Researchers say women who experience hair loss may experience conditions like acne, breast cancer, and diabetes.
Women with hair loss and hair loss conditions may experience comorbidities such as acne, breast cancer, and diabetes, according to a press release1 from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting.
Female pattern hair loss, which is hereditary in nature, impacts millions of women. Women with this form of hair loss commonly experience acne, high blood pressure, and menopause as comorbidities, said Valerie Callender, MD, FAAD, and professor of dermatology at Howard University School of Medicine in the press release. This is due to an increase in hormones.
In women with darker skin tones, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is the most common form of hair loss, affecting almost 15% of Black women.
In Black women with CCCA, conditions like breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are common comorbidities. These can either be caused in correlation with CCCA or as a part of another underlying condition. Callendar recommends women with CCCA and these conditions consult a board-certified dermatologist to determine potential correlation, or lack of.
Additionally, traction alopecia may also be common in women with darker skin tones. Callendar said this can be due to hair styling that pulls the hair tightly.
“Getting your hair done shouldn’t hurt, so if they have pain, it’s an indicator that they could be developing traction alopecia,” she said.
In female pattern hair loss, treatments such as minoxidil are commonly suggested.
Minoxidil can be found in drugstore products or prescribed, though Callender recommends consulting with either a dermatologist or physician prior to relying on drugstore products to determine a proper treatment path on a case-by-case basis. Higher dosages are not found in drugstores and can only be prescribed. This drug is known to stimulate hair growth while reducing hair loss.
In cases of CCCA, dermatologists may commonly prescribe antibiotics, corticosteroid injections, or topical steroids. These treatments prevent scarring from worsening while providing pain, itch, and tenderness relief.
“When treatments are not effective to prevent hair loss, a permanent solution is to consider a hair transplant, which creates natural-looking results,” Callender said. “Hair transplants are most effective in patients with traction alopecia and female pattern hair loss. While patients with CCCA aren’t always ideal candidates for a hair transplant due to scarring, it is possible for them to have success.”
Callender said early detection is key to preventing hair follicle destruction and ultimately, scarring. In follicles that have been completely scarred, some hair loss may be untreatable.
“By recognizing the signs of hair loss and seeing your dermatologist as soon as possible, you may be able to limit the progression, hold on to the hair you have, and discover and other underlying medical conditions you may have,” she said.