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USC dermatologist’s quick action stops scarring from alopecia


American Academy of Dermatology honors Dr. Nada Elbuluk as National “Patient Care Hero”

Local board-certified dermatologist Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD, was honored as an American Academy of Dermatology Patient Care Hero for swiftly diagnosing and treating a patient’s severe scarring condition.

When Los Angeles area resident Julie Wright noticed her hair was thinning, she turned to dermatologist Dr. Elbuluk for help. After a biopsy, Dr. Elbuluk diagnosed Wright with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (commonly referred to as CCCA)—a scarring condition that mostly affects Black women. If untreated, CCCA can lead to permanent hair loss.

Dr. Elbuluk began Wright on a thorough treatment plan, including topical and oral medications, as well as steroid injections into the scalp to help stop the progression of her condition and prevent it from spreading. Wright’s CCCA is now under control.

“The number one goal after diagnosing scarring alopecia is to prevent it from progressing,” said Dr. Elbuluk, dermatologist with Keck Medicine of USC and director of the USC Skin of Color and Pigmentary Disorders Program. “I was thankful we caught Julie’s case early and were able to really make a difference for her.”

CCCA is estimated to affect 15 percent of Black women. Studies suggest the condition could be tied to a specific gene or a disease that causes inflammation in the body. However, its exact cause is unknown.

Under Dr. Elbuluk’s direction, Wright underwent an allergy test to find potential triggers of her CCCA. After the results showed that Wright was allergic to a common chemical in hair dyes, she stopped coloring her hair.

“Dr. Elbuluk always made me feel like I had a choice in my course of treatment, which really comforted me and put me at ease,” Wright said. “Though I wish I had paid more attention to my hair earlier in life, I’m glad that with my dermatologist’s help I’m addressing it now.”

The AAD created the Patient Care Heroes program to recognize physicians who transform patients’ lives by utilizing their expertise and collaborating with other physicians.

“CCCA and other severe types of alopecia affect millions of Americans each year,” said board-certified dermatologist Ken Tomecki, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “Dermatologists play an integral role in evaluating and treating patients with hair loss to stop the progression and help improve quality of life.”

To learn more about the work of Dr. Elbuluk, visit https://www.aad.org/skinserious/julie-wright.

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About SkinSerious SkinSerious is a campaign by the American Academy of Dermatology that highlights dermatologists’ role as partners in the health care system, providing expert care for serious conditions. To learn more, visit SkinSerious.org.

About the AAD Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin) or YouTube(AcademyofDermatology).