What Are the Basics of Hair Loss?

What is hair loss?

Hair loss is a condition in which the hair gradually thins or a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown and frontal scalp occurs.

Hair loss can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions or medications. It can happen to anyone but it’s more common in men. Excessive hair loss from your scalp could lead to baldness.

Hair loss can appear in many different ways, depending on what’s causing it. It can come on suddenly or gradually and affect just your scalp or your whole body.

Some types of hair loss are temporary, and others are permanent. The causes of your hair loss could help your doctor find the best treatment options for you.


What are the symptoms of hair loss?

Common signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:

  • Gradual thinning on top of head, the most common type of hair loss, affecting both men and women as they age.
  • Circular or patchy bald spots, usually affects just the scalp, but it sometimes also occurs in beards or eyebrows.
  • Sudden loosening of hair, a physical or emotional shock can cause overall hair thinning and not bald patches.
  • Full-body hair loss, some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over your body.
  • Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp, a sign of ringworm, accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling and, at times, oozing.


What are the causes of hair loss?

Hair shedding and hair growth usually happens at the same time as a cycle. But if this cycle is disrupted or the hair follicle is destroyed, hair loss occurs.

Some possible triggers of hair loss include:

  • Family history (heredity).
  • Hormonal changes and medical conditions.
  • Medications and supplements.
  • Radiation therapy to the head.
  • A very stressful event.
  • Certain hairstyles and treatments.


How to diagnose hair loss?

To diagnose your hair loss, you may have a physical exam and your doctor may ask you about your medical and family history.

Also you may need to take following tests:

  • Blood test, to uncover medical conditions related to hair loss.
  • Pull test, to determine the stage of the shedding process.
  • Scalp biopsy, to determine whether an infection is causing hair loss.
  • Light microscopy, to uncover possible disorders of the hair shaft.


What are the treatment options for hair loss?

There are several treatment options for hair loss including:

  • Medications.
  • Surgery to promote hair growth and slow hair loss.

Available medications to treat pattern (hereditary) baldness include:

  • Minoxidil (Rogaine).
  • Finasteride (Propecia).
  • Dutasteride for men and contraceptives and spironolactone for women.

Other treatment options include:

  • Hair transplant surgery
  • Laser therapy


Can medications help hair loss?

There are several kinds of medicatons helpful to hair loss.

Over the counter medication, Minoxidil (Rogaine, Ronoxidil) can stop hairs from getting thinner.

Some prescription drugs can be used, too.

Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) is an oral medication approved for hair loss in men, but not for women.

Spironolactone (Aldactone) is used to treat high blood pressure, and some women take it to stop hair loss.

Flutamide, a potent antiandrogen, has been used with some success. Latisse, a drug that’s approved by the FDA to grow lashes.



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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.