Clinical recognition and management of alopecia in women of color

Int J Womens Dermatol. 2019 Aug 22;5(5):314-319. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.08.005. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Certain types of alopecia, such as traction alopecia, discoid lupus erythematosus, and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, occur more commonly in African-American individuals than in those of other ethnicities. Both intrinsic hair qualities and hair care practices play a role. Lower baseline tensile strength, hair density, and growth rates, as well as the use of high-tension hairstyles and chemical relaxers may contribute to alopecia in this group. Alopecia can also occur as a result of discoid lupus erythematosus, which involves chronic lymphocytic infiltration and eventual scarring of the hair follicle. Lichen planopilaris is a less common cause of scarring alopecia that can appear clinically similar to other forms of cicatricial alopecia. Lastly, although not classically associated with hair loss, recent evidence indicates that seborrheic dermatitis may play a role in shedding and alopecia. Recognizing and differentiating these alopecic subtypes clinically and histopathologically is important for prompt diagnosis and treatment. This article is based on a chapter in Ethnic Skin and Hair, and intended as a supplemental article to "Current and Emerging Treatment Strategies for Hair Loss in Women of Color."

Keywords: Alopecia; Discoid lupus erythematosus; Lichen planopilaris; Seborrheic dermatitis; Traction alopecia.

Publication types

  • Review