Suffering from Afro Hair Loss? All You Need to Know About Afro Hair Loss, Preventative Measures for Afro Hair Loss and Cures.
There is a lot of misinformation about afro hair; how it should be cared for and styled. Unfortunately, much of this misinformation can cause afro hair loss or afro hair breakage.
Below are some of the biggest misconceptions about afro hair and the implications these myths have on the health and quality of afro hair which can result in hair loss or infection:
- Myth or Fact: I Must Grease My Scalp
Most ethnic groups with afro hair types have been led to believe that it is necessary to grease or moisturise their scalps. However, the science of the scalp proves otherwise. Just beneath your scalp is a sebaceous gland that produces a natural oil called ‘sebum’ which serves the purpose of moisturising your scalp, hair and protecting your scalp from bacteria and infection. Sebum secretes on the scalp surface, lubricating the scalp whilst coating the hair, providing it with vital oils, nutrients and ant-bacterial agents as your hair shoots up from the hair bulb through the skins surface.
It must be noted that because afro hair is curly/kinky, the sebum only manages to coat the first inch of hair as it is unable to flow all the way down the coil to the end of the hair. Dry hair is a common complaint for people with afro hair types. Dry hair normally occurs because the sebum cannot not flow to the hair tip, unlike straight hair worn by caucasians, where the sebum flows easily from the scalp all the way down to the tip. So, to avoid dry hair, ethnic groups with afro hair types or curly hair types must moisturise their hair starting one inch away from their scalp down to the tip. So, in conclusion, science proves that you do not need to moisturise your scalp, but you must moisturise your hair. Answer: Myth.
The Side Effect of Greasing Your Scalp: Scalp Infections and Hair Loss
Sebum has two important functions: (1) moisturising the hair and scalp and (2) protecting the scalp from bacteria and infection. The sebaceous gland produces an acid mantle which protects the scalp from bacterial invasion through the release of sebum on the scalp. If you grease or moisturise your scalp with oils, creams or moisturisers, you will block the pores which allow the sebum to secrete on the scalp, blocking a natural defence against scalp bacteria, potentially triggering a condition called ‘Scalp Folliculitis’ or ‘Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia’.
What is Scalp Folliculitis?
Scalp Folliculitis is the bacterial infection and consequential inflammation of the hair follicle. Scalp Folliculitis is caused when the hair follicle becomes damaged, due to pulling, tugging, the application of unnecessary stress (‘Traction Alopecia’) or chemical processing. When the follicle becomes damaged, it becomes particularly vulnerable to infection if sebum (your hair and scalps natural anti-bacterial agent) is blocked because you grease/moisturise your scalp. Once your follicle becomes infected with bacteria, the follicle can become inflamed, potentially causing scaring and hair loss. Unfortunately, the bacteria can spread, infecting various sections of the scalp.
How Do You Know if You Have Scalp Folliculitis?
If you suspect you have Scalp Folliculitis, you might see small, red bumps on your scalp that increase in size and become inflamed over time. Severe cases of Scalp Folliculitis might include sores that drain pus, scabbing, itching, burning, pain and or tenderness.
How To Treat Scalp Folliculitis
Go to your local GP to get anti biotics to treat the bacteria. Once the infection has been cured, you might require treatment to reactivate hair growth, such as ‘ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion’.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is a hair loss condition that exclusively effects ethnic groups with afro hair. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia causes hair loss to occur in the centre of the scalp, which spreads outwards, referring to the, ‘Centrifugal’ element of the condition. Scarring is also a symptom of the hair loss condition which refers to the ‘Cicatricia’ component. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia typically effects women in their 40’s and 50’s.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia was initially called ‘Hot Comb Alopecia’ because it primarily occurred amongst women with afro hair types who used the hair straightening technique of applying heavy oils to the hair followed by combing the hair through with a hot comb until straight. However, once the hot comb technique became antiquated, the condition of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia continued to persist amongst ethnic groups with afro hair types. Although there is no concrete evidence to explain why ethnic groups with afro hair types suffer from Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, it is believed that hair styling and hair care techniques, such as greasing/moisturising your scalp with creams and oils trigger the hair loss condition.
