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Friday, January 25, 2013

The Hair Loss Conundrum

'head3141252' photo (c) 2005, Scotto Bear - license:
Hair loss is a common problem. Often associated with genetics or disease, it occurs for a variety of reasons. Most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day. You may have noticed it in the shower or when brushing your hair. Although this type of regular hair loss is not cause for concern, there are some conditions that may require a visit to the dermatologist.

This blog will give you The Skinny on several common types of hair loss, including when to see a doctor.

Hereditary Hair Loss

Male or Female Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia)
This is the most common form of hair loss, often starting with a receding hairline. Many men also see bald patches on the back or top of their heads.

In women, hereditary pattern baldness often results in an overall thinning of the hair. Some women see receding hairlines or bald patches, although this is rare.

There are a variety of treatments available, which include methods of preventing and reversing hereditary hair loss. These include:
  • Corticosteroids – can be used to treat patchy hair loss
  • Finasteride and Minoxidil – the only FDA-approved drug treatments for hair loss
  • Hair transplants – minor surgery under local anesthetic performed by a dermatologist

Hormone-Related Hair Loss

Giving Birth
Many women experience noticeable hair loss after giving birth. This type of hair loss is temporary and related to changes in the body’s estrogen levels. Within a few months, the hair will grow back.

It is also common for women to experience hair loss during menopause. This is also related to changing hormone levels. Although it is temporary, women ages 40 and older should not expect to have their hair grow back as fully as it previously was.

Traumatic events often have physical effects, and hair loss is often one of them. As with other hormone-related hair loss, this is temporary.

Disease-Related Hair Loss

Cancer treatments
Some cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, can cause hair loss. This is temporary, and the hair will grow back after treatment is finished.
Underlying medical condition
There are several diseases that cause hair loss. These include thyroid disease, anemia and others for which hair loss is a symptom of a larger problem. This type of hair loss can often be stopped or reversed by treating the disease.

This is a psychiatric condition in which a person feels compelled to pull out hair from his or her scalp or other parts of the body. There is no dermatological treatment for this, and sufferers should seek psychiatric help.

Disorder-Related Hair Loss

Alopecia areata
Believed to be an autoimmune disease, people with alopecia areata are often otherwise healthy. The disorder causes the body to attack its own hair, causing smooth, round patches of hair loss. Many people with this condition experience complete re-growth, although it can last a significant period of time. Dermatological treatment can help the hair grow back more quickly.

Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia
Like alopecia areata, cicatricial alopecia develops in otherwise healthy people. It is a rare disorder in which the body actually destroys hair follicles. Scar tissue grows in its place and the hair cannot grow back. Although treatment is available, it is only to stop inflammation from destroying the hair follicles.

If you have hair loss that may require a visit to the dermatologist, call our office today and we will be happy to schedule an appointment.

Have more questions about hair loss not answered here? Leave a comment and we’ll be glad to answer it. 


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