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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53-60

A community-based study of hair care practices, scalp disorders and psychological effects on women in a Suburban town in Southwest Nigeria

Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos/Consultant Physician, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Erere Otrofanowei
Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos/Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_294_22

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Introduction: The scalp hairs on an average African is dry with low tensile strength and a tendency to break easily. This is mostly due to poor penetration of the natural oils on the scalp and the very curly hair texture. Various techniques developed to manage African hair are associated with certain hair and scalp disorders and are sources of distress. Objectives: This was a cross-sectional survey to compare natural African hair and chemically processed (relaxed) hair to determine the effect of hair care and grooming practices on common scalp disorders and the psychological effect in Nigerian women. Subjects and Methods: Questionnaires were administered to women at the market, churches and outreaches with many women in attendance to document the hair grooming practices, common scalp symptoms and psychological effects experienced. They were also examined for the presence of seborrhoeic dermatitis and traction alopecia. Results: The study involved 452 women (62.17%) with relaxed hair and 275 women (37.83%) with natural (untreated) hair. Women with relaxed hair experienced significantly more flaking of the scalp (P = 0.046, x2 = 6.16), hair breakage (P = 0.023, x2 = 11.35) and hair loss (P = 0.020, x2 = 7.87) than those with natural hair. The most common psychological effects of hair scalp disorders in all participants were feeling of uneasiness 142 (19.5%), frustration 49 (6.7%), poor body image 40 (5.5%) and anger 38 (5.2%). Significantly more women with relaxed hair experienced moderate hair loss from traction than women with natural hair (P = 0.014, x2 = 8.52). Conclusion: Nigerian women experienced clinical and psychological distress consequent to their hair grooming practices. Individuals with relaxed hair had more physical symptoms, hair loss and psychological disturbances than those with natural hair.

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