If thoughts of hair restoration occupy your day, it’s time to take action. At Vibrant Dermatology in Dedham, MA – your nearby skin of color dermatologist – we offer several treatment options to help patients grow thicker, healthier tresses. No surgery is necessary, and although these treatments work quickly, they do not require downtime. This means that as the therapies get to the action, you can get on with life.
Why Is My African American Hair Falling Out?
A fine line exists between normal and abnormal hair loss. On average, you can expect to lose between 50 and 100 strands daily as your body sheds old tresses. When you shower, it’s completely normal to lose around 250 strands. But don’t stop washing your hair in an effort to save it – the strands will fall out anyway.
You know you’re losing an abnormal amount of locks when you see them lying on your pillow or clogging your comb or brush. Extensive hair loss is also visible in the mirror and can, as we know, produce feelings of panic. So, what is the culprit behind this condition? Genetics can play a role, but many hair care practices and hairstyles also substantially contribute. People with skin of color are particularly prone to three types of alopecia:
- Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA)
- Traction alopecia
CCCA is characterized by hair loss in the crown of your scalp and most frequently occurs in African American women between the ages of 30 and 55 years years old. While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, we do believe it’s multifaceted – meaning a variety of factors may be responsible. Suggested causes of CCCA include genetics, bacterial and fungal infections, and autoimmune disease. It’s also been linked to type 2 diabetes.
For decades, hair practices like weaves and extensions have been implicated in CCCA, but studies have never revealed a strong connection. What we do know is that hair breakage may be an early sign of CCCA before progressing into hair loss mid-scalp and extending outward in a circular manner. In many cases, the scalp looks shiny and may be accompanied by symptoms like itching, burning, and tenderness.
A Tricky Situation
CCCA can be difficult to recognize because hair loss often starts gradually. If left untreated, it can lead to scarring and permanent damage of hair follicles. This is just one reason why talking about hair loss is so important – it can lead to discussions of hair restoration before a lasting problem develops.
It’s also important to understand you’re in good company. Roughly one-third of all Black women experience hair loss throughout their lifetimes. Knowing this hopefully encourages you to seek treatment sooner rather than later.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “it isn’t right if it isn’t tight” in reference to your hairstyle, but this mantra comes with a key problem: it can encourage you to style yourself bald. Traction alopecia is the result of repeated hot combs, chemical relaxers, cornrows, weaves, and braids used in your hair care.
Nothing is wrong with these techniques when used from time to time; the problem arises when hair follicles get pulled long-term. They then suffer mechanical damage that leads to hair loss. Although common among people with skin of color, all ages and ethnic groups can experience traction alopecia, including:
- Professionals required to wear their hair pulled back
What Exactly Happens?
Wearing the same hairstyle for extended periods of time, especially those that pull on the hair like tight pony-tails and weaves, can loosen hair from the follicle. Additional symptoms may include tenderness, redness, and bumps. The most obvious sign of traction alopecia is gradual thinning along the hairline, but it can happen anywhere the hair is constantly pulled.
You can tell you’re at risk for this condition if you feel pain during any styling process and/or for days and weeks after your style is in place. The truth is your scalp should never hurt. If it does, you’re putting tresses at risk for detachment from your scalp.
Breakage has been described as the bane of African American hair; it’s the reason that many believe African hair does not grow and seems almost impossible to correct. But let’s be clear: African hair grows at the same rate as any other hair.
It is, however, susceptible to dryness that can cause the rate of breakage to exceed the rate of growth. This serves as an obstacle between patients and long hair. Breakage refers to damage in the hair strand itself rather than the follicle. The shaft grows weak from factors like frequent manipulation and damaging tools and then breaks off.
Key Ways to Avoid This
What can be done to stop this? Let’s start with hair moisturization, which poses a direct problem for African hair; sebum (oils your scalp naturally produces) struggles to travel through thick, curly hair to reach each strand’s end. You therefore need to use a leave-in conditioning oil or cream that strengthens the shaft and reduces breakage.
Likewise, choosing low manipulation or protective styles that tuck the ends away will help your hair grow. Some styles to choose from include buns or roll and tuck looks. Also avoid hot combs, flat irons, and chemicals that can extend the damage your hair sustains and promote breaking.
