Seven-year-old with severe traction alopecia
Yesterday, I was at a Sonic drive up restaurant and noticed the cutest little family. Looked like the grandparents were on a little outing with all of their grandchildren ranging in age from maybe 3 -10. One of the little girls with them had quite a severe case of what looked to be traction alopecia. Her hair was pulled into a puff sitting on top of her hair and appeared to be “floating” cause her hairline, for about 1.5 inches in, was practically nonexistent.
I wrestled with my conscious. “Should I say something, or should I mind my own business?” Ok, so my conscious won. Plus grandma looked friendly and approachable. So I got out of my car and in my friendliest voice I say to grandma, “Hi, if you tell me to mind my own business, I will and I’ll certainly understand. But her hair is soooo pretty and then I noticed her hair line. It looks like traction alopecia.”
So the grandma says, “Oh yeah.” Thankfully, I was right, she was just as friendly as can be. “We we took her to the doctor for that.”
Me: “Oh, ok… so you know it’s caused from putting too much stress on her hair line, from pulling her hair too tight.” Now I’m thinking, if they know that, why do they still have this baby’s hair pulled up into a tight puff sitting on top of her head. I look closely, and I can see some really whispy, thin fine hairs all around her head. Tons of those little bumps still visible from having her hair pulled too tightly. Inside I’m just shaking my head.
Grandma: “Yeah we got some medicine. And the muskeetoes be bittin’ her all in her head too and that makes her hair come out too.”
Me: “Ah,” I say. I really don’t know what else to say cause they seem to think they got it all under control, and so now I’m just trying to figure out a way for my busy-body self to graciously exit this conversation, get back in my car and head home. “Oh and so is that her new growth coming in…the medicine is working.”
Grandma: “Oh yes. It is. Yeah we took her to the doctor and everything.” Again, I’m thinking, “Didn’t the doctor tell y’all to stop pulling her hair too tightly cause this puff looks like y’all didn’t get that memo?”
Me: “Oh ok…her hair sure is pretty,” I say as I touch her puff, which turns out to be hard and dry. But All the kids’ hair looked kinda jacked up, and it dawned on me they probably had all just come from the Miller Park pool that’s just up the street.
Grandma: “Yeah and it’s really thick up under there too,” she says rather proudly. But I’m thinking, “It ain’t gonna be thick for much longer cause y’all killing this child’s hair!!!
Me: “Yeah, I’ll bet. My hair is natural also so I know what you mean. Well, ok thanks for letting me talk to ya.” Then I realize it would probably be a good idea to acknowledge how pretty all the kids were (perms and all), which I do, and they all grin ear-to-ear. Then I get in my car and leave.
I was soo sad for that little girl cause I could tell that her hair line and probably her natural hair doesn’t even have a snowballs chance in hell to recover because whomever cares for it is just simply clueless. And, I’ll betcha, sooner or later someone is gonna slap a perm in that child’s hair , which will probably damage her follicles even more, to the point of causing permanent baldness.
Would any of you have had the nerve or audacity to say something, or would you have just minded your own business. I don’t normally do stuff like that, but this time I felt really compelled. Just glad they were friendly people.
Info on Traction Alopecia
Excerpt below is from an article from Skin & Aging web site entitled:
Ethnic Skin and Hair:
Causes and Treatment of Traction Alopecia
– By Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D.
Learning more about this easily preventable condition.
Treating this Condition
When diagnosed early, treatment of traction alopecia involves modification of hairstyling techniques. In young African-American girls with traction alopecia, the parents must be educated on the cause of the alopecia. Frequently, patients believe that this condition is genetic since many of the female family members share this pattern of hair loss. Although there may be a genetic predisposition to traction alopecia, this phenomenon is primarily due to the hair-styling practices that are passed along from generation to generation. (Click here to read the entire article)