I’m a black woman suffering from hair loss and hair thinning. What should I do?
'I’m a black woman suffering from hair loss and hair thinning. What should I do?' – Marlene, London, UK
- Harmful hairstyling practices
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Lack of exercise
This blog will address each cause in turn with solutions and preventative measures.
Harmful Hair Styling Practices
Unbeknown to many black women, the way we style our hair can have detrimental effects, causing hair loss and hair thinning. Traction Alopecia and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia are hair loss and hair thinning conditions which are caused by hair styling techniques and hair care regimes. Traction Alopecia is the most common type of hair loss condition experienced by black women, followed closely by Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia.
What is Traction Alopecia?
Popular hairstyles for black women, such as ponytails, braids, locs, and weaves typically involve pulling and tugging the hair. Constantly pulling and tugging afro hair to style it in braids, locs (if you have locs and are suffering from hair loss, click here for more information and advice), weaves or ponytails causes a consistent loosening of the hairs from the hair follicle. The persistent loosening of hair from the hair follicle causes gradual hair loss, which reduces hair density, giving the appearance of hair thinning. If not treated in time, hair loss can become permanent, because the trauma caused to the hair follicle by hair styling becomes so intense it causes the hair follicle to die.
Applying frequent pressure to hair because of hair styling can also cause inflammatory cells to form around the hair follicle in the scalp, making the scalp sore and sensitive whilst perpetuating further hair loss and thinning. If you think you are suffering from Traction Alopecia, it is advisable to avoid hairstyling practices which tug and pull on the hair and scalp and undergo treatment which will stimulate hair growth, click here for more info.
What Is Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia?
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is a type of alopecia which predominantly effects women of African descent in their 40’s and 50’s. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia manifests when there is scar tissue in the scalp caused by applying excessive pressure or heat to hair and scalp, or through the application of harmful hair products. It is common for black women who style their hair in locs or braids to suffer from thinning on top, in the centre of their scalp, due to the constant drag of weighty locs or braids. Locs apply additional pressure to the scalp because hair which would shed naturally through the hair growth cycle remains loc’d into the loc, click here for more information. The scalp and hair bulb becomes overwhelmed by the extra weight and the trauma causes the scalp to become inflamed in the affected area. Braids which contain hair extensions also add additional weight and drag to the scalp, which the hair bulb is unable to sustain, resulting in inflammation and consequent scarring around the hair bulb and scalp. Over time the constant pressure, scarring and inflammation around the troubled area and hair follicle causes hair loss and thinning. click here for more information.
When scar tissue forms on the scalp it causes inflammation around the hair follicles which triggers hair loss. The pattern of hair loss usually begins at the centre of the scalp, spreading outwards, hence this alopecia is called ‘Central’ Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. If you recognise symptoms of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, wearing natural hairstyles that avoid applying pressure and heat to hair and scalp is advisable. Also, applying oils and creams directly to the scalp is not recommended, click here to learn more. Undergoing treatment which will soothe and heal the scalp whilst stimulating hair growth is advisable, click here for more information.
Stress and tiredness will have an adverse effect on the growth, health and vitality of your hair. For example, if you are stressed it might follow that you tense your body. When your body is tense, your scalp tightens and the blood capillaries contract which reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can reach the hair follicles, hindering hair growth. Oxygen and nutrients are vital to your hair’s growth and health.
If you are stressed, regular exercise can help to reduce tension because it releases endorphines which send 'feel good' messages to your brain, minimising your perception of distress.
ProTress Energising Shampoo and Lotion helps to counter the negative effects that stress has on your hair by facilitating blood flow around the scalp which aids the transference of nutrients and oxygen to the hair bulb, stimulating hair growth.
High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension
Stress can also cause conditions like high blood pressure, medically known as ‘hypertension’ which can cause hair loss. High blood pressure can cause hair loss because it has an adverse effect on the circulation of blood around the body. Also, your body responds to stress by releasing Adrenalin. Adrenalin causes your heart to beat faster whilst making blood vessels narrow which has a restricting effect on the flow of blood around the body.
Consequently, Adrenalin hinders the flow of blood around the body, including the scalp, which results in less nutrients and oxygen being passed to the hair bulb to assist the formation of hair. All of which has an adverse effect on hair growth and hair strength, possibly resulting in hair loss.
If you are suffering from high blood pressure and have to take medication to control the condition, it is advisable to pursue a healthy balance diet and do regular exercise to regulate blood flow.
If you are stressed or suffering from high blood pressure or stress, your doctor might prescribe medication to ease the strain. Excessive use of prescription drugs can also cause hair loss because the chemicals get into your blood stream and get transferred to your hair bulb, contaminating your hair structure. I
Hormone imbalances can cause Areata Alopecia and Telogen Effluvium. We will address each one in turn:
Alopecia Areata is caused by an autoimmune disorder which causes hair loss and prevents hair growth in patches around the scalp. The autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack hair follicles whilst in the growth (Anagen) stage which stops hair growth. Hair loss is caused through inflammation as T cell lymphocytes (natural killer cells) cluster around affected hair follicles. Alopecia Areata typically manifest in multiple circular bald patches around the scalp.
