedding which happens when the hair is in an extended period of Telogen (the final stage of the hair growth cycle when hair falls), as a result of Male Pattern Baldness and the strong presence of DHT. ProTress helps to maintain the hair that has not been lost to the attack of DHT.