If your hair is falling out or thinning in large amounts, you may be suffering from hair loss. Sometimes known as balding, losing hair from the scalp can be a result of heredity, certain medications or medical condition. Anyone at any age can experience hair loss.
The medical term for hair loss is alopecia and is typically permanent. For permanent hair loss, there are two different types: male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. For male-pattern baldness, it can begin as early as the teens or early 20’s. Typically the hair recedes at the temples and balding happens at the top of the head. For female-pattern baldness, there tends to be permanent thinning at the front, sides or crown.
There is temporary hair loss. The 4 different kinds are listed below:
- Alopecia areata. Hair loss usually occurs in small, round, smooth patches about the size of a quarter. Usually the disease doesn’t extend beyond a few bare patches on the scalp, but it can cause patchy hair loss on any area that has hair, including eyebrows, eyelashes and beard. In rare cases, it can progress to cause hair loss over the entire body.
- Telogen effluvium. This type of temporary hair loss occurs suddenly, most often after a significant illness or major life stress. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or may fall out after gentle tugging.
- Traction alopecia. Bald patches can occur if you regularly wear certain hairstyles, such as pigtails, braids or cornrows, or if you use tight rollers.
- Anagen effluvium. In this type of hair loss, actively growing hairs in the anagen state are affected most often by chemotherapeutic drugs given to fight cancer or lymphoma. Hair loss starts soon after beginning therapy and is more extensive than in the telogen effluvium state. In the weeks after the therapy has been completed, the hair cycles re-establish themselves, although the hair may not return as thickly as before chemotherapy.
There are various factors that cause hair loss including: pattern baldness, autoimmune diseases, scarring to the hair follicles, emotional or physical shock, excessive hairstyling, poor nutrition, certain medications and treatments, hormonal treatments, and chemical hair treatments. The best way to determine your cause for hair loss is to visit your dermatologist for a correct diagnosis.
Treatments for Hair Loss
There is over-the-counter medication such as Minoxidil (Rogaine), which is a form of liquid that you rub into the scalp twice daily. There is prescription medication such as Finasteride (Propecia) taken daily in pill form. There are also injections of cortisone into the scalp, to be repeated monthly. There are also hair transplants and scalp reduction, both surgical procedures that is efficient in using existing hair to “cover lost ground”. Each of these treatments have their advantages and disadvantages. Some might be expensive while others might not be as effective.
The hardest part of hair loss is learning to cope with it. There will be frustration and embarrassment when it comes to noticing change in physical appearance. The best way to cope with hair loss is educating yourself and your loved ones about baldness and treatment. The more you know, the better. Whether it is temporary or permanent, hair loss is a serious condition. Your dermatologist is there to provide guidance, however; it is up to you to decide how to treat and cope with it.