Central hair loss in African American women: incidence and potential risk factors

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Feb;64(2):245-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.11.693. Epub 2010 Nov 13.


Background: Although central scalp hair loss is a common problem in African American women, data on etiology or incidence are limited.

Objective: We sought to determine the frequency of various patterns and degree of central scalp hair loss in African American women and to correlate this with information on hair care practices, family history of hair loss, and medical history.

Methods: Five hundred twenty-nine subjects at six different workshops held at four different sites in the central and/or southeast United States participated in this study. The subjects' patterns and degree of central scalp hair loss were independently assessed by both subject and investigator using a standardized photographic scale. Subjects also completed a detailed questionnaire and had standardized photographs taken. Statistical analysis was performed evaluating answers to the questionnaire relative to pattern of central hair loss.

Results: Extensive central scalp hair loss was seen in 5.6% of subjects. There was no obvious association of extensive hair loss with relaxer or hot comb use, history of seborrheic dermatitis or reaction to a hair care product, bacterial infection, or male pattern hair loss in fathers of subjects; however, there was an association with a history of tinea capitis.

Limitations: There was no scalp biopsy correlation with clinical pattern of hair loss and further information on specifics of hair care practices is needed.

Conclusions: This central scalp photographic scale and questionnaire provide a valid template by which to further explore potential etiologic factors and relationships to central scalp hair loss in African American women.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alopecia / classification
  • Alopecia / epidemiology
  • Alopecia / etiology*
  • Alopecia / genetics
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Hair Preparations / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Photography / standards
  • Southeastern United States


  • Hair Preparations