Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered a “strong association” between common African-American hairstyles and the development of gradual loss of hair loss.

With an estimated one-third of African American women suffering from traction alopecia — the most common form of hair loss among that group — researchers are convinced that the condition is triggered by prolonged tension on the hair root. Hairstyles aligned with traction alopecia include tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns.

“Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people,” Crystal Aguh, assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “But ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.”

Aguh added that traction alopecia is entirely preventable, and early intervention can stop or reverse it.

“We have to do better as care providers to offer our patients proper guidance to keep them healthy from head to toe,” Aguh said.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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