Greasing or moisturising your scalp with creams and oils isn’t the only cause of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, there are internal and external factors:
- Tight hair styles (braids/dreadlocks/weaves etc)
- Sensitivity to oils/gels/pomades/oils
- Chemical trauma (relaxer)
- Thermal insult (tongs/hot comb/straighteners etc)
- Abrasion from scratching itchy areas
- Autoimmune disorder
- Bacterial infection
- Fungi infection
- Genetic influences
If you have Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia and would like to prevent the symptoms of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia from spreading, natural hairstyles are encouraged because this averts unnecessary pressure from being placed on the scalp, which aggravate the condition. Other recommendations include avoiding the following:
- Hair relaxer
- Heat application (blow dryers, hot combs, flat irons and hooded dryers)
- Weaves, hair extensions, tight braids and dreadlocks
- Hair styles where the hair is tightly pulled
- Any hair style that causes discomfort or irritation
- Greasing/Moisturising the scalp
In addition to adhering to the recommendations above, it is also advisable to seek treatment for Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia as soon as possible to prevent the spread of afro hair loss and to avoid permanent afro hair loss. Many people with afro hair types suffering from Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia have achieved positive results using ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion.
- Myth 2: Afro Hair is Thick and Strong
The intense curl and kink of afro hair means that it is frequently mistaken for thickness and strength, which often results in hair being pulled and tugged tightly. Afro hair is, actually, quite fine which makes the hair delicate and therefore should be handled gently and with care. The implications of tugging and tightly pulling fine hair repetitively can result in form of hair loss, medically identified as Traction Alopecia. Answer: Myth
The Side Effects of Believing Afro Hair is Thick and Strong: Hair Loss in the Form of Traction Alopecia
Traction Alopecia is a form of afro hair loss that is gradual. The gradual loss of afro hair is caused by constant pulling of hair strands or excessive pressure applied to scalp and hair. The constant and repetitive pulling of the hair puts a strain on the hair follicle, making hair fragile and prone to breakage. The strain on the hair follicle can become so intense that it can cause the hair follicle to separate from the hair bulb entirely, as well as causing inflammation around the hair bulb and scalp. The damage and inflammation caused by repetitive pulling, tugging and pressure can cause hair follicles to become atrophied so that they stop producing any hair, causing hair loss to become permanent.
Hair Styles That Cause Traction Alopecia
Hair styles that can cause Traction Alopecia are tight ponytails, braids, dreadlocks, weaves, tight wigs and hair Extensions.
Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed or Treated?
To stop Traction Alopecia from spreading avoid the hairstyles that caused it. For example, if you have been wearing your hair in a tight ponytail, try a looser ponytail. If you are a fan of braids, weaves or hair extensions and experiencing Traction Alopecia, give your hair a rest from these hair style for a few months. If you have dreadlocks, re-twist less frequently and not so tightly and you might also want to consider reducing the length through trimming to ease the weight/drag on the scalp caused by each long dread. Once you stop putting constant pressure on your hair and scalp, hair loss will cease to continue but that doesn’t mean that your hair will automatically grow back or become thick. It is likely that you will require treatment such as ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion to restore hair growth and get healthier, stronger hair.
- Myth 3: I Shouldn’t Wash my Afro Hair Frequently
A common belief for ethnic groups with afro hair types is that you should avoid washing your hair frequently and that washing your hair once a month or bi-monthly will suffice. The reasoning behind this line of thought, is natural afro hair is unmanageable normally and by adding water to afro hair makes management worse as it is believed water leaves the hair free from moisture after drying. Add to the mix, one water is applied, afro hair is prone to shrinkage, which is often disheartening when seeking length. However, your hair is like a plant; both consist of dead matter and require water to grow and remain hydrated and healthy. Also washing your hair at least once a week, assists in cleansing the scalp from a build-up of products, dirt and sebum, which would otherwise block the follicles, preventing fresh sebum from coming through to keep bacteria away whilst moisturising the hair and scalp. Answer: Myth
Side Effects of Not Washing Your Hair Frequently: Dry, Brittle Hair, Prone to Breakage
One way to get water to your hair and scalp is through frequent washes. Remember, our hair is dead matter, just like a plant, so, imagine a plant that has not been watered for 6 weeks – it will look ill, wilting, limp and weak and leaf’s will start to fall away. The same principle can be applied to hair, by not exposing your hair to water it becomes dry, thirsty, limp, weak, dull and falls away. Washing your hair at least once a week will be a game changer for the quality, strength, length and health of your hair.
