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Hair loss

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Hair loss is a more common condition than many patients realize. Hair loss can happen to men or women, and sometimes even teenagers and children. Hair loss refers to a higher than average rate of hair loss that leaves more of the scalp visible than before. It is normal to lose a percentage of hair daily without any ill effects.

HAIR LOSS SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of hair loss include finding thinning patches of hair throughout the head, excessive hair left behind in the sink, shower drain, and combs and brushes. While there are typical places on the head where hair loss becomes evident initially, hair loss can start from anywhere on the head. While it is most common to lose only scalp hair, it is possible to lose body hair as well. There are typically 2 variations of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata. Androgenetic alopecia can cause hair loss in adults and teens. Alopecia areata can be either permanent or temporary.

It is common knowledge that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments typically lose their hair, but once treatment has ceased the hair returns. Most people do not understand why they may lose their hair otherwise. When hair on the head grows, it grows in at a two to six year growth stage.
Hair
Image: Hair

HAIR LOSS CAUSES

When the end of the growth stage has been reached, the hair rests for two or three months before it falls out. A new hair follicle begins to grow in its place almost immediately. While it is likely for the average person to lose anywhere for 50 to 150 scalp hairs every day, baldness begins to occur when the hairs falling out are not being replaced by new hairs or the new hairs are significantly thinner than the hairs which are falling out.

Heredity plays a huge role in hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia hair loss is associated with family patterns of balding. Hair loss histories can determine not only the rate, but also the age of hair loss and whether complete baldness is likely. A brother and sister are at equal likelihood to be genetically affected by Androgenetic alopecia hair loss regardless of whether their mother or father had this type of hair loss. Alopecia areata can be equally as genetic, but this type of hair loss has been classified as an autoimmune disease and requires a trigger such as environmental factors or illness before hair loss will begin.

HAIR LOSS RISK FACTOR

There are some dramatic differences of opinion in the medical community when it comes to risk factors for hair loss. Some believe that genetics are solely responsible for hair loss while others believe that over-styling and over stressing the hair can contribute to hair loss. Bleaching, curling, and straightening hair is stressful to the hair and can lead to damage, but many researchers believe that this only affects the hair strand and not the follicle or rate of replacement hair growth. Poor nutrition, surgeries, diseases, high fevers, scalp infections, and childbirth can all contribute to hair loss, although most of the hair loss that happens under these circumstances is temporary.
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Image: Hair loss

HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing hair loss is a simple a relative case of asking your physician (although most people ask their hair stylist) if the hair loss a patient believes he or she is noticing is real or imaginary. Sometimes people believe they are losing their hair as the weight if the hair pulls the part farther and reveals more scalp.

HAIR LOSS TREATMENT

Hair loss can be treated. Without treatment hair loss typically leads to either male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, unless the hair loss is only temporary. While treating hair loss does not guarantee the cessation of hair loss, it has been proven effective for more than half of those who attempt it.


Topical medications have been proven to be fairly effective and reasonably priced treatments for hair loss. Medications such as anthralin, corticosteroids, finasteride (for men only), and minoxidil have been proven to promote new hair growth and slow down hair loss, although it is not a cure. Surgical procedures such as scalp reductions and hair transplants can be costly with mixed results. Some patients have had great success while others have been left with less than desirable results. Hair pieces and wigs are the fastest and most inexpensive treatment option for hair loss. Of course hair pieces and wigs are temporary and run the risk of falling off or restricting activity.

Coping with hair loss is a self esteem issue, especially for women. In today’s society, women are expected to present themselves with nice figures, attractive faces, and a full head of hair. Coping with hair loss can be a battle that can take years or even a lifetime to overcome, especially hair loss that begins during the adolescent and older adulthood. When hair loss is especially devastating, counseling is highly recommended.
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