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Types of Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss on the body. Okay most of us know what alopecia is but did you know there are 7 types of hair loss? We’ll talk about the type of alopecia that affects black women the most and what could possibly cause it. 

1. Alopecia Areata 

This form of alopecia is fairly common, it affects 147 million people worldwide. It was believed that alopecia areata affected everyone equally but most recent studies have shown that black and hispanic women have a higher chance of developing it in their lifetime. 

It is an autoimmune disease, white blood cells attack the hair follicle which causes them to shrink and dramatically reduce growth. 


Circular patches of hair that fall out, this can occur wherever hair grows. People can experience itching or burning before the hair is lost. It is normally sudden and happens within a few days or up to a few weeks. 


It’s not known exactly what triggers alopecia areata but studies have shown that 1 in 5 people who experience it has a family member that also suffers from it. 

It’s also been shown that people. who struggle with alopecia areata also struggle with other autoimmune diseases or have a family history of other autoimmune diseases. 

Luckily with this type of alopecia hair can be regrown fully as long as the follicles aren’t destroyed. In some cases where there’s hair loss the hair can grow back white.

2. Traction Alopecia 

Have yall ever gotten some braids that were too tight and saw little white bumps? Those are your follicles screaming for help (a.k.a. inflammation) this can lead to traction alopecia. This is a gradual form of hair loss seen when someone constantly wears tight styles that pull and stress the hair. The stress to the perimeter of the head, mostly the front hairline, can cause inflammation and lead to scarring and eventually lead to permanent hair loss.  :(

Most of us know what this is because either we or someone we know has experienced it. Well that’s because ⅓ of black women experience it! 


Thinning of the parts of your hair that receive the most tension. This can affect any area of your head but for most it’s seen on the hairline or crown. Some signs to look out for are folliculitis (small white bumps), lots of short broken hairs or overall thinning. 


Our hair is very fragile, doing high tension styles constantly can cause our hair to weaken and overtime stop growing back if the proper care doesn’t happen. 

3. Telogen Effluvium

First things first it’s not permanent. This type of alopecia happens after a significant physical stressor. With this type of alopecia 80% of hair follicles in the growth phase switch to the resting phase. Normally only 6-8% of hairs are in the resting phase at any given time. The resting phase is the final phase of the hair growth process, this is also where shedding occurs. 

I’m not gonna lie, this one kinda had me shook but the hair will regrow after some time. 


At first it presents as thinning on top of the scalp, this could be along your part line or hairline. This can be limited to one area or be seen all over the scalp. In severe cases the hair loss can happen at any area of the body that grows hair. 


some stressors that could cause this include; surgery, high fever, car accidents, physical trauma, exposure to toxins and nutrient deficiency. 


some stressors that could cause this include; surgery, high fever, car accidents, physical trauma, exposure to toxins and nutrient deficiency. 

4. Androgenetic Alopecia 

This is a super common form of hair loss also known as male or Female Pattern Hair Loss. This can be treated to prevent further hair loss but there’s little chance of the hair growing back. 


In men hair is lost in an “M” pattern as the hairline recedes, and the crown starts to thin. This can progress to partial or complete baldness. 

In women hair loss begins at the top of the head but doesn’t affect the hairline. The hair will become thinner all over but total baldness isn’t likely. 


Medical conditions that specifically affect hormones like prostate cancer, diabetes, hypertension and PCOS can also trigger androgenic alopecia. 

5&6. Alopecia Totalis/ Universalis

Alopecia Totalis is total hair loss on the scalp and Alopecia Universalis is a disorder that causes hair loss on the entire body, not just the scalp. This happens when one or more genes don’t work correctly. This gene is recessive and when 2 carriers are have children the chance of passing it down is 25%


Alopecia totalis/ universalis can start off as alopecia areata (a couple small patches) then total hair loss can be sudden. There are usually no other symptoms 


There aren’t any direct causes for alopecia totalis/ universalis most professionals believe it to be an autoimmune disorder similar to alopecia areata but more advanced. 

7. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)

To be honest, CCCA is something that most black women (and some black men) suffer from. It starts at the crown/ center of the head and spreads out in a spiral pattern, and for most it spreads rapidly. Studies have recognized that people who have constantly gotten chemical services (even from a young age) have higher chances of developing CCCA. 


Loss of hair beginning at the crown and spreading outward in a spiral shape. It could also mimic the shape of a Christmas tree. Some symptoms can also include pain, itching, burning, and tenderness.


There isn’t an exact cause for CCCA but studies have shown stress, hormones, genetics, infections (bacterial or fungal) and diseases (like fibrosis or autoimmune diseases). It's believed that other factors can lead to CCCA like using chemicals, high heat or installing tight styles that can cause breakage. 

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1 Comment

I am so happy to see this topic brought up with great information about all types. It is about time that professionals and customers understand the differences. When I explain my type of hair loss I usually get the blank stare like, "Yeah right." I am not sure why people would think I would lie but maybe it is because most do not understand tight braids is not the only reason for hair loss. I am just happy that my old stylist told me to see a dermatologist before it got worse. That dermatologist was the one that suggested I go natural. Best recommendation ever!

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