Everyone loses hair—between 50 and 100 strands a day. Usually the body replaces the hair loss with new growth, but when your body stops or lessens hair production, you are left with less hair. Sometimes your body will resume hair regrowth on its own, but sometimes the hair will not regrow. This condition is known as alopecia and can be a very emotional experience that changes your view of yourself. Most men and almost 40% of women experience some kind of hair loss, which can cause anxiety and affect self-esteem. Most cases can be stopped or treated with the help of a dermatologist.
Hair loss may occur gradually as is true with hereditary hair loss, and sometimes it happens suddenly, causing patchiness or scar tissue.
What Causes It?
There are many causes of hair loss. It can be the result of genetics, illness, diet, medication or childbirth. Even the way you style your hair can affect hair loss. Tightly pulling back hair in a cap or wearing ponytails can result in hair loss. The experience of a shocking or stressful incident, situation or environment also may trigger balding.
Hair loss can also be a symptom of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and lupus, or the result of a fungal infection (ringworm, also known as tinea capitis). Medications, including chemotherapy or blood thinners, may be helpful for you otherwise but can damage hair follicles.
Androgenetic Alopecia is the inherited trait to stop growing new hair — it is a characteristic passed down through your family’s genes. The most common type of alopecia, this form of the disorder affects 80 million Americans. The loss of active hair follicles is gradual and may take place over months or years before it is even noticeable. The hair follicles that usually stop producing are located along the forehead hairline and along the crown of the head.
This form of hair loss is prevalent in both males and females, and often is noticed after menopause in women. It is the most common type, affecting 80 million Americans. There is no way to avoid androgenic alopecia and there is no cure.
Scientists believe that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own hair, mistaking it for a foreign substance (often in people that are otherwise healthy). Alopecia areata leaves smooth, round patches of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body.
Cicatricial alopecia is a rare disease that develops in otherwise healthy people. It destroys a person’s hair follicles, replacing them with scar tissue. This, in turn, inhibits new hair growth.
Women who experience hormone fluctuation such as that in pregnancy notice hair loss around the time when hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels but regain the hair growth-loss cycle over time. Menopause is another hormonal surge that may cause the temporary loss of hair growth.
The first step to treating hair loss is to identify its cause. A Riverchase dermatologist can diagnose the source and then recommend the best treatment for you.
Hair loss resulting from health or lifestyle issues may be helped by changing damaging habits or adjusting medication that is less likely to trigger hair loss. When these changes do not work, hair loss may be treated with medication to stimulate hair follicles. Some treatments may be prescribed to treat male pattern hair loss by blocking the body’s production of a hormone in the scalp that stops hair growth. If these measures do not work, a hair transplant may offer a solution.