Throughout August and September, hair loss also known medically as alopecia is recognized. September is Alopecia Awareness Month, an excellent opportunity to talk about the causes of alopecia and the available treatment options. There are many different types of alopecia which can affect men, women, and children of any age. The causes are often multifactorial and complex and can be influenced by genetics, stress, diet, trauma, grooming practices, and medications.
At Tone Dermatology, we recognize the multi-faceted nature of alopecia and know how to find the customized treatment that will get you started on your hair regrowth journey. Below, we have summarized the key facts about hair loss and the corresponding treatment options. Let’s get started!
Alopecia and Hair Loss Awareness: What You Need to Know
Just because August and September are Hair Loss and Alopecia Awareness Months doesn’t mean people are not affected by hair loss daily. For example, research shows over 80 million Americans suffer from alopecia, and 40% of these are women. But what is alopecia exactly?
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is simply a scientific term for “hair loss.” The condition can affect your scalp or other areas of your body, which can be either temporary or permanent. While more prevalent in men, nobody is immune from experiencing hair loss at some point in their lives. The good news is that there are treatment options, but the first step on your recovery journey involves getting the diagnosis right.
What Causes Alopecia?
A healthy person loses anywhere between 50 and 100 hairs per day. Usually, we don’t even notice this hair loss, as new hair is growing simultaneously. However, alopecia occurs when new hair fails to replace the hair that has fallen out for one of the following reasons:
- Heredity: Most commonly, hair loss occurs with aging and tends to run in families. This type of hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia and occurs slowly in predictable patterns, such as a receding hairline in men and thinning hair along the crown in women.
- Stress: You may notice the general thinning of hair several months after a highly stressful event accompanied by physical or emotional shock. Luckily, stress-related alopecia tends to resolve on its own over time.
- Grooming habits: Hairstyles that pull your hair too tight (think high ponytails and cornrows) can damage hair follicles and lead to traction alopecia over time.
- Hormonal changes and medical conditions: Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause, as well as certain medical conditions, can all lead to either permanent or temporary hair loss.
- Medications and supplements: Hair loss can be a side effect of certain medications, such as drugs used to treat heart problems, arthritis, cancer, depression, high blood pressure, and gout.
- Radiation therapy: If you lose hair due to radiation therapy, the hair tends to grow back over time – but it might not be the same as before.
Common Types of Hair Loss
At Tone Dermatology our dermatologists specialize in scalp and hair disorders and can diagnose and treat various hair loss types, regardless of the cause. Below are some of the most common conditions that we see.
Commonly known as male or female pattern hair loss, androgenetic alopecia tends to run in families. In men, androgenetic alopecia typically begins above the temples and continues to the top of the head. In women, the hairline does not usually recede but they may notice their hair gradually thinning and widening hair part. This hair loss can begin any time after puberty but typically presents with age.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
In men, androgenetic alopecia can start any time after puberty and continuously progress with age. It typically begins above the temples and continues to the top of the head. Over time, men suffering from male pattern hair loss will be left with a ring of hair along the bottom part of the scalp or become fully bald.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
In women, the hairline doesn’t usually recede – hair gradually thins out all over the scalp or along the crown. This hair loss can begin any time after puberty but typically presents as a natural part of aging.
While androgenic alopecia is genetic, don’t worry if it runs in your family! At Tone Dermatology, we offer a variety of treatments to help slow down or even reverse hair loss progression.
Certain hairstyles, such as tight braids and ponytails, can pull hair out of its follicles, causing it to fall out. This condition is referred to as “traction alopecia” and may present as bald spots or thinning hair overall.
Traction alopecia is usually temporary and resolves on its own once you move away from high-risk hairstyles. However, to speed up the process, you may undergo PRP hair loss therapy or other professional treatments at our clinic.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
This form of hair loss starts on the central scalp and can spread outward to affect other areas of the scalp. An early sign/symptom of CCCA is tenderness, tingling, burning, and / or hair breakage that is localized/focuses on the central scalp. In many cases, there are no symptoms! CCCA can be associated with uterine fibroids, diabetes, tinea capitis, seborrheic dermatitis, traction alopecia, and more. We now know that there is a genetic link related to the development of hair that can be seen more commonly in CCCA patients. At Tone, we are a big proponent of diagnosing and treating this early since progression can lead to scarring.
Stress can trigger telogen effluvium months after the event and in this case, it makes sense that the ongoing pandemic could result in TE in certain individuals. This in and of itself is not notable, as pointed A common reason for increased hair shedding is stress. When our body experiences extreme stress such as the following surgery, death of a loved one, childbirth, viral infection, or even as a result of the ongoing global pandemic itself, we can experience a large shift in our hairs from the growing phase to the shedding phase months later. This is referred to as a condition called telogen effluvium.
Alopecia areata, also known as “spot baldness,” is a relatively common autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its healthy tissues, and hair follicles are no exception. As a result, the hair falls out of the follicles, often in small patches up to the size of a quarter. Hair in other parts of the body, including eyelashes and eyebrows, might be affected as well.
If you are diagnosed with alopecia areata, our dermatologists may prescribe you topical or oral medications to help the hair regrow.
Put a Stop to Hair Loss with Tone Dermatology
Understanding these conditions is the first step to winning the battle. At Tone Dermatology, we know that the secret to successful hair loss treatment lies in finding the root cause and addressing the cause and the consequences simultaneously.
Science has come a long way in treating alopecia, and our professionals stay up to date with the latest medical advances and hair loss treatments. Ready to put a stop to hair loss? Book an appointment today!