Different Types Of Alopecia
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss, and there are two main types: alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia. Alopecia may cause hair loss only on the scalp or all over the body. It may result in thinning hair, patches of hair loss, some balding, or total baldness, and it may be permanent or temporary. There are numerous causes, including genetics. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
What Is Alopecia Areata And How Does It Cause Hair Loss
Alopecia areata, also called patchy hair loss, is an autoimmune condition that causes your body to attack its follicles, which results in hair loss.
Instead of increased hair loss all over, this condition tends to cause round, bald patches that may eventually merge into larger bald spots . Alopecia areata affects roughly 2% of the general population .
Researchers dont fully understand what triggers alopecia areata, however, studies have found hair loss can be triggered by things like physical or emotional stress, infection, and certain drugs .
Youre also at a higher risk of developing this condition if someone in your family has experienced it before. Although it can affect children, alopecia areata usually appears in adults between ages 25 and 36 .
Theres no cure for alopecia areata, but treatments are available to help manage symptoms. In some cases, people may not require treatment at all.
Roughly half of the people who experience alopecia areata will see hair start to grow back within a year without any treatment at all . Keep in mind that relapses are possible, and hair loss can get worse before it gets better.
A healthcare provider may also recommend other treatments to stop hair loss like corticosteroid shots and topical products, which well get more into below.
Signs Of Hair Loss In Women
- Overall thinning on the top of your head. Men notice bald spots more commonly, while women will see a difference in density.
- Bald patches can be seen in some cases.
- If you have gone through emotional trauma in the recent past, you may notice your hair falling in clumps in the shower or while brushing it.
- Complete hair loss can also be seen post a few medical treatments like chemotherapy.
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What Is Hair Loss
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that 80 million men and women in America have hereditary hair loss .
It can affect just the hair on your scalp or your entire body. Although alopecia is more prevalent in older adults, excessive hair loss can occur in children as well.
Its normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. With about 100,000 hairs on your head, that small loss isnt noticeable.
New hair normally replaces the lost hair, but this doesnt always happen. Hair loss can develop gradually over years or happen abruptly. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary.
Its impossible to count the amount of hair lost on a given day. You may be losing more hair than is normal if you notice a large amount of hair in the drain after washing your hair or clumps of hair in your brush. You might also notice thinning patches of hair or baldness.
If you notice that youre losing more hair than usual, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. They can determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and suggest appropriate treatment plans.
The Relation Between Stress And The Hair Cycle
There are approximately 100,000 hair follicles on the adult scalp . Each hair follicle is constantly cycling between growth and rest. The majority of these hair follicles are in the growth phase at any given time. When the hair follicle transitions to telogen, or the resting phase, the hair is shed. During an episode of telogen effluvium, a trigger causes a sudden, abnormal shift of hairs into the telogen phase all at once. One possible trigger for this sudden shift? Significant emotional stress.
What qualifies as significant emotional stress? Think major, negative life event . While a single bad day at work shouldnt meet this threshold, severe and prolonged stress secondary to the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, could certainly qualify.
To test the relationship between substantial stress and hair loss, researchers giving birth can also trigger an episode.
Temporary in nature
The other good news? The hair loss is temporary, and should return to itspre-effluvium density, although this process is generally slow. It can take months before the shedding stops, and then months to years for lost hair to grow back at the sluggish rate of ~½ inch per month.
In some circumstances, hair does not fully return to its normal density. For one, telogen effluvium can uncover other types of long-standing hair loss . Additionally, overall hair density is expected to slowly decrease with age, and in few , telogen effluvium can be chronic and lasts for multiple years.
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A Primer On The Hair Growth Cycle
Before we dig into some of the common causes of sudden and rapid hair loss, lets make sure were all on the same page. This starts with understanding the hair growth cycle so that you can make sense of how hair loss occurs and what can be done to overcome the issue.
In the most basic sense, the hair growth cycle consists of three major phases:
- Anagen. This is the beginning phase of the hair growth cycle. In this phase, cells divide and produce new hair. The amount of time a hair spends in the anagen phase is highly-dependent on factors like age, genetics, nutrition, and overall health, but somewhere between two to seven years is normal. During this time, hair can grow as much as 30 inches in length.
- Catagen. The second phase of the hair growth cycle is where hair actually stops growing and detaches itself from the blood supply. In this state, hair becomes known as club hair. Roughly 3 percent of all hair is in the catagen phase at a given point in time.
- Telogen. The final stage is the telogen phase. This is where new hair begins growing underneath the club hair. This process usually lasts for about three months. Then at the end of this phase, the club hair falls out and new hair grows in its place.
Hair Loss Treatment For Women: Our 8 Top Picks
If youre experiencing sudden hair loss, what are your treatment options? In general, anything that you can do to encourage healthy hair growth and maintain the hair you have will help. Preventing further breakage is particularly important. Most cases of telogen effluvium will clear up on their own as long as the stressor is removed. However, breakage from poor hair care habits will only exacerbate the situation and make hair look even thinner.
