Afro-Caribbean Hair Disorders
DANDRUFF (pityriasis simplex capitis)
A scaly scalp often mistakenly considered to be a dry scalp.
The scalp like skin, undergoes cyclical renewal and dead cells are constantly being shed.
In cases of plaited hairstyles, extensions, weave-on’s, locks, twists, these epidermal cells accumulate on the scalp and with regular applications of oils and greases together with trapped perspiration, may initiate a scalp irritation eventually resulting in a dermatitis.
ALLERGIC CONTACT DERMATITIS
An itchy scalp condition caused by an allergic reaction to material in contact with the scalp. It can be attributed to a number of external factors, most commonly to improperly applied chemical relaxers, build ups of heavy cosmetic products, glues used in weaving techniques and generally unhealthy scalp conditions. Subsequent applications of pomades and oils on an itchy scalp will result in folliculitis manifested by pustules surrounding the hair follicles.
The inflammatory cells accumulate in response to bacteria that are able to proliferate within the partially occluded follicles. Secondary infected dermatitis causes the hair follicles to become damaged resulting in various degrees of hair loss and possibly the formation of disseminated keloidal scarring due to continual scratching.
Contact dermatitis needs early treatment in order to alleviate further possible sensitisation and to avoid irreversible damage to hair and scalp.
ACNE CHELOIDALIS NUCHAE
A skin condition affecting the nape of the neck which may persist for years. Initially small round itchy bumps appear within the hair-bearing area at the occipital region of the scalp. Pustules may form around the hair follicles. The bumps become small scars which eventually will enlarge to form keloids.
Causes: buried in-growing hairs often following dry razoring or close clipping.
– topical antibiotics for low grade infection
– oral antibiotics for secondary infection.
– topical steroids
– avoidance of trauma to the area, e.g. sustained friction from
– removal of in-growing hairs by tweezers.
A benign condition resulting from excess collagen formation, presenting as smooth hard growth of raised scar tissue. Once formed, they do not regress but tend to join together and although they generally grow slowly they may become large.
Cause: usually a response to injuries (major or minor) including insect bites.
Treatment: The treatment of choice appears to be a course of local injections of corticosteroids.
The patients are usually seen at monthly intervals and the course of the treatment may be quite lengthy, many times over a year.
radiotherapy, excision and cryosurgery are not recommended on Black skins as these methods could produce further scarring.
Cause: tight plaiting over a long period of time.
A localised area of the scalp, most often the crown and temporals, may feel very sore for months after the plaits have been removed.
A dermatophytosis (ringworm infection) presenting as boggy, oozing inflammatory lesions of the scalp caused by trichophytum tonsurans. Temporary hair loss is usual although scarring may occur in severe cases.
Treatment: prescription medicines e.g. (Grifulvin V® ) and oral steroids in severe cases. Your doctor may require blood tests.
HAIR MAINTENANCE (General Recommendations)
The hair texture may be coarse, but Afro-hair due to its particular configuration is fragile. Every twist and turn is a weakness, a breaking point.
Climatic conditions and environmental factors e.g. central heating, Ultra Violet rays, cold weather etc may compound the hair’s existing dry condition.
Afro-Caribbean hair can look shiny and retain reasonable length, whether in its virgin or chemically processed state if given the proper care and attention.
Black hair requires careful management on a daily basis to limit loss of tensile strength and maintain a natural balance of moisture.
CRITICAL GUIDELINES (to achieve best results):
Chemical processing must be carried out by a professional.
Do not relax your hair more than once every 10-12 weeks.
Do not press, blow dry, hot tong, or use heated rollers.( they strip the hair of its moisture thus causing irreversible damage to hair structure resulting in on-going hair breakage and disastrous cosmetic effects Wet set hair and dry under hooded hairdryer.
After shampooing do not rub the hair with the towel but gently blot the water off (sustained localised friction will cause hair breakage)
Do not massage the scalp (massaging the scalp has no beneficial effect on the hair and is not effective in promoting hair-growth. It may cause hair breakage)
Avoid the use of glues in weaving techniques.
Avoid braiding, plaiting and weave-on’s as they almost always cause traction alopecia especially during pillow contact – this may result in permanent baldness (often seen at the sides, front and neck regions of the scalp).
If used remove braids, plaits, weave-on’s after a few days do not redo it.
Do not apply oils on an itchy scalp.