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Alopecia & Hair Loss
If you’re noticing more and more hair clogging up your hairbrush each day or being left on your pillow each morning, just know you’re not alone. In fact, about 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from hair loss. And while losing hair is a part of life, it’s important to know when hair loss becomes abnormal, what causes it, and which treatments are effective in restoring healthy hair growth.
At Cumberland Skin Surgery and Dermatology, our team of expert dermatologists are here to answer your questions about alopecia and create a tailored hair care plan for you that will encourage your body to regrow its own hair naturally.
WHAT IS ALOPECIA?
Alopecia is a general term for hair loss or balding. There are many different types of alopecia, it can happen anywhere on the body, and it has many different causes.
There are many different causes of alopecia. Common causes of hair loss include:
- Hormone imbalances, such as thyroid disease
- Nutritional deficiencies, including anemia
- Physical stressors, such as childbirth
- Certain hair grooming practices
Alopecia can certainly be genetic. The most common form of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia (also known as male- and female-pattern baldness), is hereditary and affects both men and women.
Yes, there are many different types of alopecia. The most common forms include:
- Androgenic alopecia, also called male or female-pattern baldness, is the most common type of hair loss. This type of hair loss happens naturally as we age and is caused by an inherited gene that makes the hair follicles shrink and stop producing new hair.
- Involutional Alopecia is a form of alopecia that comes with age. As we get older, hair follicles move from the active hair growth phase into the resting phase before hair is shed, resulting in less hair that’s both shorter and finer.
- Telogen Effluvium is another common form of alopecia. It is typically caused by external stressors on the body, such as physical trauma (like childbirth), major surgery, or a serious illness. Often hair grows back once recovered from the stressor.
- Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition, which means the immune system mistakenly begins attacking the hair follicles. This often results in sudden, patchy hair loss, though it can lead to complete baldness. Fortunately, the majority of people who suffer from this form of alopecia grow their hair back within a few years.
There are a variety of ways to treat and address alopecia. Finding an effective treatment for hair loss depends on the reason behind it. For example, if hair loss is caused by an underlying disease, treatment for that disease will be necessary.
When visiting a board-certified dermatologist for hair loss treatment, he or she will first uncover the cause and then go over alopecia treatment options, which may include:
- Surgery to promote hair growth
- Laser therapy
- PRP for hair loss
- Developing a healthy hair care routine
Common signs of alopecia include hair that breaks easily, gradual thinning hair on the scalp, receding hairline, random patches of hair loss, and visually seeing more of the scalp.
Uncommon signs of alopecia include burning, tingling, or itchiness on the scalp; scales or flakes from the areas of hair loss; and issues with fingernails or toenails, such as notching or pitting.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, 50 to 100 strands of hair per day is considered normal hair shedding. Thus, a little bit of hair falling out in the shower or a few strands in a hairbrush is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about.
However, if you begin to notice a growing bald spot, have a receding hairline, or experience clumps of hair falling out, it may be time to see a board-certified dermatologist or physician for a thorough check-up.