How Is Alopecia Areata Treated
For many people, hair grows back without any type of treatment.
The main goal of treatment is to stop the immune system attack on hair follicles and to help hair grow back. While there are no drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for alopecia areata, medications that have been approved for other conditions may be used to treat it.
Alopecia areata is treated by:
- Dermatologists, who specialize in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.
Other specialists who may be involved in your care include:
- Mental health professionals, who can help with the psychosocial challenges caused by having a medical condition.
- Primary care doctors, such as family physicians or internal medicine specialists, who coordinate care between the different health providers and treat other problems as they arise.
Tress Stress Sign : Youre Skipping Stress
If youve been skipping your workouts or daily walks lately, you might find yourself having increased hair shedding, which could be linked with the effects of stress on the body.
Exercise helps alleviate anxiety, reduce stress and improve overall physical health, including hair wellness. Aside from those heart-healthy exercise endorphins, movement increases oxygen-rich blood circulation and nutrients throughout your body, including the skin and scalp. Reap the mind and body benefits of exercise by making regular movement a part of your daily routine.
If you dont prefer high-intensity activities, try pilates or yoga. Hiking is also an option being outdoors in nature is good for the mind, body and spirit.
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Menopausal Hair Loss: Is It Reversible
Menopause is a time of extreme hormonal changes that typically occurs around the late 40s and early 50s. After menopause, many different physical symptoms can appear, including menopausal hair loss. These symptoms can also include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.
Many people want to know if hormonal hair loss can be reversed. The answer is yes! Fortunately, unlike genetic hair loss, most hair loss caused by hormonal imbalances is reversible.
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What The Doctor Does
Doctors first ask questions about the person’s symptoms and medical history and then do a physical examination. What doctors find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause of the hair loss and the tests that may need to be done.
Doctors ask about the hair loss:
Whether hair loss began gradually or suddenly
How long it has been present
Whether hair loss is increasing
Whether hair is being lost over the entire head or in one specific area
They note other symptoms such as itching and scaling. They ask about hair care, including whether braids, rollers, and hair dryers are used and whether the hair is routinely pulled or twisted.
Doctors ask whether the person has been recently exposed to drugs, toxins, or radiation or has experienced significant stress . The person is asked about other characteristics that may suggest a cause, including dramatic weight loss, dietary practices , and obsessive-compulsive behavior Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are recurring, persistent, unwanted, anxiety-provoking, intrusive ideas, images, or urges. Compulsions… read more . Current and recent drug use is reviewed. The person is asked whether any family member has had hair loss.
Causes Of Sudden And Rapid Hair Loss
Now that you understand how hair grows and what happens when it falls out, lets explore some of the possible causes of sudden and rapid hair loss:
1. Medical Conditions
If you suddenly go from a full head of hair to rapid thinning, its possible that theres a medical condition to blame. For example, an overactive or underactive thyroid can lead to hair loss. Likewise, chronic or inflammatory disorders, chronic infections, and/or autoimmune diseases can cause diffuse telogen hair loss.
In other situations, certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to hair loss. This is especially common when people go on crash diets and dont consume adequate amounts of protein, zinc, iron, fatty acids, or vitamin D.
Certain medications can cause sudden hair loss. This is most commonly seen in anticancer drugs and/or chemotherapy treatments. Hair loss is typically noticeable within a week and becomes total and widespread by month number two.
In addition to chemotherapeutic drugs, medications that can sometimes cause hair loss include warfarin, steroids, birth control pills, lithium, amphetamines and vitamin A supplements, though hair will most often grow back when the offending medication is stopped, The New York Times explains. If youve recently started on a new medication and you notice hair loss during this period, consult with your doctor to see if there is an alternative option available.
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A Stressful Life Event
Out of nowhere, you notice a lot of hair falling out. You see it on your pillow, on the floor, on your clothes, and stuck in the shower drain. Hair seems to come out so easily, youre afraid to brush it. The medical term for this is telogen effluvium.
During a telogen effluvium, it might feel like you are going to go bald. Rest assured you wont. Telogen effluvium is a response to stress. Excess hair shedding starts 2 to 3 months after a stressful physical or emotional event and peaks about 4 to 5 months later. Over time, your body readjusts and the hair gradually stops falling out. Within 6 to 9 months, things go back to normal.
Stressful life events like losing a loved one, going through surgery, or being diagnosed with a serious illness can all increase your risk for hair loss. But hair loss itself can be stressful, too, which can lead to a vicious cycle. Remember: Telogen effluvium is temporary you will not go bald from it, and your hair will come back. In most cases, no treatment is necessary.
What Are The Types Of Hair Loss
There are three: anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium and FPHL.
- Anagen effluvium: This is caused by medications that poison a growing hair follicle .
- Telogen effluvium: This is caused by an increased number of hair follicles reaching the telogen phase, which is the stage where hair falls out.
- Androgenetic alopecia/female pattern alopecia/female pattern hair loss /baldness: This type is the most common. Hair thins over the top of the head and on the sides.
