Getting to the Root of the Problem: Hair Loss and Thinning
August marks Hair Loss Awareness month, which draws attention to a common dermatological issue that affects 1.5 billion men and women around the world. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 30 million women and 50 million men in the United States are affected by hereditary hair loss – and many more are likely undiagnosed.
For many people, hair loss and thinning can be emotionally challenging, leading to depression, anxiety and social avoidance. But you don’t have to suffer alone: modern research has delivered products and treatments that target many hair-related issues.
THE EARLY STAGES
Hair loss or thinning isn’t always noticeable right away. For some people, the process happens quickly – and for others, it’s a gradual thinning that is detected years or even decades after it begins.
Men often note a receding hairline or bald spot first, while thinning typically starts to occur on the crown of the scalp for women. Signs of hair thinning can be more subtle with women (such as a widening part or overall thinning), making it more difficult to catch in its initial stages.
Early treatment is important for both genders, as it minimizes hair loss and increases the overall effectiveness of treatments and products.
WHAT CAUSES HAIR LOSS?
Many factors contribute to hair loss and thinning, but the most common is beyond our control: genetics.
Known as androgenic alopecia – or male or female pattern hair loss – hereditary hair loss refers to people who have inherited genes that cause hair shrinking and eventually, inhibit growth. This tends to worsen with age since hair growth naturally slows as we get older. If caught early, hereditary hair loss can be treated and managed to minimize hair loss and stimulate regrowth.
Diseases or Conditions
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that affects about 7 million people in the United States. When the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, it causes sudden hair loss. While alopecia areata cannot be cured, its symptoms can be managed with a physician’s assistance.
Hair loss may be a symptom of other diseases and conditions, such as thyroid disease, scalp psoriasis (derived from plaque psoriasis), scarring alopecia (inflammation that destroys follicles) or a hormonal imbalance. A dermatologist can help determine the cause of your hair loss through an examination and additional testing.
Trauma or stressful events in a person’s life can lead to temporary hair loss. Giving birth is a common example, as many postpartum women report increased hair shedding after having a baby.
Other hair loss-triggering events include divorce, the death of a loved one, illness or surgery.
Hair Treatments or Styling
Hair loss or thinning can be caused by our actions. Coloring or highlighting your hair is a common offense that can be damaging if not properly executed or if it’s done too much. Other treatments – such as perms or chemical relaxers – can cause damage that may eventually lead to hair loss. Overuse of hot tools, such as flat irons, curling irons and blow-dryers, can also be harmful to your hair health.
Certain hairstyles that pull on your hair, like tight ponytails, cornrows, buns or extensions, can cause trauma to the follicle – which may trigger eventual hair loss.
TREATING HAIR LOSS AT DERMATOLOGY CONSULTANTS
Your hair is part of your skincare, too! At Dermatology Consultants, we offer various products and treatments to help patients manage and treat hair loss or thinning. This includes prescription medications, medical-grade hair supplements or topicals, a theradome laser cap for in-home use, as well as in-office procedures (such as PRP, regenerative therapies and microneedling).
When we see a new patient for hair loss, we always start with a physical exam and discussion about family history. Depending upon the situation, we might order blood work or a biopsy to determine the cause of hair thinning. From there, we’ll use data, analysis and the patient’s goals to custom-tailor a treatment that targets the exact type of hair loss.
If you’re struggling with hair loss, don’t suffer in silence. Let one of our experienced and caring professionals help you start your journey toward a fuller head of hair. Contact us today to book a consultation or an appointment.