Myth and misconceptions about Afro hair and hair regimes we should follow are not the only causes of hair breakage or hair loss. There are a range of other factors that can trigger hair loss for ethnic groups with afro hair types:
Stress and tiredness have an adverse effect on the growth, health and vitality of your hair. For example, if you are stressed it might follow that you unconsciously 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 growth. Oxygen and nutrients are vital to your hair growth and the health of your hair.
It is possible that stress can trigger hair loss conditions such as Alopecia Areata or Telogen Effluvium.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition that triggers dramatic amounts of hair loss. It has been suggested that Alopecia Areata can be triggered by stress or trauma, although there is currently no evidence to support this claim. The autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack hair follicles whilst in the growth (Anagen) stage which stops hair growth. Hair loss is caused when ‘T Cell Lymphocytes’, a natural killer of cells, cluster around affected hair follicles, causing inflammation. Alopecia Areata typically manifest in multiple circular bald patches around the scalp, the size of 10 pence coin. Alopecia Areata affects both men and women. Alopecia Areata can also affect facial hair (beard, eyebrows, eyelashes etc) and body hair. In its most severe form Alopecia Areata can affect the entire scalp (Alopecia Totalis) or the entire body and scalp (Alopecia Univeralis).
Although there is not a cure to prevent the return of Alopcia Areata, effective treatment such as ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion revitalises hair follicles and accelerates the flow of blood around the scalp, activating the Anagen stage of hair growth which stimulates hair growth.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen Effluvium is a common form of temporary hair loss that occurs as a result of stress, trauma or shock. This type of hair loss 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 next stage is the Exogen stage where the hair bulb then rests for a few months, before resuming the hair creation process; the first stage of hair formation known as the Anagen stage. 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.
ProTress Energising Shampoo and Lotion helps to counter the negative effects that stress has on your hair by facilitating the circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the scalp and stimulating the Anagen phase of the hair growth cycle with patented Si Matrix PF.
- Poor Diet
Your diet will affect the growth, health and shine of your hair, because your hair is formulated from the nutrients that you digest. Hair is formed when 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 having a negative effect on the rate of hair growth.
ProTress Energising Lotion contains all the nutrients that your hair requires to formulate hair, stimulating hair growth.
Prior to menopause, women produce high levels of oestrogen which protects the hair roots. Oestrogen helps to keep hair strong, preventing breakage. When women enter the phase of menopause the amount of oestrogen they produce dramatically falls, making hair weaker, thinner and prone to fall. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Line contains Si MATRIX PF which has anti-aging components, regenerating and re-energising the scalp, making hair stronger a preventing hair loss.
- Child Birth
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. The good news is that this is temporary, the hair will grow back and resume its regular hair growth cycle.
If you are suffering from hair loss, it is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid permanent hair loss or damage to the scalp. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion contains the patented Si Matrix PF, which is a revolutionary treatment for hair loss that stimulates hair growth. Si Matrix PF is a fundamental nutrient for the scalp, guaranteeing a balance of good, healthy hair. Si Matrix PF is ideal for re-balancing and reactivating the scalp, revitalising hair follicles, restoring hair growth whilst stimulating and strengthening hair. Once the Lotion is applied to the scalp, a tingling sensation will happen as the lotion massages the scalp, increasing blood flow (peripheral micro circulation), improving the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the hair bulbs, whilst also revitalising hair follicles which reactivates hair growth.