I'm a black female 48 years old with what I believe is CCCA. I started loosing my hairline in 2014, however in an 18 month period I lost my entire hairline. For the last 14 months I've been treating my scalp with natural oils/home remedies. The hair loss have stopped. I think my condition could be inactive. If the e disease is in fact inactive, without any medical treatment, can my hair grow back on its own or will I need a hair transplant?
Thanks for the great question. As a physician who sees a lot of women with CCCA, your brief story shouts out to me one main message: this may or may not be CCCA that you have and if it is CCCA, one or more other hair loss conditions might be present too.
Let me begin. Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) usually starts in the middle of the scalp or in the crown. CCCA does not usually start in the front like you described. However several conditions can affect the frontal hairline just like you described including traction alopecia, cicatricial marginal alopecia and frontal fibrosing alopecia. What’s a bit unexpected from your story is the complete loss of the hairline that you described. That certainly favours a diagnosis of frontal fibrosing alopecia over traction alopecia but of course I would need to see your scalp myself to answer that. An entity called cicatricial marginal alopecia is also on the list.
Your story is not a typical story of CCCA although of course you could have CCCA back in the mid-scalp too. Many black women with hair loss in the frontal hairline also have some degree of CCCA too.
What you really need now is a diagnosis. An expert dermatologist who treats a lot of patients with hair loss might be able to make the diagnosis without a biopsy but if you are thinking of hair transplants down the road a biopsy is going to be helpful to secure the diagnosis and also determine for you (and your doctors) just how active or inactive the disease truly is right now. My advice to anyone with a story like yours would be to consider a sample from the frontal hairline area and also from the crown. Remember that a biopsy always needs to have a hair in it so don’t biopsy any bare area as that is useless.
I’m suspicious about your diagnosis of CCCA but a few things about your story are more definite. First, it’s unlikely you’ll get spontaneous growth if you haven’t had growth since 2014. Depending on the exact and precise diagnosis, you still could get a bit of regrowth with treatment but likely only a bit. Second, you are probably not a candidate for surgery yet. Whether you become a candidate depends somewhat in the diagnosis but also on the activity level of your primary disease. I like to have patients take photos once they feel their disease is quiet... and if there is absolutely no change in hair loss after two years of photography then a hair transplant might be possible. If you feel your scalp has now become quiet, take a picture today and plan to compare that same picture in 2 years. If the two pictures look 100 % identical you might be a candidate for surgery. The longer answer as to whether you are a candidate for surgery actually depends on several factors.
In summary, your story suggests a diagnosis of frontal fibrosing alopecia or traction alopecia much more than it does CCCA. A biopsy could be extremely important for you and your treating physicians right now.