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Understanding the Different Types of Hair Loss

Understanding the Different Types of Hair Loss

On a good day, a healthy person loses about 50-100 strands of hair. These may end up on your brush or comb, or they may shed onto your clothing or your environment. Your hair follicles release these strands at the end of their growth phase, so they can start producing new strands.

If you have alopecia — an umbrella term for hair loss or baldness — you lose significantly more than 50-100 daily strands, and your follicles don’t grow them back.

More than 60% of men have significant hair loss by age 50. By age 80, that jumps to 70%. Women, too, lose their hair, especially after age 40. About 50% of women experience hair loss during their lifetime.

At Specialists in Dermatology, our expert dermatologists help you hold onto hair you have and regrow the hair you’ve lost. At our offices in The Woodlands, Texas, and Houston, Texas, the treatments we prescribe for hair loss depend on the type of hair loss you have.

What are the main types of hair loss and how are they best reversed? Below is a brief guide to help you understand why you’re losing your hair.

Male pattern baldness

The most common type of hair loss, and the type that we most often associate with “being bald,” is hereditary male-pattern baldness. Men can start to see a receding hairline and thinning on their scalp even as early as in their teenage years. Male-pattern baldness is associated with:

Without treatment, men may lose all the hair on the tops of their heads. The typical “horseshoe” pattern you see in older men, with hair growing just on the sides, is the result of male-pattern baldness.

How we treat

We recommend topical minoxidil or oral finasteride for male pattern baldness. You must apply minoxidil to your scalp every day to maintain growth. 

Finasteride blocks an androgen (male hormone) that prevents your scalp from growing new hairs. A bonus is that finasteride also treats benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which also affects aging men.

We also now offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for all types of hair loss. With PRP, we simply withdraw a small amount of your own blood from your arm, then spin it in a sterile centrifuge to isolate the healing platelets.

We mix your concentrated platelets with a little plasma (i.e., the liquid portion of your blood), and then inject areas of hair loss. The PRP heals your follicles so that they can regrow hair. 

Female pattern baldness

Especially as they age or if they have a hormonal imbalance, such as that caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), women may lose hairs all over their scalp. They may notice an increase in the number of hairs in their brush or comb, or be disturbed by shedding on their clothes, furniture, or floor. 

 

Some women exhibit a pattern similar to male-pattern baldness, with a receding hairline. However, most either exhibit a widened part in their hair or just have diffused, evenly dispersed hair loss.

How we treat

As with male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness responds to topical minoxidil. You must apply daily for life to maintain your hair regrowth. Oral spironolactone stimulates hair regrowth. Older women could also benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). 

We also treat female pattern baldness with PRP. In some instances, you can combine PRP with HRT. The PRP works with your body to rebuild hair follicles and stimulate hair regrowth.

Telogen effluvium

Stress may make you feel like tearing your hair out, but if you’re under enough stress it just may fall out on its own. Telogen effluvium is a common cause of hair loss that usually occurs two to three months after a major stressor, such as an illness, surgery, or an infection. Sometimes, emotional stress triggers telogen effluvium, too.
Most of the time, your hair grows back once the stressor is removed or has stopped. We may also conduct blood tests to rule out several potential causes of telogen effluvium, such as unbalanced hormones, nutritional deficiencies, or medication reaction.

If your hair loss doesn’t resolve on its own, we may recommend PRP therapy. PRP helps your scalp repair follicular damage and regrow hairs.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia means bald, and areata means patchy. If you’re experiencing patches of hair loss over your scalp and body, you may have alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is considered an autoimmune disease. Your immune system, for reasons unknown, attacks your healthy follicles, causing hair loss. Alopecia may be caused by a combination of:

You may lose just patches of your hair in alopecia areata (i.e., patchy type), or all your scalp hair (i.e., alopecia totalis). You may also lose all of the hair on your body and face, including eyelashes and eyebrows (i.e., alopecia universalis).

How we treat

To quell inflammation caused by your overactive immune system, we may prescribe corticosteroid injections, topical steroids, or topical immunomodulators. In addition, we may recommend PRP injections to repair your follicles and reduce the inflammation that caused hair loss.

Find out why you’re losing your hair and how to treat it by scheduling an alopecia consultation today. Call our office, or use our convenient online contact form.

 

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