Board-certified dermatologist discusses common types of hair loss in dark-skinned women
NEW ORLEANS, March 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Hair loss in women can be emotionally devastating and negatively impact quality of life, and new research suggests it may also be associated with other common medical conditions. A board-certified dermatologist at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in New Orleans will discuss the types of hair loss seen in dark-skinned women, common types of medical conditions associated with hair loss, and treatment options for hair loss.
“Research shows that women who experience hair loss may also have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, acne and breast cancer,” said a board-certified dermatologist. Valerie D CallenderMD, FAAD, professor of dermatology at Howard University College of Medicine. “By recognizing the signs of hair loss and seeing your dermatologist as soon as possible, you may be able to limit the progression, retain your hair, and discover any other underlying medical conditions.”
Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), which causes hair loss in the center or crown of the scalp, is the most common form of hair loss in dark-skinned women. It is estimated to affect nearly 15% of black women1says Dr. Callender.
Early detection is important to preserve and protect your hair, as CCCA can cause scarring by destroying hair follicles – the tiny openings from which your hair grows. While it is possible to regrow some hair, regrowing hair becomes difficult once the hair follicles are completely scarred and hair loss can be permanent.
A board-certified dermatologist can diagnose the type of hair loss you have and work with you to determine the best course of treatment for CCCA, which may include antibiotics, topical steroid medications, or corticosteroid injections. These medications can give patients relief from the pain, tenderness, and itching they feel in an affected area, and prevent scars from getting worse.
Conditions such as breast cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure2-3 are common in black women with CCCA, says Dr. Callender. If you have CCCA, your dermatologist may be able to tell you if the other symptoms you are experiencing are caused by a dermatological condition or if they are a symptom of another disease.
Another common form of hair loss is female pattern hair loss, which affects millions of women of all skin tones. In female hair loss, hair thins mainly on the top of the scalp and usually starts with a widening of the middle part of the hair. This type of hair loss is hereditary and many women with female pattern hair loss also have acne4 due to an increase in hormones, says Dr. Callender. While acne is more common in the early stages of female hair loss, menopause and high blood pressure are common as female hair loss progresses.
Minoxidil is a common treatment option for hair loss in women as it has been shown to reduce hair loss, stimulate hair growth and strengthen existing hair strands. While minoxidil can be found in drugstore products, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist because your hair loss may need to be treated with a higher prescription-only dosage. Your dermatologist can also advise you on how to apply the treatment to your scalp.
While braids, a ponytail, or an updo can look great, says Dr. Callender that haircuts that pull tightly on the hair can cause traction alopecia, which is a common type of hair loss in dark-skinned women due to hair styling.
“One of the first things I ask my patients who have a history of braiding is whether it hurts to have their hair braided,” said Dr. Callender. “Getting your hair done shouldn’t hurt, so if they’re in pain, it’s an indicator they may be developing traction alopecia.”
Fortunately, there are options that allow a person to maintain their sense of style without losing their hair. Loosening the haircut, avoiding frequent haircuts that pull your hair, and changing hairstyles can all help prevent traction alopecia.
It is especially important for women with any type of hair loss to consider the ingredients in their products. Dark-skinned women, especially those of African descent, have hair that tends to be coarse, dry, and fragile, says Dr. Callender. Some shampoos for dandruff and other scalp conditions can dry out hair further, leading to breakage. Dark-skinned patients should use shampoos and hair products with ingredients that moisturize their hair, such as vitamins A and E, jojoba oil, and shea butter.
“When treatments are not effective in preventing hair loss, a permanent solution is to consider a hair transplant, which produces natural-looking results,” said Dr. Calendar. “Hair transplants are most effective in patients with traction alopecia and female-pattern hair loss. While patients with CCCA are not always ideal candidates for a hair transplant due to scarring, it is possible for them to have success. A board-certified dermatologist can determine that whether a hair transplant is the right option.”
Board-certified dermatologists are the experts in the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss. Visit to find a board-certified dermatologist near you aad.org/findaderm.
Hair Loss Information Center
Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia
Female hair loss pattern
About the AD
Located in Rosemont, sick.Founded in 1938, the American Academy of Dermatology is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatology associations. With a membership of more than 20,800 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair, and nails; advocate for high standards in clinical practice, education and research in dermatology; and supporting and improving patient care because skin, hair and nail conditions can seriously impact your health and well-being. For more information, contact the AAD at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow up @AADskin Facebook, pinterest And YouTube and @AADskin1 on Instagram.
Editor’s Note: The AAD does not promote or endorse any products or services. This content is intended to be editorial content and should not be embedded in any paid, sponsored or advertising content as this may be construed as an AAD endorsement.
1uh, Crystal and Amy McMichael. “Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia.” JAMA dermatology, vol. 156, no. 9, September 1, 2020pp. 1036, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1859.
2 Comorbidities in patients with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia: a retrospective review of 53 patients Leung, Bonnie et al. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 88, Issue 2, 461 – 463
3Association of breast and colorectal cancer in patients with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia: a cross-sectional pilot study Brown-Korsah, JessicaRoche, Fritzlaine C. Taylor, Susan C. et al. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 85, Issue 3 , AB74
4The Comparison of Demographics and Comorbidity of Hair Loss by Clinical Subtype and Stage Özkoca, Defne et al. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 87, Issue 4, 779 – 783
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology