If you have thinning hair, bald areas, or excessive shedding on your brushes. More than half of women will suffer hair loss, says the Cleveland Clinic. To solve this problem, find its root cause.
The term “alopecia” is used to describe any condition that causes hair to fall out. Hair loss may be broken down into a few different categories, with the most common being androgenetic alopecia and seborrheic alopecia.
In cases of temporary or non-scarring hair loss, the bald area will eventually fill in. Permanent hair loss or scarring causes irreparable damage to the hair follicles, rendering them incapable of producing new hair.
Dr. Lenzy says that the goal of treating hair loss due to scarring should be to stop the progression of the scarring rather than to promote hair growth. The best treatment for your alopecia depends depend which of the seven forms you have.
Non-scarring (Reversible) Forms of Hair Loss
When individuals talk about male or female pattern hair loss, they are referring to androgenetic alopecia, which often presents as a receding hair line in men and a thinning crown in women. As the most common kind of hair loss, it affects a large percentage of the population.
Over half of all women will have androgenetic alopecia by the time they are 80, according to research. “it can come from either side of the family in men or women, skip a generation, and start earlier in the next generation than in the previous one,” says dermatologist Carolyn Goh, M.D., director of the Hair and Scalp Disorder Clinic at UCLA and health sciences assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine.
Still, there are people whose pattern hair loss has nothing to do with genetics. Androgenetic alopecia may affect women at any age; however, it is most common in middle age. Dr. Lenzy says that as menopause approaches, estrogen levels decline, leaving testosterone unopposed. When testosterone levels are elevated, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is created; this hormone contributes to the thinning of hair follicles in this kind of hair loss.
The condition known as telogen effluvium, or just “excessive hair loss,” is a frequent annoyance that many people may experience at some point in their life.
Stress, generally speaking, refers to substantial life pressures or physical stressors like surgery, medication (including over-the-counter drugs and supplements), weight loss, or a death in the family, to name a few. Dr. Goh claims that stress is a common cause. “It usually starts three to six months after a stressor and lasts for three to six months.” Iron deficiency and hypothyroidism may also cause telogen effluvium.
The beautiful thing is that 70% of your hair strands are still in the anagen, or growth phase, says Dr. Lenzy. Since hair follicles cycle through growth stages, you won’t become bald.
Roughly 2% of the population suffers from this kind of hair loss, which often presents as round, smooth patches anywhere on the scalp without any associated redness, itching, or pain.
As Dr. Lenzy explains it, alopecia areata is thought to be brought on by the body’s immune system. Occasionally, the body’s immune system may make a mistake, causing T cells to attack hair follicles.
Signs of traction alopecia include hair loss and bald spots in the temple region or wherever else hair is pulled firmly on a regular basis. A lot of people lose their hair because of the stress they put on their follicles by wearing their hair in tight styles like braids, ponytails, extensions, or locs.
Scarring (Permanent) Forms of Hair Loss
Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA)
Dr. Goh says that the breaking, thinning, and perhaps some scalp discomfort associated with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia frequently present themselves initially on the top of the head. Gradually it may spread to other areas, and in extreme cases it might cause permanent baldness.
A higher rate of CCCA infection is seen in black women. Recent studies have shown that 25% of people who have this kind of hair loss have a genetic mutation in a protein crucial to hair follicle formation.
She further notes that the same haircare practices that cause traction alopecia also have a role in the development of chronic cicatricial alopecia (CCCA).
Lichen planopilaris (LPP)
Lichen planopilaris may lead to bald spots and other scalp symptoms including redness, itching, burning, and pain. More Caucasian women experience this kind of alopecia than any other.
It has been hypothesized that an autoimmune mechanism is at play in LPP, but this is not yet proven. Dr. Lenzy notes that some research indicates that people with this kind of hair loss also have decreased activity of the crucial PPAR-gamma enzyme.
Due to its importance in lipid metabolism on the scalp, PPAR-gamma deficiency has been linked to LPP. Dr. Goh says that postmenopausal women are more likely to get frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA), a form of LPP. She claims that FFA causes a receding hairline in the front, sides, and even the back of the head. Loss of eyebrow and eyelash hair is also common.
A second autoimmune form of scarring alopecia is lupus of the scalp, which Dr. Lenzy identifies as alopecia areata.
This is especially common among women of color. It appears as red lesions that are thick and scaly but seldom cause pain or itching.
Differentiating between hair loss and breakage
Medical professionals name hair thinning and loss Trichorrhexis nodosa. Hair thinning begins at the scalp, however this happens around halfway down the shaft. Dr. Lenzy suggests, for instance, that the presence of small hairs of varying lengths on the floor might be indicative of breaking.
