What You Should Know About Hair Loss
- When to see doctor
Alopecia, or hair loss, is a fairly common condition. Although it’s more common in older people, anyone can get it, even kids.
The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that between 50 and 100 hairs fall out on average per day (AAD). Your head has roughly 100,000 hairs, so that slight loss is not visible. In most cases, new hair grows in to replace the lost hair, although this isn’t always the case.
Hair loss can occur suddenly or gradually over many years. It could be either transient or permanent, depending on the underlying cause.
Trying to determine whether you are genuinely losing hair or merely shedding some hair as normal? Not sure when a doctor visit is necessary? Continue reading to learn more about hair loss and how to treat it.
Hair Loss Symptoms
The main symptom of alopecia is losing more hair than usual, but this can be harder to identify than you might think.
The following symptoms can provide some clues:
- expanding portion If you separate your hair, you can begin to notice that your part is expanding, which may indicate hair thinning.
- hairline is receding. Likely an indication of thinning hair is if you find your hairline is higher than usual.
- Untied hair. After using a brush or comb, inspect it. Are there more hair clumps than usual? If so, hair loss might be indicated by this.
- bald spots. These might come in different sizes and develop over time.
- drain blockages. You might discover that hair has stopped the drains in your shower or sink.
- Itching or pain. You might also feel pain or itching on your scalp if you have a skin issue that is the root of your hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss?
There are a few main types of hair loss, each with different underlying causes.
Both hair growth stimulation and baldness prevention are achieved with minoxidil. People under 40 who have recently lost hair will find it to be most helpful. Hairline receding is unaffected by minoxidil uses. It doesn’t treat baldness, and if the medicine is stopped, the majority of newly grown hair falls out within a few months.
Hereditary hair loss, such as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, is referred to as androgenic alopecia. Up to 50% of people are affected by it, making it the most prevalent cause of hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia-related hair loss typically occurs gradually. While some people may start losing their hair at puberty, others may not start noticing signs until they are in their middle years, which is between the ages of 6 and 11.
Female pattern baldness frequently causes thinning of the scalp all over. A broadening or thinning surrounding the portion could also be the appearance. Male pattern baldness often causes a “M” shape to the head due to gradual hair loss above the temples and thinning towards the crown.
Due to the autoimmune disease alopecia areata, your immune system attacks your hair follicles, causing little to big bald patches to appear. It might result in total hair loss in some circumstances.
Some persons with alopecia areata also have hair loss from their brows, eyelashes, or other body regions in addition to scalp hair loss.
In anagen effluvium, hair is lost quickly. Typically, radiation or chemotherapy treatments are to blame for this.
Following the end of the treatment, hair normally grows back.
Telogen effluvium is a type of sudden hair loss that results from emotional or physical shock, like a traumatic event, period of extreme stress, or a serious illness.
It can also happen because of hormonal changes, like those that happen in:
Other potential causes of telogen effluvium include:
- certain endocrine disorders
- starting or stopping hormonal birth control
Several types of medications can also cause it, including:
- oral retinoids
- thyroid medications
This type of hair loss typically resolves on its own once the underlying cause is addressed.
Tinea capitis, also called ringworm of the scalp, is a fungal infection that can affect the scalp and hair shaft. It causes small bald patches that are scaly and itchy. Over time, the size of these patches increases.
Other symptoms include:
- brittle hair that breaks easily
- scalp tenderness
- scaly patches of skin that look grey or red
It’s treatable with antifungal medication.
Traction alopecia results from too much pressure and tension on the hair, often from wearing it in tight styles, like braids, ponytails, or buns.
Diseases that cause scarring, such as lichen planus and some types of lupus, can result in permanent hair loss due to the scarring.
Photos of Hair Loss
How Is Hair Loss Diagnosed?
It’s recommended to make an appointment with a medical practitioner if you detect any changes in your hair because so many reasons can result in hair loss.
Your medical history and a physical examination will probably be combined to assist them identify the possible causes.
They could take a biopsy of the skin on your scalp if they suspect an autoimmune or skin disorder. For laboratory testing, a small portion of skin must be carefully removed. It’s critical to remember that the growth of hair is a complicated process.
In order to look for nutrient shortages or indications of an underlying ailment, they may also request blood testing.
What Are the Treatment Options for Hair Loss?
There are several ways to manage hair loss, but the ideal one for you will depend on the root of the problem.
The first line of treatment will probably consist of medications.
OTC drugs typically come in the form of topical creams, gels, foams, solutions, or solutions that are applied directly to the scalp. The majority of products have a minoxidil component.
In particular for male pattern baldness, prescription drugs like finasteride (Propecia) may be helpful. Although some people who take finasteride notice fresh hair growth, this medicine is taken daily to reduce hair loss.
If hair loss appears to be linked to an autoimmune illness, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs such corticosteroids.
If medication does not help, your healthcare professional might recommend one of the following procedures.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Moving tiny skin plugs with a few hairs, which are used in hair transplant surgery, to bald areas of your head.
Given that genetic baldness usually affects the top of the head, this is effective for those who have it. You might require several operations over time if your hair loss is progressive in some cases.
A scalp reduction involves the removal of a hairless section of your scalp and the replacement of that section with a hairy section. Another choice is a flap, whereby your surgeon covers a bald spot with hair-covered scalp.
Bald spots can also be covered by tissue growth, however this needs two surgeries. A tissue expander is inserted under the hair-covered area of your scalp that is adjacent to the bald spot during the initial operation. The expander extends out the area of your scalp that has hair after a few weeks.
The expander is taken out during the second procedure, and the expanded area of hair-covered scalp is pulled over the bald place.
How Can I Prevent Hair Loss?
There are a few things you can do to minimize hair loss:
- Hairstyles should be flowy. Keep your braids, buns, or ponytails loose if you frequently wear your hair in these styles to prevent undue stress on your hair.
- Do not touch your hair. Try to avoid pulling, twisting, or rubbing your hair as much as you can.
- Let hair air dry. After bathing, gently pat your hair dry with a towel. Please refrain from stroking or twirling your hair in the towel.
- Aim for a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Try to include a lot of protein and iron in your meals and snacks.
Styling products and tools are also common culprits in hair loss. Examples of products or tools that can affect hair loss include:
- blow dryers
- heated combs
- hair straighteners
- coloring products
- bleaching agents
If you choose to heat style your hair, only do it when it is completely dry, and use the lowest heat settings.
If you’re losing hair right now, wash your hair with a mild baby shampoo. Consider washing your hair no more frequently than every other day unless your hair is exceptionally oily.
When to See a Doctor About Hair Loss
For any unexplained hair loss, it is best to consult a healthcare provider who can identify the underlying cause and provide the most appropriate course of action.
Be sure to bring up any more unexpected symptoms you’ve observed during your appointment, such as:
- unexplained weight loss
- limb swelling
- changes in bowel movements
- rashes or other skin changes on your scalp or body
Along with any family history of baldness, whatever details you can give regarding how rapidly the hair loss started will be beneficial.