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Can I Prevent Abnormal Hair Loss
Most types of hair loss cant be prevented. However, there are a few things you can do that may help keep your hair healthy and strong for longer, including to avoid:
- tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns or ponytails
- twisting, rubbing or pulling your hair
- hair lotions that are heavily perfumed
- excessive heat treatments
- undue exposure to ultra-violet light from the sun or sunbeds, which expose you to higher levels of UV radiation than the sun.
Other useful actions to take involve stopping smoking. as well as having a balanced diet. This should include eggs, berries, avocados and nuts all are thought to help healthy hair grow, along with Vitamins A and C, biotin and, in some cases, vitamin B12.
What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause
During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.
During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.
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Key Points About Alopecia
Male-pattern and female-pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss.
Doctors look for an underlying disorder in women with signs of virilization.
Microscopic hair examination or scalp biopsy may be required to determine the reason for the hair loss.
Doctors treat the specific cause of hair loss when possible otherwise, treatments for male-pattern and female-pattern hair loss include drugs, hair replacement, laser light therapy, and injections of platelet-rich plasma.
You’ve Been Super Stressed Or Ill
Stress or illness can cause hair lossit’s a process known as telogen effluvium, or the excessive shedding of hair induced by stress, Michelle Henry, MD, a dermatologist based in New York, previously told Health.
“Our bodies perceive mental stress the same way it perceives physical stress, and any dramatic stressor on the body can cause hair growth to become arrested,” Dr. Henry said. “And when hair growth is arrested, it sheds.” Specifically, when the body is stressed it released the hormone cortisol, which can then affect the hair follicle and result in shedding or hair loss. That shedding typically occurs at least three months following a stressful event, Angelo Landriscina, MD, a Washington, DC-based dermatologist, previously told Health.
Of course, preventing stress is the easiest way to help prevent stress-induced hair lossbut that’s not always an easy thing to do. If you experience hair loss of any kind, it’s wise to check in with your dermatologist. Should they determine that your hair loss is stress-related, your derm may recommend a treatment called minoxidil, a vasodilator that improves circulation around the hair bulb at the base of the hair follicle, to help grow hair back that you’ve lost. Also important: having patience and allowing time for hair growth.
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What Questions Might Your Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose And Categorize Your Hair Loss
Your healthcare provider might ask about your habits:
- What kinds of hair products do you use?
- What kinds of hair styles do you wear?
- What types of food do you eat ?
- Do you have a habit of pulling your hair out ?
They might ask about your history:
- Has anyone in your immediate family experienced hair loss?
- Is there anything stressful going on in your life?
- What medications and supplements do you take every day?
- Has hair loss ever happened to you before?
- What foods are in your diet?
And, they might ask about your observations:
- How long have you been losing hair?
- Have you been shedding more?
- Have you noticed hair loss in places other than your scalp, like your eyebrows? Leg and arm hair?
- Does anything worsen your hair loss?
- Does anything improve your hair loss?
- Have you noticed hair loss occasionally or has it been going on continuously?
- Have you noticed if your hair growth has changed?
- Has your hair been breaking more often?
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.
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Note Your Family History
Female pattern hair loss is genetic, so your first step should be to look to other family members to see if their hair has thinned. On the flipside, if youre experiencing rapid hair loss and have no family history of hair loss, it would be best to check with your doctor to help understand what could be causing it.
You Have High Blood Pressure Or High Cholesterol And You’re Taking Medication For It
Medications for lowering cholesterol like simvastatin and atorvastatin often come with hair loss as a side effect, according to Dr. Shapiro. The chances of this are rare, with just 1% of people who take statin-based medications reporting hair loss, according to Harvard Medical School.
Blood pressure medications that are also beta blockers have been known to cause hair loss, although doctors are still unsure about the exact mechanism at play.
It’s up to you and your healthcare provider to weigh the options before stopping or starting a medication that could be potentially related to hair loss.
“People have to see their doctors to determine if is medicine-related, then they may want to stop, but other times they may not,” Dr. Shapiro said.
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You Lost A Lot Of Weight Very Quickly
Sudden weight loss is a form of physical trauma that can result in thinning hair. This could happen even if the weight loss is ultimately good for you. It’s possible that the weight loss itself put unnecessary stress your body, or that not eating right can resulted in vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Loss of hair along with noticeable weight loss may also be a sign of an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
This type of hair loss, too, will correct itself once after a while. “Sudden weight loss seems to shock the system and you’ll have a six-month period of hair loss and then it corrects itself,” says Dr. Hammonds.
Prevention For Hair Loss
While most hair loss and baldness are caused by genetics, there are a few ways to avoid and fight preventable types of hair loss. Some include:
- Being more gentle with your hair. Avoid tugging when brushing or combing your hair, especially when your hair is wet. A comb with wide teeth can help prevent pulling out hair. Avoid using harsh treatments for your hair and limit the tension that may come from certain styles.
- Talk to your doctor about medications and supplements you may be taking that could be causing your hair loss.
- Protect your hair from harsh sunlight or UV damage and other intense sources of ultraviolet light.
- Stop smoking. There are several studies showing an association between smoking and baldness.
- Eating foods that contain vitamin A, B, C, D, and E can help with hair growth. Iron, zinc, and protein are also linked to helping improve the strength of your hair.
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