We tackled getting rid of unwanted hair on Tuesday (read our previous blog post on shaving), but now we’ll talk about the hair you want to keep! There are a few hair topics that men often ask about, but the main one is hair loss.Losing hairs is not unusual; the average person loses 50-100 hairs per day. The concern comes when you notice patches of bald spots or a lot of thinning. What causes hair loss? There are a few common causes of hair loss:
- Heredity: Hereditary thinning or balding (“androgenetic alopecia”) is the most common type of hair loss, affecting approximately 80 million people in the US alone. In men, this cause typically manifests itself as a receding hairline or bald patches, esp. on the top of the head.
- Medical conditions, illnesses & treatments: several medical conditions & illnesses can cause hair loss, including thyroid disease, chemotherapy anemia, high fever, and severe infection. People who have been under anesthesia (from a surgery or other procedure) may also experience hair loss.
- Hormones: hair loss is commonly associated with giving birth, menopause and high levels of stress
- Medications: certain medications, including high-dose vitamin A and blood thinners may cause hair loss
***For a full list of causes, visit the AAD website here: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hair-loss/who-gets-causes **
When should you see a dermatologist?
With many of the causes, hair can start to re-grow once your body has healed and/or adjusted to the original cause (i.e. a few months after you have been under anesthesia or experienced a very stressful event, such as a death in the family) or if you change your diet (see the AAD website for nutrient deficiencies that lead to hair loss). Please take the time to look over that link above to see the different causes. If you are concerned about your hair loss, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. Your dermatologist will ask you about your recent medical history and medications to see if either factors into your hair loss. Let him or her know if the hair loss has been gradual or was more sudden, and if you have any similar baldness or hair thinning in your family history. The dermatologist will then examine your hair & scalp to look for or rule out certain causes. In some cases, he or she may recommend a biopsy or lab work. In many cases, this is not covered by insurance, just so that you are aware.
What happens next depends on your diagnosis. If the hair loss is a result of problem related to the scalp or hair itself (vs. a condition like those mentioned above that may concern another area of the body but manifests itself in hair loss), your dermatologist may prescribe certain medications that can help to slow the hair loss and/or stimulate hair re-growth. There is not a medication that will 100% reverse or stop hair loss, but the medications currently available have been shown help the majority of patients. If you have experienced large amounts of hair loss and it is very troublesome for you, then you may want to look into a procedure such as hair transplantation or scalp flaps.
Any words of wisdom?
There are 6 tips for managing hair loss concerns
- Take care of your hair & your health. For many people, it may be as easy as this. Don’t over-wash your hair. Pat your hair dry (vs. rubbing it with the towel). Let your hair air-dry instead of using a blow dryer. Don’t use harsh chemicals or gels on your hair. Eat a healthy diet with enough protein, biotin, and iron. Basic good hair habits can reduce breakage and also keep your hair healthy (see more tips here:http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/hair-care/stop-hair-damage)
- Don’t over shampoo your hair. This can cause loss of the protein coat which causes hair breakage & loss.
- Use a good conditioner. This helps maintain a healthy protein coat on the hair.
- If a side-effect of one of your medications is hair loss, do NOT stop taking it. Make an appointment to go see the prescribing physician and tell him or her about your hair loss concerns. There may be an alternate medication that won’t cause hair loss while still protecting you from your other medical condition.
- Relax, it may be temporary! As described above, sometimes hair loss is due to specific short-term events/conditions, so the hair may re-grow.
- See a dermatologist if you are still concerned.