Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can be an extreme source of frustration and embarrassment. There are numerous causes of hair loss. Some can be due to an underlying medical issue, and some are just part of normal life primarily due to our genetics. At Treasure Valley Dermatology, we strive to do everything we can to help you look your best, including treatment of hair loss.
Common Causes of Hair Loss
Alopecia areata happens when your own body’s immune system starts to attack hair follicles. The hair loss typically appears as a few small, round patches of hair loss. Occasionally it can become more widespread and cover larger areas of the body. Alopecia areata is seen in patients of all ages. Although it can be quite concerning to patients, it isn’t a sign of any underlying medical disease. Fortunately, most patients will regrow their hair even without intervention. Treatment options are available including application of topical steroids, steroid injections, and oral medications.
Male or Female Pattern Hair Loss
This type of hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss we see. Males tend to lose hair at the frontal hairline and vertex of the scalp. Women tend to have a more diffuse hair loss leading to an overall thinning of the hair and widening of the part. Genetics play a major role in development of this type of hair loss. There are several options for treatment including Rogaine (minoxidil), oral medications including Propecia (finasteride) or spironolactone, hair transplants, and even newer treatments such as injections of your own stem cells (PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma) to stimulate hair growth.
The average person loses 50-100 hairs a day, but under certain circumstances this number can rise significantly leading to a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. This common form of hair loss typically occurs after a major medical stressor such as giving birth or undergoing surgery. It can also be due to high amounts of stress. It typically begins a few months after the stressful event. Fortunately, this condition tends to resolve with full regrowth of hair after the stressor has been eliminated. This condition is typically diagnosed by taking a thorough medical history and performing in office tests such as a hair pull test. Treatment options can include application of Rogaine (minoxidil) and occasionally oral medications to help speed up resolution.
Hair loss due to an underlying medical issue
Numerous other health related issues including thyroid disease, iron deficiency, anemia, and autoimmune diseases can lead to hair loss. This type of diagnosis is typically made only after a thorough medical history and physical exam. Occasionally labs and possibly a skin biopsy are required to make the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been established treatment options may include application of topical or oral medications to address the underlying medical issue. Regrowth of hair is usually possible after proper diagnosis and treatment.