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Kinking hair is a symptom of a rare disorder called acquired progressive kinking of the hair, and it usually is followed by gradual hair loss. The affected person's hair gradually starts to grow out short and kinky, giving the hair an almost woolly appearance. It generally occurs in the areas that are associated with early onset male-pattern baldness, which the medical community labels early androgenetic alopecia. The first area to be affected is usually at the top of the hairline, forming an "M" shape above the forehead, and at the crown of the head.
This condition usually affects young adult men or teenage males after puberty. No actual cause is known for acquired progressive kinking of the hair. It is believed that the condition might be hereditary, because early androgenetic alopecia usually follows kinking hair, and that condition is known to be hereditary.
Some kinking hair conditions might also be the result of damaged hair fibers that are caused by over-processing one's hair. The use of hair dye and the use of chemicals in straightening treatments and permanent waving treatments are some examples of over-processing. The excessive use of hair dryers can also cause permanent damage to hair fibers. Some drugs that affect cell division have been known to cause kinking hair, such as the drugs used in retinoid therapy for cancer.
Changes occur in the hair's pigment, and the affected person usually becomes aware that the hair in one area is becoming darker. A change in texture also takes place; the hair becomes kinky and doesn't seem to be growing to the point where it needs to be cut anymore. Hair affected by acquired progressive kinking usually becomes increasingly curly, dry and frizzy. This makes the hair difficult to comb or to manage.
Although kinking hair is more commonly found in men, women also can fall victim to this condition. There is no known treatment for kinking hair. On rare occasions, the abnormality can spontaneously reverse, such as a woman whose hair returns to normal after a pregnancy. In cases where there is no evidence of over-processed hair, it is assumed that alopecia will take place and the kinking hair will gradually start to fall out.