When your hair starts shedding, though, it may come out in long strands all the way down. Chemical relaxers, blow dryers, and hair dye all have the potential to dry out hair, making it more brittle and prone to breaking.
If you’re using the wrong haircare regimen, you’ll start seeing split ends all over. On the other hand, balding in only one place could be a sign of alopecia areata or chronic progressive cicatricial alopecia.
Effective Hair Loss Treatments
Knowing the root cause of your particular kind of hair loss might guide your treatment choices. In most cases, the stress-related telogen effluvium may be cured by waiting the recommended six to nine months for hair to start growing again.If telogen effluvium is caused by anything like a thyroid disease or low iron levels, however, your hair should start growing again after the underlying cause is addressed.
is a foam or liquid available over-the-counter, requiring no prescription. It may take several months of use to notice an increase in hair thickness, and if discontinued, any regrowth will be lost.
Dr. Goh says topical minoxidil is the only treatment for female pattern baldness that has been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (Rogaine). This OTC drug was originally developed to treat androgenetic alopecia, but it is now often used to treat other types of hair loss as well.
All treatments for hair loss need regular application of the therapy, and this is true for minoxidil as long as the underlying cause of hair loss persists. Like brushing your teeth, it might become a habit. With minoxidil, finasteride (Propecia) has shown to be an effective treatment for male pattern baldness, a form of androgenetic alopecia.
2. Finasteride (Propecia).
This prescription medication is a pill you take by mouth. You may have to take finasteride for months before you see results, and you’ll lose new hair if you stop taking it.
A device with hundreds of tiny needles that you use on your scalp may help hair grow, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The site says research suggests that microneedling may work better if you use it along with another hair loss treatment. You can buy one of these devices without a prescription, but talk to a dermatologist first. They can let you know if it’s safe for you, and they can recommend a specific microneedling device.
4. Hair transplant.
This type of surgery can give you lasting results. A surgeon removes individual hairs—or a strip of skin with hairs—from one part of your scalp and transplants them to thinning or balding areas. The surgery takes 4 to 8 hours, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. You need to talk with a dermatologist to find out if this treatment is right for you.
5. Low-level laser therapy.
The American Academy of Dermatology says research suggests that this scalp treatment may help the following conditions:
- Male-pattern hair loss
- Alopecia areata
- Hair loss from chemotherapy
- Healing and hair growth following a hair transplant
You may need to get low-level laser therapy several times a week for months before you notice more hair.
6. Platelet-rich plasma.
A dermatologist takes a bit of your blood and puts it in a machine that separates the plasma from it. Then they inject the plasma into the parts of your scalp where you’re losing hair. The whole procedure takes around 10 minutes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Most people get the treatment once a month for 3 months, with a follow-up treatment every 3 to 6 months.
Hair Loss Treatments to Avoid
Vitamins, pills, and shampoos that promise to prevent hair loss are discouraged by Dr. Goh. All of them are too pricey, and no one has taken the time to thoroughly test them.
In addition, the FDA does not strictly control these items, so there is no guarantee that they are safe and effective.
People who already have normal biotin levels (the vast majority of the population) should not use biotin-rich supplements since there is no evidence that they are helpful.
The FDA issued a warning around two years ago that taking very high doses of biotin might affect your thyroid function tests and heart enzymes, as reported by Dr. Lenzy. Many people incorrectly assume that since something is “natural” or a vitamin, it must be safe to consume.
Stop taking any multivitamins two or three days before to blood test to ensure accurate results if they contain less biotin.
While certain “natural” therapies, like castor oil, may be harmless and ineffectual, Dr. Lenzy does not recommend them. She stresses the need of getting an early diagnosis if you suspect you have scarring alopecia. If you consume castor oil for six months to a year, you will have permanent hair loss and will never be able to regrow those follicles.
In her opinion, a proper medical diagnosis is the first step in the right direction. Like diabetes and high blood pressure, they are genuine medical conditions. Everyone I see struggling and attempting new things would have a lot higher chance of success if they had only gotten help from them sooner.
When to See a Doctor for Hair Loss
Due to individual variation, there is no universally accepted threshold of hair loss at which a visit to the dermatologist is warranted. Dr. Goh said that although some people sweat a lot, others don’t sweat much at all.
Keep in mind that there may be no noticeable hair loss associated with thinning hair or a receding hair line. Dr. Goh recommends going to the doctor if the hair loss is noticeable, if the scalp is itchy or burning, or if it has lasted for more than six months. The sooner you go, the better, especially if there is a significant family history of hair loss.
It is crucial that you locate the right medical professional. Find a dermatologist who has completed further training in treating hair loss and is up-to-date on the most recent treatments under investigation.
Dr. Goh recommends keeping track of any other symptoms, such as fatigue or joint pain, since these signs may help your doctor determine the underlying reasons. In the same vein, it’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion.