Hair Loss - Treatment and Prescriptions

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss is a general term for a variety of diseases that dermatologists can treat. It isn’t usually physically harmful, but it can cause emotional and social discomfort in daily life. Androgenic areata, telogen effluvium, and alopecia areata are the most common types of hair loss in a broader set of causes for hair loss including:
  • Alopecia areata
  • Alopecia totalis
  • Alopecia universalis
  • Androgenetic Alopecia
  • Cicatricial Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia)
  • Involutional Alopecia
  • Traction Alopecia
  • Anagen Effluvium
  • Telogen Effluvium
  • Tinea Capitis

Photos


Alopecia Areata is a sudden hair loss that has circular patches that can overlap.  This image shows a man with a patch missing from his scalp. Alopecia Areata is a sudden hair loss that has circular patches that can overlap.  If your hair loss begins at the temples or the crown of the head, you may have male pattern baldness Hair Loss affects males and women. Loss of hair or thinning to the top of the scalp. Hair Loss in middle-aged man in the back of the head.

Symptoms

Hair loss varies from simply losing a patch of hair to losing hair all over your body. A dermatologist could tell what type of hair loss a patient has simply by looking at the pattern of hair loss and the included symptoms. Here are the symptoms that the different types of hair loss could express:
  • Alopecia Areata – one or more small, circular patches anywhere on the body, but usually on the scalp
  • Alopecia Totalis – complete hair loss on scalp
  • Alopecia Universalis – complete hair loss all over body
  • Androgenetic Alopecia – known as male or female pattern baldness
  • Male Pattern Baldness – hairline recedes to an M formation
  • Female Pattern Hair Loss – hair thins all over the head
  • Cicatricial Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia) – hair is lost due to a skin disorder, the area in which it’s lost doesn’t grow back or it scars
  • Involutional Alopecia – hair gradually thins with age
  • Traction Alopecia – hair loss in areas where hair has been pulled, it may be permanent
  • Anagen Effluvium – sudden shedding of a lot or all hair throughout the body
  • Telogen Effluvium – increase in the rate of hair shedding
  • Tinea Capitis – hair loss in scaly and itchy patches

Causes

With so many different ways to lose your hair, it's important to talk to a professional to determine why your hair loss occurs. Here are the causes for the types of hair loss:
  • Alopecia Areata – An autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles around the body. It's unknown why this happens. This causes hair falling out and preventing new hair growth.
  • Alopecia Totalis – An autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles on the scalp. It's unknown why this happens. This causes hair falling out and preventing new hair growth all over the scalp.
  • Alopecia Universalis – An autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles all over the body. It's unknown why this happens. This causes hair falling out and preventing new hair growth all over the body.
  • Androgenetic Alopecia – Genes interfere with normal androgen hormone related activity. This affects hair follicle growth cycles causing less, shorter, and thinning of hair.
  • Cicatricial Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia) – A large variety of bodily disorders cause permanent hair loss. They destroy hair follicles and possibly causing visible scarring.
  • Involutional Alopecia – With age, hair growth cycles give hair less time to grow and be quicker to fall out.
  • Traction Alopecia – Tension in the hair damages hair follicles and hair falls out easier.
  • Anagen Effluvium – Exposure to substances or treatments, most commonly chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Telogen Effluvium – Prolonged stress, lack of certain nutrients in diet, hormonal changes after giving birth, some drugs, physical trauma.
  • Tinea Capitis – Highly contagious ringworm fungal infection of the scalp damages hair follicles and scaly, flaky skin.

Treatment

There isn’t a cure for some hair loss diseases like alopecia areata, totalis, universalis, involutional, and androgenetic. However, proper hair management and treatment can lessen the symptoms and restore hair growth. The treatments for hair loss one would receive from a dermatologist depend on the type present. There’s a limited number of available medication, but they can be highly effective with a treatment plan nonetheless.

Over the Counter Medication

While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:
  • Aloe Vera
  • Onion Juice
  • Egg Masks
  • Licorice Root
  • Coconut Milk

Over the Counter Medication

While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Here are some OTC medications that may or may not be included in a treatment plan given by one of our dermatologists:
  • Minoxidil – It was originally used for high blood pressure. It helps blood flow to the hair follicles, increasing their size and hair shaft diameter. This helps hair grow and keep it growing for alopecia.
  • Antifungals – Kills tinea capitis fungus if present.

Prescription

Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:
  • Corticosteroids – Anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system in alopecia areata, totalis, and universalis.
  • Minoxidil – It was originally used for high blood pressure. It helps blood flow to the hair follicles, increasing their size and hair shaft diameter. This helps hair grow and keep it growing for alopecia.
  • Finasteride – Stops production of a male hormone which is a major contributor to male pattern baldness.
  • A Wig – This can be prescribed if diagnosed with a dermatological condition.

Post Treatment Prevention

After being seen by one of our SkyMD dermatologists, you’ve been equipped with the treatment plan and prescription(s) to treat your discomfort. However, disease can be persistent, so you have to be too. A skin care routine and a set of disease-preventing habits recommended by our dermatologists are essential for long term prevention. Here are some popular prevention strategies that could supplement your personalized treatment plan:
  • Avoid pulling hair too tight
  • Minimize stress

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