One question I hear from almost every woman I meet with is , “Does coloring or styling my hair cause or worsen my hair loss?” The answer to that question is “sometimes, but certainly not all the time.”
There is no evidence that coloring our hair causes hair loss. Having said that, I have seen women who have processed their hair excessively over a short period of time and have experienced severe shedding or damage to their hair. This is rarely permanent, and usually with careful styling and fewer chemicals the hair can recover. I have seen very severe loss from bleaching and stripping of color, but invariably there is recovery. If the scalp is severely burned from chemicals, resulting in blistering, there can be permanent scarring, but that is extremely rare.
If you are using chemicals which cause a burning sensation of the scalp, it is probably a good idea to stop using that particular product.
I would also avoid perming hair, because those chemicals are very strong. Chemical straighteners, or relaxers are particularly damaging to hair and the scalp. It is believed that these particular chemicals may be responsible for a higher likelihood of Scarring Alopecia in African American women, which can lead to permanent loss. This is why I encourage women to go to a professional salon, and ask for very gentle products and let the stylist know about your hair concerns.
In terms of styling hair, chronic pulling of the hair into tight braids, ponytails, corn rows, or dreadlocks can cause loss of hair due to stress on the hair follicles. Over time the damage can be permanent. This is known as Traction Alopecia. We recommend not keeping the hair in that type of style for very long. The hair follicles need to rest.
In general, I recommend trying to be as gentle as possible to your hair and scalp, especially if you are experiencing thinning. Washing your hair daily is usually not necessary, but doesn’t cause hair loss. It does dry out the hair, which causes breakage, but not thinning or loss. This is also true of hair dryers and hot combs. Condition your hair with every wash to keep in the moisture, don’t over process or over style your hair, and you will be rewarded with stronger healthier hair!
Posted by Dr. Mary Wendel