Hair has an important social and emotional significance and impacts our perception of beauty. We are born with about five million hair follicles, and that is all we will ever have. Hair loss whether temporary or permanent has a significant impact on our self-esteem and self-image.
Hair grows from its roots in the hair follicles. Biological signals control the hair growth cycle. A complete cycle lasts from 2-8 years. Healthy people typically shed 100 hairs per day, and the hair regrows. Hair growth regardless of sex is determined by the presence of male hormones called androgens, in combination with thyroid hormones and female hormones.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or balding. It can be caused by heredity, hormones, immune system dysfunction, emotional stress, shock, certain medications, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and traction from certain hair treatments and styles. Hair loss can also result from underlying disease conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, digestive disorders, and poor nutrition. Additionally, patches of hair loss on the scalp and body can result from a fungal skin infection called ringworm. Treatment options depend upon the cause of hair loss.
What are the types of alopecia?
The most common type of hair loss is Androgenetic alopecia, hereditary hair loss. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that about 30 million women and 50 million men have in the U.S. suffer with hereditary hair loss. It can begin as early as the teens in men, and by age 50 more than 50% of men have some degree of hair loss. Women typically suffer hair loss during and after menopause.
Androgenetic alopecia is called pattern hair loss because it follows a common balding pattern. In men the pattern is an M shape. Hair thins and recedes at the temples; the crown hair thins and eventually the crown becomes bald. In women, pattern hair loss is characterized initially by a widening of the part followed by diffuse thinning all over the scalp.
Pattern hair loss is genetically predetermined, caused by male hormones called androgens, particularly DHT. Testosterone is metabolized by the hair follicles shortening the growth phase of the hair cycle. This leads to miniaturization of the hair follicles, which slows and eventually stops hair growth. The goal of treatment is to block the effects of testosterone. restore the health of the hair follicles.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune skin disease where the body attacks its own hair follicles on the scalp, face and body. It is characterized by round patches of hair loss, can develop quickly and requires medical attention. Alopecia areata affects about 6.8 million Americans of all ages, sexes and ethnic origins. It frequently begins in childhood or adolescence. The hair may regrow on its own, usually when only a few patches exist. Regrown hair may fall out or not. However, when there is widespread hair loss or complete balding most often the loss is permanent. Alopecia areata is not curable, but some treatments can help the hair to regrow.
Telogen effluvium is another form of hair loss that results from stress, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, gastric bypass surgery, iron deficiency and thyroid disease. When the underlying condition is identified and treated, hair will regrow.
Men in their early twenties often experience the beginning of pattern hair loss. There are many treatments available to forestall the damage, however, once there is a complete loss of hair, it is irreversible because the follicles so badly damaged that no treatments can review the follicles.
Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to saving your crowning glory. When you find you are losing your hair, schedule a consultation with Dr. Camp at Lucent Dermatology in Beachwood, Ohio. At Lucent Dermatology you can count on receiving the correct diagnosis and the best treatment options for you.