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Your Mom Lost Her Hair Too
“If you come from a family where women started to have hair loss at a certain age, then you might be more prone to it,” says Dr. Glashofer. Unlike men, women don’t tend to have a receding hairline, instead their part may widen and they may have noticeable thinning of hair. This is also known as femalepattern baldness.
Women may benefit from minoxidil to help grow hair, or at least, maintain the hair you have, Dr. Glashofer says. Rogaine is available over-the-counter and is approved for women with this type of hair loss.
How Can I Regrow Any Hair Ive Lost
You may have heard of minoxidil , which is a topical medication that can help promote hair growth.
Its available in liquid or foam form in concentrations of 2% and 5%. Researchers suggest minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to affected areas, which delivers more nutrients that encourage new hair growth. This treatment may also shorten the resting phase of hair follicles so they switch to the growth cycle sooner .
Higher concentrations of minoxidil are more effective at regrowing hair, but can also cause more side effects, which include itching and irritation at the application site . While 5% minoxidil has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in men, its not typically recommended to women as it can cause excessive hair growth. Still, a healthcare provider may decide the benefits outweigh the risks and recommend 5% minoxidilas long as youre closely monitored for side effects.
If you have telogen effluvium, products like minoxidil can encourage hair regrowth, but addressing any underlying health conditions or nutrient deficiencies is generally the best solution to the problem . A healthcare professional may suggest a healthy eating plan or supplement regimen if your hair loss is caused by a protein or iron deficiency.
If your hair has started falling out suddenly, your best bet is to talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you determine whats causing the sudden hair loss and correct any underlying issues that may be contributing.
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When To See The Doctor
People who have hair loss and signs of a bodywide disorder should see a doctor promptly. Women who have developed masculine characteristics should call their doctor to discuss how soon they should be seen. Other people should see a doctor when possible, but an appointment is not urgent unless other symptoms develop.
Chemical Hair Dyes And Hair Products
Chemical hair dyes and hair products, even shampoos, can contribute to premature hair graying. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients that decrease melanin.
Hydrogen peroxide, which is in many hair dyes, is one such harmful chemical. Excessive use of products that bleach hair will also eventually cause it to turn white.
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How Is Abnormal Hair Loss Treated
Treatment depends on the cause of your hair loss. For example, any infection will be treated. If your medicines appear to be causing your hair loss, your doctor may stop them. Hair loss caused by a medical condition will stop when you recover from that medical condition. Deficiencies of either iron or vitamin B12 can be treated by your doctor. Alopecia areata itself is usually treated with corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammation medicines. These are used as local injections, creams or tablets. A skin consultant will advise you about this treatment.
If you wish to slow or stop the progression of hair loss, there may be treatments available such as medicines or hair transplantation. The latter therapy does not have the custom generated some 30 years ago, partly because of its cost and the few practitioners of that art. There are over-the-counter products available, eg, Regaine, while doctors may prescribe minoxidil or finasteride in some cases.
Complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and ultra-violet therapy, have been promoted by some health advocates. However, the evidence does not exist that these are effective options.
You may consider wearing a wig. Your doctor will help you find a source. See also information on the wigs and hairpieces subsidy.
Reasons For Sudden Hair Loss And How You Can Get Help
Everyone experiences hair shedding, and it happens to each of us every day. Most people lose 50 to 100 hairs per day as part of this natural cycle, more on days you wash your hair. But what if you check your pillow, shower drain, or comb and it looks like youâre suddenly losing much more than that?
The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor or dermatologist. Theyâll get to the bottom of why youâre losing hair, and theyâll make sure you get the right treatment in case a medical condition is to blame.
Here are just some of the reasons you could have sudden hair loss.
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Habits & Lifestyle Changes
In some cases, you might need to make certain changes to your habits and lifestyle to stop hair loss and promote hair growth.
For example, if your hair loss is related to stress, changing your lifestyle to minimize stress and anxiety may help to improve hair growth. If youre losing your hair due to a nutritional deficiency, your healthcare providers guidance will be critically important.
While habits and lifestyle changes wont prevent male pattern baldness, some habits, such as using a hair loss prevention shampoo and avoiding hair care products with harsh or damaging ingredients, may be helpful for promoting hair growth.
Causes Of Sudden Female Hair Loss
There are many reasons why individuals may lose their hair. For men it maybe due to heridity or old age.For women, the same reasons listed above can apply for their own personal hair loss in addition to other reasons. Some of those reasons can include changes in hormone balance, medicaton, diseases, etc.
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Find Out Your Level Of Risk For Hair Loss
If you have a family history of hereditary-pattern baldness and youre concerned that you might also inherit the condition, Kean Health can put your worries at ease. Order our Gene test today to find out whether you are likely to develop hair loss at some point in life. Simply provide a small saliva sample, and we will tell you whether or not you are at risk of balding based on your DNA.
What Causes Excessive Hair Loss
A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.
Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treating your thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.
Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after theyve had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.
Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners medicines used for gout, high blood pressure, or heart problems vitamin A birth control pills and antidepressants.
Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in adults and children. The infection is treated with antifungal medicines.
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