Free the Bun: Prevalence of Alopecia Among Active Duty Service Women, Fiscal Years 2010-2019

Jessica Korona-Bailey*, Amanda Banaag*, Dana R. Nguyen*, Helena Pasieka*, Tracey Pérez Koehlmoos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Active duty service women (ADSW) constitute 16% of the force. The prevalence of alopecia, a dermatologic condition characterized by hair loss, is understudied in regard to hairstyle regulations across the U.S. military services. Alopecia has several causes; one of which is due to tension on the scalp secondary to tight hairstyles. In the U.S., alopecia has a lifetime prevalence of 1.7-2.1%; no previous studies which evaluated this condition in service women were found. Materials and Methods: We used the Military Health System Data Repository to perform a retrospective study to assess the prevalence of alopecia in ADSW from fiscal years (FYs) 2010 to 2019. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics on patient demographics and trend analysis on the prevalence of alopecia over the 10-year study period. Results: A total of 498,219 ADSW were identified over the 10-year study period, of which 2.40% had a diagnosis of alopecia. Overall, the prevalence of alopecia decreases over the 10-year period, with two observed periods of slight increase (FY 2013 to 2014 and FY 2018 to 2019) when comparing prevalence year-to-year. Of those diagnosed, the majority were young, Black, with a senior enlisted rank, and in the U.S. Army. Conclusion: The prevalence of alopecia in ADSW is slightly higher than that in civilian populations and is most likely underreported. It is more commonly diagnosed in Black women than would be expected based on ratios of this population in military service. Policy changes to ensure that traction alopecia is a qualifying medical condition for Veterans Affairs disability compensation, mechanisms are in place for more specific coding in the electronic medical record, and treatment options to be covered by TRICARE are recommended. All U.S. military services should consider updating and evaluating regulations to improve the health and quality of life of ADSW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E492-E496
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume188
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

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