ProTress is effective at treating Areata Alopecia
Telogen Effluvium is a common form of temporary hair loss that occurs because of stress, trauma or shock. Telogen Effluvium is named after the penultimate stage of the hair growth cycle, which is the Telogen stage. The Telogen stage occurs when hair naturally sheds as the hair follicle detaches from the hair bulb because it is no longer in receipt of blood and nutrients, which facilitates growth and only occurs across an average of 10% of total hair mass at any time. The first stage of hair formation known as the Anagen stage. The next stage is the Catagen stage when hair makes the transition to get ready to shed and rest. The final stage is Telogen, when the hair bulb rests for a few months, before resuming the hair creation process. When suffering from Telogen Effluvium, hair remains in the Telogen (hair loss stage) for longer than a few months and more that 10% of hair follicles are affected. This means that the rate of hair loss increases because hair is not being replenished.
The symptoms of Telogen Effluvium involve prolonged hair loss for 6 months or affecting 30% of hair mass, causing the body of hair to look thin.
To reduce the impact of Telogen Effluvium, reducing stress by exercise, can be helpful. Also, seeking treatment such as ProTress which assists in reactivating the hair follicle to restore hair growth can minimise the condition
Menopause significantly disrupts hormones, which changes the way your body functions. Hormone disruptions include a reduction in the production of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone assist hair growth and prolongs the anagen (hair growth) stage of the hair growth cycle, maintaining hair on your head for longer and prevents premature hair loss. As levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, the gap is filled with an increase in testosterone. A by-product of testosterone is DHT. DHT minimises hair follicles, making hair thin and more vulnerable to breakage. To make matters worse, whilst DHT shrinks hair follicles on the scalp, testosterone promotes facial hair growth, which is why women tend to suffer from facial fuzz during menopause.
How Can Black Women Prevent Hair Loss During Menopause?
Stress is a monumental trigger to menopausal symptoms and hair loss, so managing it is crucial. Exercise is one way to reduce stress because it allows for endorphins to be released which triggers positive feelings in the body, lifting your mood. Exercise also improves blood flow around the scalp which can stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss.
Get Hair Loss Treatment
ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion counteracts the negative effects of menopause and stress on hair. ProTress Energising Lotion contains the patented Si MATRIX PF which helps to re-establish 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 reactivate the Anagen phase. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Lotion also contains revolutionary treatment for connective tissue recovery, making hair thicker, stronger and less prone to breakage or shedding, thereby reducing hair loss. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Lotion contains anti ageing components which counteracts the negative effects that ageing has on hair growth.
Experiencing hair loss around three months after giving birth is not uncommon and the condition is known as Postpartum Alopecia. The process of giving birth can have a traumatic, stressful and shocking impact on the body and as such can disrupt the hair growth cycle, resulting hair loss. Hair loss can be experienced up to a year after giving birth. Postpartum Alopecia causes 30% or more of your hair to remain in the Telogen stage of the hair growth cycle (the norm is for only 10% of your hair to be in the Telogen stage of the hair growth cycle at any time), causing an abnormal amount of hair to shed.
Also, after giving birth, levels of estrogen drop. Estrogen protects the hair bulb and as this protection wanes because of declining levels of estrogen, the number of androgens rise. Androgens shrink hair follicles, making hair thin, brittle, and prone to breakage and hair loss.
Because the creation of hair is dependent on the flow of blood around the scalp, passing oxygen and vital nutrients such as protein to the hair bulb to form hair, lack of exercise can hinder this process. Exercise helps to improve circulation of blood around the body and scalp, so lack of exercise can slow down the hair creation process. Exercise also helps to reduce levels of stress by releasing endorphines to your brain, which in turn, minimises your perception of pain. So if you want to eradicate stress and keep hair loss at bay, start exercising, right away!
Jogging – Cardio is a great way to get blood to circulate around your entire body, including your scalp which promotes hair growth, preventing hair loss. Also vigorous exercise like jogging can make you sweat, particularly your scalp which helps to flush out toxins that can cause hair loss.
Neck Exercise – Stretching neck muscles by moving your head up and down and side to side can help to release tension and stress trapped in the neck and surrounding muscles which can obstruct the constant flow of blood to the scalp.
Breathing Exercise – Doing breathing exercises can prevent hair loss because it increases the amount of oxygen in circulation in your body which in turn improves the level of oxygen in blood. Oxygen is a vital component for hair formation because it is passed to the hair bulb via blood flow.
Your diet will affect the growth, health and shine of your hair. The nutrients in the blood, particularly protein, are transferred to the hair bulb, resulting in the formation of hair cells. Nutrients form the basis of hair creation. So, a poor, un- nutritious diet that is low in protein, will affect the amount of nutrients in the blood, thereby influencing the rate of hair growth negatively. Learn about more ways to avoid hair loss by clicking here. ProTress Energising Shampoo and Lotion helps to counter the negative effects that stress has on your hair by facilitating blood flow around the scalp which aids the transference of nutrients and oxygen to the hair bulb, stimulating hair growth
Treatment for Hair Loss and Hair Thinning
If you are suffering from hair loss or hair thinning and want your healthy head of hair back, then you will most likely need to undergo treatment to prevent further hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion is a three-month treatment pack that works in tandem with the science of your hair’s growth cycle. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion revitalises hair follicles and increases the rate at which blood flows around the scalp and passes nutrients and oxygen to the hair bulb (Microcirculation), which restores hair growth and stops excessive hair loss. The patented formula, which contains Si Matrix PF, has all the nutrients which your hair needs to grow, making hair thicker and stronger.
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 the Telogen stage, (when hair falls), as a result of the strong presence of DHT. ProTress prevents further hair loss and restores hair growth by revitalising hair follicles and extending the Anagen (growth stage) of the hair growth cycle.
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