Hair Loss

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Hair loss, known scientifically as alopecia, can be the result of a wide range of causes. Cicatricial alopecia refers to hair loss that occurs after the hair follicles are damaged, either through inflammation, or by physical means. This damage is permanent and creates scar tissue within the site of hair production, preventing any hair in the future from growing. Noncicatricial hair loss, however, leaves the hair follicle undamaged, suggesting that regrowth of the hair is possible in the future.

Characteristics of Excessive Hair Loss

Hair shedding is a normal part of the growth and development cycle of hair. Usually a hair follicle goes through a period of growth, shedding, and resting. You should not feel distressed if you find some hair falling out. If you have long hair, it may seem that the quantity of hair shed may be excessive; however, excessive hair loss is the loss of 100 or more strands of hair per day.

Evidence of hair loss may be found through the following:

  • Hair loss when you run your fingers through your hair
  • Hair loss when combing hair
  • Hair in the shower drain after washing your hair
  • Hair in many strands on your pillow
  • Decrease in volume of hair
  • Visible patches of scalp
  • Causes of Noncicatricial Hair Loss

  • Scalp ringworm
  • Androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness)
  • Alopecia areata (spot baldness)
  • Medications such as warfarin, heparin, propiltiouracila, carbimazol, vitamin A, isotretinoin, acitretin, lithium, beta blockers, colchicine, amphetamines and cancer drugs
  • Stress
  • Postpartum hormonal reaction
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Dietary deficiency in protein, iron, zinc, and biotin
  • Causes of Cicatricial Hair Loss

  • Traumatic alopecia, like through braids or tight hairstyles
  • Lupus
  • Lichen planus
  • Linear scleroderma
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Cutaneous metastases
  • Diagnosis of Hair Loss

    The individual may be able to assess if his/her hair loss is normal or excessive, but to confirm the diagnosis of excessive hair loss, a consultation with a dermatologist is recommended. A dermatologist can order tests that may reveal the cause of the hair loss, and indicate the most appropriate treatment.

    When is Hair Loss Normal?

    Men: Hair loss is normal in men 45 years of age or older who have a genetic predisposition for balding.

    Women:  During pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding

    Treatments for Hair Loss

    There are various types of treatments for hair loss. Deciding which to adhere to will depend on the cause. Your dermatologist will help you treat hair loss according to the condition that caused it.

    When hair loss is caused by diseases, imbalances, or deficiencies, once the condition is corrected, it should grow back, provided that there isn’t any scarring within the follicles. Drug treatments that may have caused hair loss may be discontinued when safe to do so, allowing for the hair to return. Iron-rich foods such as meat and eggs, as well as zinc supplements, may also facilitate hair growth.

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