CCCA – A Common Cause of Hair Loss

Hair Loss is a Complex Subject. You May Have CCCA

Hair loss is a prevalent concern affecting millions of Americans, with over 35 million men and 21 million women grappling with some form of hair loss. At Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics, we understand the profound impact of losing hair on one’s well-being. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) stands out as a significant contributor to hair loss, particularly among individuals of African descent. This is one of the top reasons African Americans seek dermatologic evaluation for hair loss.

Understanding CA: Causes and Symptoms

CCCA typically initiates on the crown or central part of the scalp, progressing outward in a circular motion. Scarring ensues, leading to irreversible hair loss. The causes of CCCA are multifaceted, possibly linked to intense heat exposure, tight hairstyles, chemical relaxers, and genetic predisposition. Symptoms include burning, itching, tenderness, or tiny bumps on the scalp, often accompanied by gradual hair loss.

If you suspect CCA, schedule a visit for an accurate assessment and detailed treatment plan to treat this challenging condition. 

What Causes CCCA?

The exact cause of CCCA is unclear but is thought to be due to various factors. These include a history of intense heat, tight hairstyles, or the application of chemical relaxers and dyes. These hair grooming practices could have occurred as far back as during childhood or teenage years. CCCA can also be triggered by the naturally curly shape of African hair follicles. CCCA affects some individuals with no history of tight or harsh hairstyles. Therefore, we believe that there is also be a genetic component triggering the disease. It often affects multiple family members.

What Are The Symptoms Of CCCA?

People with CCCA often have burning, itching, burning, tenderness, or tiny bumps on the scalp. These usually occur on the top of the head and gradually spread outwards. In the early stage, there may be no visible hair loss, or the hairs may be fragile, short, and broken. Your dermatologist will need to examine your hair and scalp to confirm CCCA. A biopsy or scalp sample is necessary to confirm the condition. The sample is viewed under a microscope to confirm scarring and amount of inflammation.

How Is CCCA Diagnosed?

Diagnosing CCCA requires a thorough examination by our expert dermatologist. The process begins with a comprehensive medical history review, during which we will inquire about the onset of hair loss, any associated symptoms, and relevant lifestyle factors.

A physical examination of the scalp is then conducted to assess the pattern and extent of hair loss. In some cases, a scalp biopsy may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis definitively. This involves taking a small tissue sample from the affected area for microscopic analysis, allowing us to observe the presence of scarring and other characteristic features of CCCA. Blood tests may also be performed to rule out underlying medical conditions contributing to hair loss.

How Can I Treat CCCA Hair Loss?

As CCCA is a complex disorder, the treatment regimen fights hair loss from multiple approaches. If addressed early, you and your dermatologist can stem the tide and slow down the rate of hair damage. In the early stages, hair follicles may recover. Unfortunately, most patients visit a doctor when there is extensive damage. Therefore, all that could be done is treatments to prevent further hair loss. These treatments include:

Easing Inflammation

Inflammation is a common symptom and the first step is to reduce those signs as quickly as possible. Your dermatologist will prescribe medicated creams to apply directly to the scalp. Oral anti-inflammatory pills may also help, giving your scalp some much-needed relief.

Lifestyle Changes

It’s important to look at practices that may have damaged hair or caused CCCA. From there, make simple changes to the way you treat and groom your hair. Reducing or eliminating the use of heat and chemical hairstyles can help reduce damage and stop inflammation. This includes the excess use of relaxers and harsh hair products. Patients may also need to discontinue braids and other styles that pull on and damage hair follicles.

Injections May Help

Scalp injections with steroids treat the problem area. Steroid injections can reduce inflammation for a longer period, while slowing down hair loss.

Once the process is halted and there is no active inflammation, you may consider platelet rich plasma injections (PRP). PRP uses your body’s own growth factors to increase the blood supply in the area that could be damaged due to scarring and inflammation. In the three-step process, blood is first extracted from the arm. The blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate into layers. The platelet-rich plasma layer is then drawn and injected into the affected areas of the scalp. Initial research shows an 84% increase in hair growth for those with varying forms of alopecia. However, there still needs to be further research to validate the uses of PRP as a long-term solution.

Hair Transplantation

In some cases, hair transplantation is a possible solution to CCCA hair loss. Follicular Unit Extraction is the most popular method, leaving minimal scarring. It’s a three-step process that involves collecting hair follicles from another part of the body, creating recipient sites in the scalp, and then installing the hair similar to planting a seed. Studies on the long-term effects of hair transplantation have shown promising results.

Try Light Therapy

Using low-level laser light, light therapy may be an effective form of treatment. The laser energy penetrates the scalp tissues. The tissues respond with improved circulation and hair growth. Laser light therapy is a painless, non-invasive method to improve hair growth. Some patients experience as much as a 39% improvement in hair growth using light therapy.

How Does CCCA Affect Different Hair Types?

The impact of CCCA can vary depending on the hair’s natural texture, with tightly coiled or kinky hair often experiencing distinctive challenges. The scarring caused by CCCA can result in permanent hair loss, making it essential for individuals with diverse hair types to be aware of the condition’s nuances and seek tailored care and management strategies.

Can Hair Grow Back With CCCA?

Unfortunately, CCCA is progressive. This means that it spreads over time. As a result, we cannot restore scarred hair follicles. If you catch the issue early, you can regrow some hair but in the very late stages, regrowth is unlikely. However, the good news is that treatments can slow or stop  the decline of your follicles. Further treatments like lasers and hair transplants can help stimulate growth, but may be slower than the rate of natural hair growth.

When Should You Seek Treatment For Hair Loss Or CCCA?

If you think you have CCCA, or any other type of hair loss or alopecia, make an appointment ASAP with Ife Rodney, MD-FAAD, a double board-certified dermatologist and hair loss expert.

Time is of the essence when it comes to hair loss. As a result, great results are possible with early intervention. CCCA may also require regular check-ups with our dermatologists for effective management.

We can provide valuable insights into the condition’s nuances, ensuring that any emerging issues are identified and addressed promptly. These regular check-ups not only help track the effectiveness of ongoing treatments but also allow for proactive measures to preserve hair health and minimize the impact of CCCA on the scalp and hair follicles.

Eternal Dermatology is located in the Maple Lawn community in Fulton, Maryland- 5 minutes from Columbia, MD and Laurel, MD. We serve Montgomery County, PG County Howard County, MD and surrounding areas. Our expert team is dedicated to helping you regain confidence in your hair. Book an appointment to embark on your journey to CCCA recovery.

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Because First Impressions Are Eternal

Dr. Ife Rodney is double board-certified, highly rated, and takes a patient-centered and customized approach to care.  She is a top acne expert and cosmetic dermatologist in Columbia and Howard County, MD. Contact us today to learn how Dr. Rodney can help you look and feel your best.

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