Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Spending your time plating, gluing on wigs, braiding, relaxing and sewing on weaves can cause balding at a young age. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. The condition affects one-third of women of African descent, according to a study in the medical journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
A study three years ago of almost 6,000 women of African descent by Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center found that almost 48% of respondents had suffered hair loss on the crown or the top of the head - mostly caused by traction alopecia. The numbers could be more but just because women are ashamed of it, it is not talked about.
Susan Magai, a saloon owner in Tanzania says most of the women are using the wrong glue for their weaves or maybe they leave their braids or weaves in for extended periods of time.
"We advise our clients to leave weaves in for two weeks but some leave them in for three months and start to lose their hair."
UK-based doctor Jumoke Koso-Thomas, who is focused on black women's health, says that while hairstyling contributes to the majority of alopecia cases, for some there is also a genetic component.
For example, hair loss can be a symptom of problems with the thyroid gland or iron deficiency, she says.
"Childbirth, being on the pill and stress can also make women lose their hair," Dr Koso-Thomas adds, though such hair loss can be temporary. She advises that a healthy balanced diet containing vitamin C, vitamin B and selenium, found in fresh fruit and vegetables, helps to nourish the hair root and can help combat traction alopecia - and avoiding stress can prevent hair loss too.Crucially, she believes girls and younger women need to reassess the way they style their hair.