Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

What African-American Women Need to Know to Keep Their Hair Healthy

WebMD Health News

African-American Women Have Specific Hair Issues

March 21, 2012 (San Diego) -- If you are a woman of color, you may already know: Your hair can be an issue.

No, it's not your imagination or vanity working overtime, says Amy McMichael, MD, professor and interim chair of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

"There is some sort of innate fragility," McMichael says, referring to the hair of African-American women.

That fragility can result in breakage and hair loss, what doctors call alopecia, she says. She presented an update on hair loss and other issues in people of color at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology held here.

There is much you can do, however, to boost your hair health, she says. Here, she shares her healthy hair tips with WebMD.

1. Hair Loss Is Common in African-American Women

Hair loss is a common reason that women of color see a dermatologist, says McMichael.

She and her colleagues discovered that when they looked at a national database, the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, to find the top reasons for visits to dermatologists by African-Americans.

"Alopecia was right up there in the top 10," she says. It was reason No. 7 to see a dermatologist.

2. Kinds of Hair Loss That Affect African-American Women

By looking at where the hair loss occurs, doctors can sometimes decide how it occurs and what kind of hair loss it is.

For instance, braiding too tightly can lead to alopecia, McMichael says. "It is usually a clinical diagnosis made by physical exam," she says. Hair loss usually occurs on the front, temples, and back of the scalp.

Your doctor may take a biopsy to help get the diagnosis correct.

Another type of hair loss is called CCCA -- short for central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. It can cause scarring on the front and crown of the scalp, McMichael says. It can be inflamed and the scars can be severe, she says.

The exact cause of CCCA is not known, but some experts believe it may be linked with long-term use of chemical hair treatments, such as chemical hair straighteners.

Brush Up on Beauty

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices