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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. Victoria Barbosa, we discuss what central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is and why it is an important health issue.

MD Newsline:

Can you explain what central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is and why it is an important health issue?

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Dr. Victoria Barbosa:

“Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is a form of scarring alopecia. It is an inflammatory scalp disorder where chronic inflammation of lymphocytes in the scalp ultimately causes damage and destruction of the hair follicles leading to complete fibrosis in the place of follicles. With this absence of follicles, the patient can no longer grow hair.

CCCA is seen almost exclusively in Black women around the globe and, unfortunately, often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years, leaving permanent, significant hair loss.

CCCA is an important health issue for a number of reasons. First, many patients experience discomfort with the condition, usually itching but sometimes burning or tingling. Second, when a patient has lost significant amounts of hair so that it’s noticeable to anyone around them, and they want to camouflage their hair loss, there can be a tremendous psychological effect on the patient.

While sometimes camouflaging hairstyles like wigs or weaves can just be worn for fun, when people feel like they have to wear them to conceal an underlying scalp disease, it’s no longer fun. And so, we really have to take care of these patients, both from the dermatologic perspective of managing their hair loss and the psychological perspective of helping them deal with the emotional aspects of the disease.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.