Treatments for Hair Restoration
KeraFactor is a serum with a proprietary blend of growth factors and proteins to stimulate hair growth. If you’re thinking this is just another serum like any you can purchase over-the-counter, we can assure you this treatment is different. Part of that difference comes from the presence of nanoliposomes, which assist other ingredients to influence your body’s natural biology.
We don’t simply apply KeraFactor to your scalp in the hopes it goes to work. We first use laser therapy designed to create minuscule micro-channels in your skin. Thanks to targeted application with the laser, the surrounding tissues do not sustain damage or discomfort. Then, after the micro-channels are created, we gently massage the growth serum into your scalp.
A Comfortable Treatment
The massage is relaxing, yes, but it also encourages the serum to enter your skin through the micro-channels we earlier created. This restores functionality in your hair follicles so that, in the coming weeks, you see a visible improvement to the density and quality of your hair.
This treatment is efficient – completed in under 30 minutes – and pain-free; you’ll experience no burning, pinching, or tugging. In addition, you can expect to see positive hair growth in about six weeks. Dramatic improvements to growth are often seen after six treatments, each delivered two weeks apart. And continual improvements have been noted for up to 18 months, at which point you can schedule a maintenance treatment.
What Are Growth Factors?
These components of KeraFactor deserve explaining because they’re so important to the overall treatment. Growth factors include proteins and polypeptides that stimulate the growth of specific tissues, including blood vessels and hair follicles. They occur naturally in small concentrations within the body and help replace old cells with new ones.
Research tells us that most patients with hair thinning lack sufficient growth factors, which KeraFactor replaces. And the nanoliposomes included in this formula ensure your skin absorbs the nutrients as intended. Keep in mind your skin is designed to protect the body’s interior from injury and toxins; the nanoliposomes help penetrate this barrier, and adding laser treatment allows for even deeper product penetration.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are among the most innovative solutions for hair restoration. Earlier, we mentioned three key causes an African American dermatologist may identify as hair loss culprits. But this condition can in fact be the result of many factors, including:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Hormonal changes
PRP can address any of these causes by restoring nutrients to your scalp. Specifically, it stimulates inactive or newly implanted hair follicles to move from inactive to an active growth phase.
Information About PRP
Now is a good time to step back and discuss your blood, which contains small cells known as platelets. These, in turn, are comprised of specific growth factors that promote tissue healing and regeneration. For hair loss, these same proteins can slow hair loss and/or encourage hair to grow.
To achieve these platelets, we draw a small sample of blood from your arm just as your medical doctor would do. That blood is then placed into a centrifuge to separate the PRP from white and blood cells. Treatment is surprisingly easy; we simply inject the PRP into designated spots on your scalp. No additional medication or sedation is necessary, and easing your normal hair routine for a day or two can help your scalp heal.
A Promising Treatment
Sports medicine widely uses PRP to treat a range of injuries, from torn tendons to pulled muscles. The effect is similar when using it to treat hair loss; the platelets rejuvenate aged or damaged tissues to stimulate new growth. Individual results vary, as with any treatment, but most African American patients see significant improvements.
What You Can Do to Help
Any hair restoration method you choose can be positively influenced by your own actions. As the office of a Black dermatologist, we understand the unique nature of African American hair likewise recommend you ditch rough styling tools. Fine toothed combs and bristle brushes pull on hair in an unhealthy manner. Instead, detangle tresses with your fingers; simply coat them with oil and work through your hair one section at a time.
Once it’s detangled, you can twist or braid hair to safeguard strands. Also go for protective styles, rather than tight, as mentioned earlier. And water – long considered kryptonite for African American hair – should instead be viewed as beneficial. It both cleanses and hydrates, so you should plan on washing and conditioning every seven to 10 days.
Your Partners in Hair Care
Skin of color patients need hair care that protects and moisturizes their locks. Hair restoration treatments must be similarly multi-faceted, and both KeraFactor and PRP meet this demand. When paired with simple at-home steps, these treatments can help deliver the tresses you want: longer, thicker, and fuller. Schedule your consultation today by calling Vibrant Dermatology in Dedham, MA.