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What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss occurs when a person experiences unexpected, significant loss of hair. Generally, humans shed 50-100 single hairs per day. This rate of hair shedding is part of a natural balance of the hair growth cycle when some hairs fall out while others grow in their place. If this balance becomes interrupted and more hair falls out than grows, hair loss occurs. Hair loss can range from mild hair thinning to complete baldness. This can happen for many different reasons and happen all at once or gradually and over time. It’s even possible for a person to have more than one hair-loss condition simultaneously. Medically, hair loss may fall into several categories. Final evaluation is required to determine the cause and possible treatment.

What causes Hair Loss?

There is a wide range of hair loss causes. Hair loss can be caused by many factors, which can determine whether your hair falls out gradually or abruptly, thins, can regrow on its own, requires treatment to regrow, or needs immediate clinical care to prevent the hair loss from becoming permanent. Some causes of hair loss may include the following.

  • Hormonal Changes
  • Hereditary Hair Shaft Abnormalities
  • Acquired Hair Shaft Abnormalities
  • Age-Related Changes to Hair Growth
  • Skin Disease and Health Conditions
  • Certain Drugs and Medications
  • Burns And Traumatic Injuries
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Cosmetic Procedures
  • Certain Medical Conditions
  • Poor Diet and High Stress

What are the types of Hair Loss?

Hair loss may be linked to a person’s genetics, but different medical and behavioral factors may likewise interrupt the hair growth cycle and cause hair loss. At Sunshine State Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, we specialize in treating hair and scalp disorders, identifying the type of hair loss and its cause to determine the best treatment. There are many types of hair loss, including the following.

Androgenetic alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss, also known as male or female pattern baldness. It is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors and typically results in a receding hairline and thinning on the crown of the head.

Alopecia areata: This type of hair loss is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out in small, round patches. It can occur at any age and can progress to total hair loss on the scalp or body.

Telogen effluvium: This type of hair loss occurs when a large number of hair follicles on the scalp enter the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, causing hair to fall out all over the scalp without new hair growth. It is often triggered by stress, illness, or hormonal changes.

Traction alopecia: This type of hair loss is caused by prolonged tension on the hair follicles, often due to hairstyles that pull on the hair such as tight braids or ponytails. It can be prevented by avoiding tight hairstyles and allowing the hair to rest between styling.

Scarring alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs when inflammation damages the hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss and scarring on the scalp.

There are other less common types of hair loss as well, and it is important to talk to a dermatologist if you are experiencing excessive hair loss or thinning. They can help determine the cause and recommend appropriate treatment options

Who Gets Hair Loss?

Humans’ hair follicles are all formed during their fetal growth stages. As such, it is inevitable that with age and over time, we all will notice some degree of hair loss later in life. Hair loss can affect males and females, children and adults, and individuals with any hair color and any type of hair. Hair loss can occur quickly or slowly and in stages, and the hair may fall out all at once or strand by strand. Hair loss can be an isolated issue, or a condition associated with another disease or condition. The effects of hair loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause of the hair loss.

How Does Hair Grow?

Hair grows on almost all humans’ skin surfaces, excluding the hands, soles of the feet, lips, and eyelids. Hair that is light, fine, and short is known as vellus hair, while thicker, darker, and longer hair is known as terminal or androgenic hair. The hair goes through three cycles of growth: the anagen phase, the catagen phase, and the telogen phase.

  • Anagen phase. The anagen phase, or growing phase, can last from 2–8 years. This phase generally refers to the vast majority of hair that grows on the head.
  • Catagen phase. The catagen phase, or the transition phase, occurs when the hair follicles shrink. This phase takes approximately 2–3 weeks.
  • Telogen phase. The telogen phase, or the resting phase, takes about  2–4 months. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out, and the regrowth process begins.

After the telogen phase, the next anagen phase begins as new hair grows in the same follicle. Hairs like eyelash hairs, arm hairs, leg hairs, and eyebrow hairs have a short anagen phase of about one month, while hair on the scalp can last up to six years or even longer. If the natural hair cycle is disrupted, or if the hair follicle becomes damaged, then the hair may fall out more quickly than it can regenerate, leading to a receding hairline, hair falling out in patches, or overall thinning, among other symptoms of hair loss.

What is involved for treatment of Hair Loss?

In most cases, hair loss treatment depends on a patient’s diagnosis. Effective treatments for some types of hair loss are available and can help reverse hair loss or at least slow its effects. With some conditions, hair can regrow without treatment. Treatments for hair loss may include medications and surgery. If the hair loss is caused by an underlying disease, treatment for that disease is necessary to stop the effects of hair loss. If certain medications cause hair loss, your doctor may advise you to consider alternative options. With hair loss treatment, infections should be treated, deficiencies should be remedied, causative drugs may be discontinued, inflammation can be suppressed, and certain treatments may be available for those with specific hair loss conditions.

How is Hair Loss Diagnosed?

In most hair loss cases, a careful history and full physical examination from a dermatologist can generally result in the correct diagnosis of hair loss. Additional tests may be performed to confirm a diagnosis. These tests can include a hair-pull test performed to determine the relative proportion of anagen and telogen hairs, a wood lamp examination, swabs of pustules or lesions for bacterial and viral culture, skin scrapings and hair clippings for mycology, and blood tests for hematology, thyroid function, and serology.

Schedule an appointment with us at Sunshine State Dermatology so we may evaluate your hair loss and determine the correct action for you at 941-282-3376.