3 Hair Loss Conditions Caused by Natural Hair Practices

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By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

Women with natural hair often manipulate their hair quite heavily when it comes to styling. Care has to be taken to be gentle to hair as certain practices can lead to damage to the scalp and hair loss which can be irreversible. Here are some conditions to watch out for:

Weak hair at the temples ( Proximal Trichorrhexis nodosa)

Signs: Hair at the temples fails to reach a normal length and is abnormally fragile. Often people with this will have at one point seen white flecking (white dots) at the area of concern.
Reasons: For natural hair, this form of weakness arises from physical trauma such as excessive brushing/combing, styles that stress the hair (e.g tight braiding, braiding hair that is not sufficiently long enough, tight ponytails/puffs), excessive scratching or massaging. Chemical trauma is also a possible cause for example from hair dye or bleach.
Treatment: Removing the source of trauma and letting the area affected recover. New hair is needed to take over the area and do remember that a full hair cycle can be quite long. A full hair cycle is estimated to take upto 3 years but can be much longer for some (for example if hair grows to waistlength or longer, the hair cycle is around 5 years). Therefore it is estimated that complete recovery can take 2-4 years i.e the time period for the hair follicles in the region to get to a new anagen phase.

Traction alopecia

Signs: Gradual hair loss around the temples or in an area of stress (e.g where a ponytail is normally secured)
Reasons: The most common cause in natural hair is tight braiding and tight hair styles.
Treatment: Traction alopecia can take several years to become noticeable. It is a scarring form of alopecia which means that the hair follicles are destroyed and therefore new hair will not grow. Preventative action is best (i.e avoid tight braiding/hair styles that pull hair tight). Hair transplants are a possible solution for some cases.

Razor bumps (Pseudofolliculitis capitis)

Signs: Bumps that appear where hair was shaved. These bumps can appear as pimples or become fluid filled if infected. Permanent scarring is possible.
Reasons: The curve of curly natural hair makes it able to grow into the skin instead of out of the follicle especially if it was shaved to a very short length.
Treatment: If you wish to cut your hair very short, avoid going for a clean shave. Try to keep at least a quarter of an inch or so of visible hair to minimise in growth.

Ladies, have you dealt with any of these conditions? How did you treat them?

References
Dermatol Clin, pp 387-95, 1988.
Arch Dermatol, pp 328-329, 1977
Dermatol Ther, pp164-76, 2004

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36 thoughts on “3 Hair Loss Conditions Caused by Natural Hair Practices

  1. Should have been titled “3 Hair Loss Conditions Caused by BAD Hair Practices” since anyone not just naturals have these issues.

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    • Agreed…

      The only one I’ve ever had an issue with was weak hair at the temples and yes, they were caused by too-tight braids or puffs.

      I’ve gotten jumped on by people (online and IRL) because I suggested that the only true cure for thinning temples was to leave the hair ALONE. My thing has always been it’s better to have nappy edges than NO edges. Jc, I think you may have addressed this before but is there any scientific proof that products (such as castor oil) will grow back temple hair? Because I honestly don’t think it matters what you put on it…leaving it alone is how the hair grows back.

      My opinion…I’m not a scientist…but I also still have my edges…

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      • I totally agree with you. I think all the methods (applying castor oil, rosemary oil and other methods for hair re-growth) all boils down to taking impeccable care of your hair and not doing the things that damage it. I don’t think these methods speed hair growth. I’ve seen about as much growth in 6 months of impeccable hair care (that’s the word I use for oiling, protective styling, etc) as I did in the past when I just left it alone.

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      • Yes LBell I agree with you. Castor oil is not well researched. A lot of statements floating around about it are more about traditional practice rather than science.

        Aggressive massaging can be quite bad for hair. I do think that often when people lose hair at temples, they would like to see regrowth back in weeks. In truth the hair that was pulled out was in a cycle and therefore it could take as much as 4 years to get a new follicle. A little patience and leaving the hair alone is best.

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        • …you know, I never thought about that before but you are totally right. One winter in high school, I was outside playing with my dog and she knocked me over and started pulling on my hat. She ended up ripping out some hairs in the crown of my head (in retrospect it was really funny, but at the time, I was pretty mad, lol). She ended up created a small bald spot, which wasn’t that big of a deal at the time because my hair was almost always in a ponytail and it was fairly long. It took about a year before that area started to grow hair back again.

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      • It’s true too many women are obssessed with making their hair do things it doesn’t want to do. Idc about my edges laying down cause my hair isn’t straight so why would I expect it to appear as such. If you want your edges to lay down so badly either cope with never having any of get a relaxer. Plus it hurts having hair pulled back so tight i don’t understand how girls do it. I think the loose messy look is cuter anyway.

