As we get older, it’s not uncommon to lose some of our hair. Indeed, according to the American Hair Loss Association, approximately two-thirds of U.S. men undergo some hair loss by the time they’re 35 years old, and women account for 40% of Americans who lose hair during their lifetime. There are many different causes for hair loss, and each person’s unique body, diet, exposures, and other factors contribute to whether or not the loss is extensive.
Any loss is stressful, though, so it’s encouraging to know that today there are options available for hair loss treatment, prevention, and restoration. Knowing the cause of your hair loss is the first step in identifying the right treatment and hair loss prevention regimen, as well as potential treatments that will be most effective based on your scalp’s needs.
A large portion of the person's scalp hair is continually growing. The growth cycle lasts approximately four years. At any one time, about one-tenth of the scalp hair first stops growing and then is lost. Hair loss of approximately 50 to 100 hairs a day is normal. When the hair is lost, normally, new hairs start growing again from the same hair follicle. Alopecia develops when there are more hairs being lost as compared to the number of hairs growing in. In males, pattern baldness is marked by hair loss over the top and front of the head and scalp. In females, thinning develops throughout the scalp, but women do not usually become completely bald.
There are many causes of hair loss, including childbirth, severe illness with high fever, chronic illness, thyroid disease, insufficient protein in the diet, medications, low iron blood levels, fungus infection, alopecia areata, and improper hair care. Sometimes hair loss is an early sign of an underlying health problem. For example, hair is mostly made up of protein. When the body does not have sufficient protein, more hairs enter the resting phase, are lost, and the remaining hairs become more brittle. Low iron anemia is also related to hair loss. These conditions are corrected with sufficient protein and iron intake in the diet. In addition, many medications, such as those used for birth control and for a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer, may cause temporary hair loss. Thinning hair may also be caused by an autoimmune disease, which would present its own challenge to overcome to manage hair loss.
Dermatologists are skilled in diagnosing the different types of hair loss. In rare instances, they may perform a skin biopsy at the affected area, so it can be examined under a microscope. Hair loss that is diagnosed as being caused by systemic disease will require an extensive evaluation and specific tests to properly identify the problem.
Proper treatment for the underlying cause of hair loss may restore hair growth. It is important to see a dermatologist early on to identify the type of hair loss and to start a course of treatment. Other treatments include topical treatment or oral therapies such as Propecia and Minoxidil.
There are also very safe and effective hair restoration methods available. They can consist of simply weaving and blending in someone else's hair to surgically transplanting hair follicles from another part of the scalp to the affected area. Depending on the type of hair loss, a combination of dietary, medical, and/or surgical treatments can be very effective.
Talk to a dermatologist to find out how to best treat your scalp’s condition and find a hair loss solution that’s appropriate for you. Schedule an appointment for a consultation today!