Conditions Common in African-American Hair

Due to its unique shape and structure, African American hair tends to be tightly curled on both the head and beard which may make some hair and scalp conditions more likely. Certain styling techniques and preparations can also lead to a variety of problems.

Some common conditions include:

Hair Loss or Hair Breakage

Hair loss or broken hairs at the scalp margins called traction alopecia may be a problem for women. It can be caused by styles that pull hair tight (tight braids or ponytails), or by improper use of hair chemical agents such as relaxers or perms that can make hair more brittle and easily broken. Using a hot comb and oil may cause hair loss on the top of the head which can be permanent if it results in scarring. Dermatologists usually recommend changing your hair style and more careful use of hair care products to prevent further hair loss or breakage, and in most cases the hair will grow back.

Tinea Capitus (Ringworm)

Caused by a fungus rather than a “worm,” ringworm most commonly occurs in children. When it occurs on the scalp, it produces itching, scaling and redness and can cause hair breakage. Ringworm is highly contagious and while treatable, may require many weeks of oral medication to cure.

Ingrown Hairs of the Beard (Razor Bumps)

The curved roots of black hair can increase the likelihood that hairs of the beard in black men may grow back into the skin after shaving. Your dermatologist may recommend shaving techniques that can help prevent “razor bumps,” using chemical depilatories for temporary hair removal or electrolysis for permanent hair removal. Growing a beard is also a permanent solution to the problem of ingrown hair, but may not be an option for everyone.