More than eight million women in the UK suffer from various types of alopecia. A significant proportion of suffers are African or women of African descent. Hairstyles such as weaves and hair extensions are common among African women. Because African hair is generally dry and curly, most women use chemical relaxers to make and maintain it straight. Relaxing and straightening is necessary before using hair extension and performing other hairstyles. However, over time, studies in the US have found a link between using chemical relaxers and a form of alopecia or hair loss known as Central Centrifugal Cicatrical Alopecia (CCCA).

What is Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia

Sometimes referred to as hot-comb alopecia (because of the popularity of the hot comb through straightening iron) or traction alopecia, CCCA is common in women with Afro and Afro-Caribbean hair. CCCA is hair loss as a result of scalp scarring that goes down to the hair follicles. Scar-damaged follicles can no longer support hair growth, making the condition permanent.

Other than hot hair straightening treatments, it is believed the other causes of CCCA include the use of chemical-relaxing products containing sodium hydroxide. The use of harsh chemicals in a bid to “tame” Afro hair contributes to the number of cases of CCCA every year. Because hair loss is such a “taboo” subject, many women often continue using the same products causing them damage without realising it.

Treatment of CCCA

Since CCCA affects the hair follicles, once it’s advanced, limited treatment options are available. Hair transplant surgery may be an alternative. Early diagnosis and intervention, therefore, plays a big part in gaining control over CCCA. Since many of the commonly identified causes have to do with hairstyling practices, the following will help slow down CCCA:

  • Once diagnosed with CCCA, resort to natural hairstyles.
  • Limit the use of relaxers and ensure they are professionally applied.
  • Reduce heat treatment on hair (e.g., blow dryers, hot combs, flat irons etc.).
  • Avoid weaves, tight extensions, and braids.
  • Topical steroid applications and other medical treatments are available.

Specialist clinics such as Vinci Hair Clinic will help you find the right solution and confirm if you’re suffering from CCCA.


Relaxers, Hair Treatments, and Hair Loss