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African-Caribbean hair loss: what you need to know

Hair loss doesn’t discriminate – it affects all types of people no matter their age, sex or ethnicity. However, whilst many of the scalp and hair conditions that affect Caucasian and Asian men and women also affect African-Caribbean people, some conditions are naturally more prevalent in black men and women – and vice versa.

Although Caucasian men are four times more likely than men with Afro-textured hair to bald prematurely, male pattern hair loss – also known as androgenic alopecia – is still common in men of African-Caribbean descent and is by far the most common cause of hair loss in black men.

Women with Afro-textured hair, however, often have their hair loss misdiagnosed. Female pattern hair loss, for example, is frequently confused with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia – inflammatory scarring alopecia that starts in the mid-scalp or crown, spreading outwards.

Another type of hair loss that can be misdiagnosed in black women is traction alopecia, which is extremely common and results from long-term styling with tight hairstyles and braids (read more about traction alopecia here).

One key thing to understand is that although all hair is made up of the same proteins and layers, Afro-textured hair differs from other hair types in that it has a significant curl both above and below the skin surface.

The cross-sectional shape of Afro-textured hair is elliptical compared to the more oval shape of other hair types, and the density of scalp hair in African-Caribbean men and women is less than in other races.

When it comes to treatments, such as a hair transplant, this distinct difference in hair shape is something that must be considered too. Although the same hair transplant techniques are used, certain adjustments should be made to ensure a successful procedure.

As the hair curls below the surface of the skin, for both follicular unit excision (FUE) and strip follicular unit transplantation (FUT) procedures – the two main techniques used for hair transplant surgery – the incisions where the hair grafts will be placed need to be slightly larger to accommodate the larger diameter follicular unit grafts.

If you’re worried about your hair loss and want some expert advice, our team are happy to talk through your options.

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