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HAIR LOSS / ALOPECIA

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HAIR LOSS / ALOPECIA

Losing hair is an entirely normal occurrence; we can lose between 50 and 100 strands every day without even realizing it. Washing your hair has been known to cause up to 250 strand loss in the day. The real issue begins when new hairs don’t replace the falling ones – this would be considered balding or thinning hair. 

Hair loss, otherwise known as alopecia, is a common problem amongst all generations. In some cases, it’s passed down through genetics and happens naturally with age. For others, however, hair shedding could be an omen for an undiagnosed medical issue.

Alopecia can manifest itself anywhere from your scalp to your entire body, and it may be temporary or permanent. Heredity, hormonal shifts, medical issues and the natural ageing process are all possible causes of alopecia.

Baldness typically describes the extensive thinning of hair on one’s scalp. Normally, hereditary balding with age is the most frequent cause of this kind of hair loss. Certain people choose to let their natural receding process flow without any interference or concealment, while others may seek out certain treatments that prevent further hair loss and stimulate regrowth.

Hair loss can manifest in various forms and differ based on the root cause. It may happen abruptly or gradually, affecting your scalp solely or all over your body. Depending on the type and severity of hair loss, alopecia can manifest in different signs and symptoms. Some common signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Thinning of hair:  One of the earliest signs of hair loss is thinning of hair. This can be noticed when you see fewer hair strands on your scalp or when your hair appears less dense than it used to be.
  • Receding hairline: a common sign of male pattern baldness, a type of hair loss that affects many men as they age.
  • Bald patches: In some cases, hair loss can lead to the formation of bald patches on the scalp. These patches may be circular or irregular in shape and may be smooth or have a slightly rough texture. 
  • Excessive shedding: If you notice that you are shedding more hair than usual when you comb or brush your hair or if you are finding large amounts of hair on your pillow or in the shower, this could be a sign of hair loss.
  • Itching or irritation: Hair loss can sometimes be accompanied by itching, irritation, or inflammation on the scalp.
  • Changes in hair texture: Some types of hair loss can cause changes in the texture of your hair. For example, your hair may become more brittle or dry or feel thinner or more fragile.

Should you experience any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to speak with a dermatologist to evaluate the underlying cause of your hair loss and develop a treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hair loss is typically related to one or more of the following factors: 

  • Family history (heredity): Age-related hair loss, clinically known as androgenic or male-/female-pattern alopecia, is the most frequent cause of baldness. This condition affects both genders in distinct but predictable patterns – male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness, respectively, manifest through a receding hairline for males to thinning along the scalp crown for females. Typically gradual in onset, this type of hereditary shedding can be difficult to manage once it has taken hold.
  • Hormonal changes and medical conditions: Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid problems can cause either permanent or temporary hair loss. 
  • Alopecia areata (an immune system-related disorder resulting in patchy hair loss), scalp infections such as ringworm and trichotillomania – a condition causing one to pull out their own hair – may also be responsible for widespread baldness.
  • Medications and supplements: Hair loss can be a detrimental effect of certain medications, including those used to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, cardiovascular issues, gout and hypertension. 
  • Radiation therapy to the head: The hair may not grow back the same as it was before. 
  • A very stressful event: Following sudden trauma such as an intense emotional shock or physical injury, many individuals have reported a considerable reduction in the amount of hair they have. Thankfully this kind of balding is only short-term. Nevertheless, certain hairstyles and treatments can end up causing long-lasting damage to your scalp – extreme hairstyling that pulls your hair tight, like pigtails or cornrows, may result in traction alopecia; absorbing hot oil for styling and chemical perms could also lead to permanent hair loss if scarring has been caused.

Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL): Male-pattern hair loss is often the most common cause of baldness in men, and it generally presents itself during your 40s or 50s; however, for some people, the process starts even earlier. Male-pattern alopecia can become increasingly apparent–often beginning as a receding hairline at the crown of your head. Indeed, by age 50, approximately half of white men have been exposed to signs like thinning scalp patches or full balding due to this condition.

Taking action early on can help reduce further hair loss and even cause some men to regrow the lost locks. Those who saw the best results with treatment began addressing their hair thinning soon after noticing it.

Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL): is a condition that millions of women suffer from and is the most widespread cause of hair loss among them. Usually beginning in middle age, around a woman’s 40s, 50s or 60s, some cases may start sooner than expected.

FPHL is not just a condition that causes hair loss but one in which the pattern of hair thinning gradually intensifies over time. You may notice your part getting wider or an obvious recession near your temples; if left untreated, it can lead to widespread thinning across the scalp. It’s important to note that FPHL is hereditary and triggered by hormones after menopause – so early detection and treatment are key for successful results! With timely intervention, you minimize further damage while having an opportunity to regrow lost strands – the earlier, the better.

If doctors are suspicious that the hair loss might be caused by an underlying health problem, a nutritional deficiency or hormonal irregularity, they may propose one or more blood tests.

  • Iron Deficiency:  Insufficient iron quantities can majorly contribute to hair loss. An easy and reliable way for doctors to assess the quantity of stored iron in your body is by conducting a ferritin test, which measures the amount of protein present in one’s bloodstream.

  • Thyroid Disease: Hair loss could be an indication of a thyroid disorder like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland produces too many or too few hormones that aid in regulating metabolism. The exact correlation between hair loss and thyroid disease remains unknown; however, some studies suggest that certain hormones produced by the body due to these conditions may lead to the destruction of hair follicles.

  • Androgen Excess: Women with a lack of volume in their hair and no signs of baldness may be dealing with an overabundance of hormones known as androgens, which includes testosterone. Symptoms that can point to an excess level include hair loss, patches of facial or chest/stomach growths, irregular menstrual cycles, and acne – all valid reasons for undergoing a blood test to measure the amount present in your system.

 

Dr Miller is here to help

dr natalie miller

Dr. Natalia Miller

Dr Miller understands the psychological distress hair loss can cause, and provides personalised care as well as emotional support to help you improve your problems and appearance. She is knowledgeable in distinguishing between various types of hair-loss through careful examination, clinical tests, and occasionally a biopsy if necessary; this allows her to accurately diagnose each type of problem so that she can recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

She will discuss with you the best options to make significant improvements. Medications can be prescribed to prevent further hair loss and possibly regrow some of your hair. Additionally, if any diagnostic tests suggest an underlying medical problem is causing your hair loss, she will team up with other professionals in order to guarantee that you receive the proper treatment necessary for recovery.