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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. Valerie Harvey, we discuss the types of alopecia that are prevalent in African Americans: central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) and traction alopecia.

MD Newsline:

What types of alopecia have a high prevalence in African Americans?

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Dr. Valerie Harvey:

“There are two types of alopecia that are more prevalent in women of color, including African Americans. The first type, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), is hair loss that occurs along the top of the scalp and spreads outward. It develops slowly over time and is a scarring form of hair loss, meaning that, for some people, the hair loss can be permanent. For these reasons, diagnosing CCCA early is important to prevent disease progression.

Lastly, we’re not entirely sure why CCCA develops. More research is needed to better understand and treat the disease.

The second type of alopecia that is prevalent in African Americans is traction alopecia: hair loss that occurs along the hairline or edges. It occurs as a result of chronic wear and tear from pulling and styling the hair in ways that damage the hair and can result in permanent hair loss. Unfortunately, these hairstyles have long been considered ‘more acceptable’ and continue to put African American girls and women at risk of developing traction alopecia.

Finally, just like with CCCA, it’s vital that traction alopecia is diagnosed early rather than at a late stage to prevent permanent hair loss.”


Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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