Hair loss can be a frustrating and complicated issue to deal with. There are a variety of different types of hair loss. Causes of hair loss can range from stress, genetics, to underlying issues within the body. Treatments for hair loss are specific to the type of hair loss you are experiencing and can range from a simple supplement regimen to oral medications. Blood work is sometimes performed in an attempt to target the underlying cause of hair loss.
Androgenetic Alopecia (Genetic Hair Loss)
Androgenetic alopecia is also known as male and female pattern baldness or hereditary hair loss. Everyone loses hair. It is normal to lose about 50-100 hairs every day. However, if you see bald patches or lots of thinning, you may be experiencing alopecia. The most common type of alopecia is a medical condition called hereditary hair loss. There are many reasons why people experience hair loss. However, if hair loss is gradual and becomes more noticeable with each passing year, it is likely hereditary hair loss.
Several treatment options exist for androgenetic alopecia, including Rogaine (minoxidil), estrogen (for women), and various androgen-blocking agents, including Propecia (finasteride) and spironolactone (for women). Rogaine (minoxidil) is suggested for both men and women. Rogaine can also be effective in the treatment of senescent hair thinning. Propecia (finasteride), an oral prescription medication, is FDA approved to treat male pattern baldness. Propecia is currently undergoing trials for FDA approval in women.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune means that the body’s immune system attacks the body. Alopecia occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles (structures that contain the roots of the hair). A person’s genetic makeup, combined with other factors, triggers this form of hair loss. It can occur at any age; it often begins in childhood. Alopecia is not contagious. It is not due to nerves. This disease most often occurs in otherwise healthy people.
There is no cure for alopecia areata. Hair often re-grows on its own. Treatment, however, can help the hair re-grow more quickly. One or more treatments help the hair re-grow more quickly. Treatments include the use of corticosteroids, which suppress the immune system, Minoxidil, which allows hair to re-grow, Anthralin, which alters the skin’s immune function, and Diphencyprone (CPCP), which causes a small allergic reaction to trick the immune system.
Telogen effluvium is a form of nonscarring (temporary) hair loss characterized by diffused hair shedding. This type of hair loss often occurs noticed suddenly after an individual has experienced stress. Physical stress, or illness, can cause this type of hair loss, as can emotional stress.
No treatment is needed as generally, recovery is spontaneous and occurs within 6 months. Remember that the hairs fall out when a new hair growing beneath it pushes it out. Thus with this type of hair loss, hair falling out is a sign of hair regrowth. As the new hair first comes up through the scalp and pushes out the dead hair a fine fringe of new hair is often evident along the forehead hairline.
Lichen Planopilaris (LPP)
Lichen planopilaris, or scarring alopecia, is a rare inflammatory condition that results in progressive, permanent hair loss. This occurs most often on the scalp. LPP usually affects young adult women, although the age range is wide and can also affect men. Although LPP is rare, it is one of the most common causes of scarring hair loss on the scalp. The cause of LPP is unknown.
The goals of treatment are to improve patient symptoms and to slow the progression of the disease. There is no current treatment to recover hairs that have been lost and replaced by scarring, which is why early treatment is important. Hair loss may continue even with treatment but at a slower rate. Topical and intralesional steroids and oral medications (glucocorticoids, hydroxychloroquine) are used.
Traction alopecia is hair loss due to tight pulling on the hair, such as from frequently wearing your hair in a tight ponytail or braid. It is very common in African American women and in those who wear hair weaves.
Unfortunately once the hair is lost, there is no treatment to regrow it. To prevent further loss, you should not wear your hair in a tight hairstyle. Instead, you should wear your hair naturally or in loose braids or a loose ponytail. It is also important to change your hairstyle frequently so as to not cause hair loss in one particular area. Do not wear a hair weave to cover up the hair loss as this can actually worsen the hair loss.
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