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Early diagnosis catches scarring condition


A dermatologist’s quick action helps a patient with alopecia regain her confidence.

Julie Wright's story

SkinSerious story - Julie Wright, patient
Julie Wright, patient
Like a lot of parents, my two kids keep me very busy, so I put taking care of myself on the back burner. However, I knew I needed to take charge of my health when my hair started thinning.

My dermatologist, Dr. Nada Elbuluk, performed a biopsy and diagnosed me with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA)—a type of scarring that is most commonly seen in Black women.

Dr. Elbuluk explained that CCCA can be caused by a multitude of factors including genetics and can be triggered or exacerbated by certain hair grooming practices. I had been getting my hair relaxed since I was 10 years old, but stopped after the diagnosis. Dr. Elbuluk also had me undergo skin allergy testing which showed that I am allergic to a common chemical in hair dyes, so I stopped coloring my hair. Dr. Elbuluk started me on a treatment plan of topical and oral medications, as well as steroid injections into the scalp to help stop the progression of my condition.

As a result, the scarring and hair thinning are under control. Dr. Elbuluk still sees me a few times a year for maintenance treatments. She always made me feel like I had a choice in my course of treatment, which really comforted me and put me at ease.

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. It makes me so happy to see my hair’s improvements.

The dermatologist's perspective

Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD

“The number one goal after diagnosing scarring alopecia is to prevent it from progressing. It can make a drastic difference when we’re able to catch it early and create a proactive treatment plan. I was thankful that we caught Julie’s case early and were able to really make a difference for her.”

─ Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD, Dermatologist with Keck Medicine of USC and Director of the USC Skin of Color and Pigmentary Disorders Program

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