September 2020

15th September is World Afro Day – a day that celebrates afro hair globally and strives to educate all to create hair equality. You can find out more about the WAD mission on their website.

We’ve been chatting to Dr Sharon Wong, a Consultant Dermatologist who has a special interest in hair, about the different concerns that can sometimes occur with afro hair.

Dr Wong explains:

- Prolonged and repetitive pulling forces applied to hair when it is worn in tight hairstyles (eg braids, tight ponytails) can cause hair loss called traction alopecia. When caught early it can be reversed, but in late stages the hair follicles scar and hair loss becomes permanent.

- Chemical relaxers and tight hairstyles have been linked with a type of scarring hair loss on the crown called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), formally known as hot comb alopecia.

- The cuticle in curly hair is weakened where the hair twists and curls, meaning it is less able to protect the hair from environmental damage.

- African hair has a tendency to form single strand knots as well as becoming tangled with neighbouring hair fibres: the force applied to untangle the hair with combing can cause significant damage and hair breakage.

- The angle at which African hair exits the skin is almost parallel to the skin surface. When shaved too close to the skin and too frequently, this makes African hair more prone to ingrown hairs and inflammation of the hair follicles known as folliculitis.

If you are experiencing any of the above, then it’s best to speak with a consultant dermatologist who will be able to advise.

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