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  2. Kinda off topic but what is the girl’s hair type in the pic below the title?My curl formation is just like that and I need help identifying my hair type..Thanks in advance!

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    • Its type “beautiful natural hair”. Since you have similar hair, then I can safely conclude that you also have type “beautiful natural hair”.

      At the end of the day, thats all that really matters.

      Cheers!

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      • Rosina – what a great answer! I am going to use that in future.

        Jas – Enjoy your hair, look for products that work, treat it gently and whatever type it is, it will be beautiful.

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    • I would classify her as classifying goes as a 3c/4a ish. Also be careful of asking that question on natural sites. Be sure you’re in a “safe” environment. Note that some people relate the hairtyping to good hair/bad hair argument. I do not, but be aware that it can start some mess in the forums. I am not saying that has happened here, just saying i think this is what you had in mind when you asked the question.

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    • I think its a mix of 3c, 4a. I don’t know why people bother to answer your question w/ vagueness. I know for me it would be easier if I knew other naturals who had similar hair b/c then I’d follow their blogs, vlogs, etc. Good luck!

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  3. what about stress related hair loss. I started having random bald spots caused by seborrheic dermatitis. This went on for 10 years! Then it became trichotillmania (compulsive hair pulling)

    I had to eliminate sugar, carbs and anything that dries the skin from my diet.

    Then, I had to stop stressing. Which also meant eliminating people, situations, and emotional roller coasters from my life. My hair has not completely grown back but it is not nearly as bad.

    These issues cause a lot shame and frustration as many dermatologists (black and white) just give you a topical cream and say keep it moving.

    Black women’s hair is a major source of identity and sometimes a source of stress.

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  4. For years, I have tried so many natural and organic products only to be disappointed in limited selection and overall effectiveness. I’ve heard good things about other brands but since I’ve tried face naturals products, I don’t have any desire to try another brand. Their products are so amazing and they offer target skin solutions based on your skin type. face naturals is the best all natural organic skin care line I’ve ever tried!

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  5. I’ve been dealing with thinning edges for a while now, and I’m glad this article told me that it could take 2 or more years to regrow that area. I really didn’t know that. I’d get disappointed and just give up when treatments like Ors temple balm didn’t help my situation after 8 weeks like it promised, but now I realize that I should continue to pamper my edges well past that date because I could be out of my anagen phase. That should’ve been a no-brainer for me, but it didn’t really click with me until I read this post. I am way too rough on my edges. I often sacrifice them and put them at the mercy of a cute style even when I know it could lead to damage smh :( I am truly going to do better.

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    • For me it took time. When i took my braids out approx 3.5 years ago i did so because i noticed how thin my edges were. Today, i have noticed that they have filled back in and while not 100% of what they were, it is a marked difference. I mean my hairline had moved back at least a half inch due to the thinning at the temples. It is now almost back to normal. I did what i think someone else suggested, i left it alone and that worked.

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  6. I had severe traction alopecia. Two years ago I had a hair transplant, and went back to natural hair. Those were the two best decisions I have made for my hair.

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  7. I’ve actually had that first problem around the temples recently, this was really useful. I have my hair in kinky twists and the hairdresser did them tighter than I like. It’s been a few weeks so they’re sort of grown out and it’s not tight anymore, but I’ll be more vocal when I’m getting my hair done next time!

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  8. Hi, i’ve had weak edges since i was little due to tight ponytails. Since then i’ve colored my hair, had many perms and cut my hair plenty of times. I’ve been natural for about 19 months now and i still can’t get my edges to grow, and i’ve used different remedies and treatments but nothing seems to work. Please help!!!

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  9. Ladies, we do have to be careful with our edges and nape area. I sometimes even twist and braid my own edges a little tight. Another area that I have to watch are the scarves/hats being to tight and rubbing against my hairline. And a while back, I was dying my hairline to much to cover the gray. I finally told my husband “forget about me dying my hair because I’d rather have gray edges than no edges” and gave him the “And what” look. Stick up for yourselves and forget about trying to remain “cute” and look at future hair goals. Keeping my hair full all over my head is a constant goal!

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  10. Hello, I got thinning edges from wearing a too tight had and also twists that were rolled up on those long rollers. Since being natural is new to me, I thought my hair would be stronger. It is not! We have to stop using harsh shampoos and cones! We need to use conditioners, no cones and parabens. As I Am is a great hair line. They offer all 10 of thier products to sample for $3.49 cost of shipping and handling. Carol’s Daugher is another good line and Oyin. Still be careful of shampoo and use no poo shampoos.

