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Hair Loss Types

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. Hair loss is most commonly due to heredity. Other causes include age, immune system dysfunction, medications, and cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation; some systemic disorders such as psoriasis; nutrient deficiencies like iron deficiency, and thyroid disease. It can also be associated with hormone imbalances, childbirth, illnesses, infections, certain hair styles, and hair care.

Your hair grows from a root inside a hair follicle. Scalp blood vessels carry nutrients to the roots to support hair growth. Hair follicles continually interact with the rest of the body through biological signals that tell the follicles when to cycle. Growth and shedding are random. The average healthy person will shed 50-100 dead hairs per day. Follicle activity and hair production also depend in part on hormone control.

What are the different types of hair loss?

Androgenetic alopecia is hereditary hair loss. It is the most common cause of hair loss in men and women, affecting 70% of men and about 30% of women or about 80 million Americans.  Male pattern baldness assumes a common pattern and typically becomes noticeable in the third decade. Female pattern baldness is diffuse thinning of the hair on the scalp and widening of the part. It typically becomes noticeable around ages 40 to 50.

Pattern hair loss is controlled by the male hormone, testosterone. Scalp hair follicles metabolize testosterone which shortens the growth phase of the hair cycle and leads to a miniaturization of the hair follicles, causing hair growth to slow and finally stop. Treatments can slow hair loss and regrow hair.

Alopecia Areata is patchy hair loss caused by immune system dysfunction. For unknown reasons, the immune system attacks healthy hair follicles and the hair falls out and does not grow back. It may appear as patchy balding or total balding. Alopecia areata can happen suddenly and may affect body hair including the eyelashes and eyebrows, as well as scalp hair. Medical treatments can help regrow hair.

Telogen effluvium is another common form of hair loss but doesn’t usually lead to baldness. Instead the hair thins usually at the crown and temples. It results as a response to stress, fever, surgery, childbirth, gastric bypass surgery, iron deficiency, some medications, oral contraceptives, and chronic thyroid disease. It often becomes noticeable three months after the event that caused it and is usually short lived, once the trigger is removed. However, Telogen effluvium can become chronic if it lasts longer than six months, and in some cases can last for years.

Hair loss can also result from ringworm, a fungal infection; another autoimmune disease; inflammatory disorders; scalp skin disease; and hair products or styling.

Women and hair loss

Millions of women struggle with thinning hair due to hormonal changes in pregnancy and menopause, stress and other conditions. Most are not good candidates for hair transplant surgery because women lose their hair all over, unlike men who lose hair on the back of the head and at the temples.

Diagnosing hair loss

During your consultation with Dr. Farhang, she will listen to your symptoms, discuss your medical and family history, and perform a complete workup, which may include blood tests. When she determines the cause of your hair loss, she will recommend treatments to treat hair loss, and restore hair growth.

Treatments options

  • OTC recommendations may include the use of dietary supplements such as Iron, Biotin, Vitamin D3, and Zinc.
  • The only FDA approved over the counter medication available to treat hair loss is Minoxidil (Rogaine®), a topical foam used once or twice a day. Regular use can regrow hair. However, you must have dormant hair follicles for this treatment to work; and if you discontinue use, your new hair will fall out.
  • Prescription Medications include Finasteride (Propecia)
  • Biologic hair growth injection therapy involves a blood draw, processing of the blood to concentrate the growth factors that will trigger natural hair growth and injecting the solution into the scalp. Three treatments spread over 4-6 weeks and maintenance treatments may be recommended. This therapy may be combined with other hair loss procedures or medications.

When you experience thinning hair, bald spots and a receding hairline, contact Dr. Sheila Farhang in Tucson, Arizona. She understands hair loss and has the skills and expertise to diagnose your problem and provide effective solutions. Her goal is to help you look your best. Contact Dr. Farhang to schedule a consultation to receive the correct diagnosis and learn about all your treatment options.