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  11. I used to wear my hair in cornrows with extensions. Later on I wore braids, and one thing that I had to start doing was DEMANDING that my braider stop braiding so tight!!! I know she felt that the style would last and that it would look nicer but I’d come home with a headache and itchy scalp. I’d have to stand in the shower for 20 minutes just to help loosen the cornrows. My hairline at my forehead receeded over the years and I’ve been battling and working on growing my hair back fuller and thicker. I’m much older now and I wear my hair in two strand twists. I also take medications that cause my hair to thin. But I’m using Dr. Miacles and it really does seem to be working a miracle on my hair. My hair all around is getting fuller and my hair line actually seems like the hair is coming back (hope this is not just my imagination – but I get out my little magnifiying mirror and it does seem like the hair is growing back). Also, the stylist I have now is very gentle with my hair. Finally, my hair hates blow dryers so I try to use them as little as possible.

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  12. Even though this site doesn’t do a lot of articles on locs, I’d like to add that locs are natural and that locs that are palm-rolled dry too often and pulled into tight ponytails or left to grow too long and heavy can cause traction alopecia.

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  13. Okay…does the woman in the picture have thin edges? I guess I am so used to seeing hairlines like that, I don’t even know what healthy edges look like. I need someone to show me a pic of healthy edges. I’ve always had a wonky hairline–it looks thin one day, but normal another! Someone please direct me to a pic!

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  14. Hi Robin – I am glad to hear that you had a good experience with a hair transplant. Could you please provide the name of the place where you received a hair transplant. I am interested in doing the same and I live in the Chicago area and cannot seem to find someone that specializes in transplanting hair for African-American women. Many of us are led to believe that alopecia is caused by pulling the hair too tight. But I also have severe alopecia which I learned is hereditary. I welcome any recommendations.

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  15. i just would like to state m story cause i was inspired. My african mother had no idea how to take care of my hair so she permed it. hen she thought it was cheaper to send it to the african braid salons to get my hair very tighty braided( to the point where i would have white bumps around my temples for days when i got braids) and keep it in for months at a time. byt the time i was 17 i had thinned out edges and used weave to cover the thin edges. i never educated myself on why my hairline was thin and what i was doing so i just kept the tight braids and weaves going for a while. by 22 yo i could never show myhair in public my hairline started inches back. and i discovered lacefront wigs i made a conscious decision that my hair was damaged and it can never grow as long and healthy as any wig or weave. so i stopped caring about my hair. i would shave my hair and put the “mighty tite” glue under the wigs all over my head so it could feel real to the touch. and when i was ready to take the wig off every night i would just rip it off my bald head-constantly waxing my hairline everynight (i didnt care about my hair or hairline cause it was already a lost cause). at 24 i decided to educate myself and see it i can grow out natural.I stopped tight braids and i wore my hair in cornroll under wigs for a few years. my hair was growing fast and nice but around the age of 26(2 years ago) i notice my edges wasnt growing along with the rest of my hair. so this february i got a hair restoration. its a very expensive surgery but it was completely worth it. my hairline is starting to fill in and i havent had a thick hairline for over a decade and by the end of this summer i will have a thick hair line and in a year i will have a full head of hair. it is possible to fix the damage but its an expensive and long task to do so. if i knew what i knew as a little girl i would have taken preventative measures.

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    • Congratulations on your hair restoration progress! Thank you for your honesty and sharing your experience. I think that thinning hair is a bigger issue in the Black community than people think – not just among adult Black women but Black children, too. A Youtube vlogger got a little upset with me because I tactfully posted a comment about all of the photos of corn-rowed children she has on her channel. The cornrow styles are beautiful, creative, and elaborate but some of them were done on children who seemed to be already developing traction alopecia at the crown, edges, or sides and they looked tight. If I was a beautician, I would refuse to cornrow a Black child’s hair that was already thinning. I wouldn’t agree to do it just for the money. Other beauticians or even those of us who do hair from our homes, would do well to do the same. After traction alopecia, it’s best if the hair is worn loosely. If it’s put up or away from the face, it’s best if it’s in a messy or loose chignon or bun – not this whole every-thread-of- hair-in-place business.

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  16. ive had hair miss along both sides of tempiles for almost 5 yrs now and advice oyes i have elbow length hair and put in bun not tight because i work in medical feild any suggustions? im the one in red on the left nicole

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  17. I am so happy to share my own experience with my fiance and want to tell everyone about it. I also had the same Hair Loss and thinning Hair problems. I tried so many products as everyone does and just by luck found that product named ‘Minoxidil’ at http://www.dualgen15.com. Just after a week using it I found the surprising results. Then I suggest my finance too to use it as precaution, and as u know precautions are better than cure. The Hair loss problem is solved but still we use it so it may not happen again. I suggest to get more information from http://www.dualgen15.com for better understanding your problems. As I got a great experience from them.

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