Hair loss is a general term that includes thinning of the hair, hair falling out gradually, or hair falling out quickly. There are many causes and reasons for hair loss including hereditary hair loss and hair loss due to age. In this article, we will look specifically at the medical causes of hair loss and treatment options for hair loss.
What medical issues cause hair loss?
A medical cause of hair loss can be attributed to the below.
Alopecia areata, also called alopecia, is an autoimmune disease. It causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Alopecia can cause hair loss in any part of the body from the head to the face, even inside the nose and ears.
Unlike alopecia areata where the immune system attacks hair follicles, scarring alopecia is a result of inflammation destroying hair follicles. Hair follicles cannot grow hair once they are destroyed, subsequently, scarring alopecia results in hair loss.
Cancer treatment is a common cause of hair loss. If you receive radiation treatments from the neck or head or have chemotherapy, then you may lose your hair a few weeks after treatment.
Stress, Illness, and Childbirth
After times of great stress or after recovering from an illness or childbirth, you may notice some hair loss. However, once you recover or the stress stops, the hair loss should also stop.
An infection on the scalp can lead to hair loss due to areas on the scalp becoming scaly or inflamed. Treatment of the infection should prevent further hair loss from a scalp infection.
There are many causes of hormonal imbalance; however, a common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes cysts to develop on a woman’s ovaries and leads to a host of symptoms including hair loss.
If you have plaque psoriasis, it may spread to your scalp. Scalp psoriasis may result in hair loss.
If you are on medication (especially new medication) and experience hair loss for no reason you can identify, it may be a side effect of the medication you are on. Speak to your doctor before you stop taking the medication because worse side effects can occur by abruptly stopping some medication.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
Some STIs, like syphilis, make cause hair loss if they are left untreated.
Thyroid problems are sometimes connected to hair thinning and hair loss.
Vitamins like biotin, zinc, and iron, along with protein are necessary for healthy hair production. If you are deficient in any of these, it may be contributing to your hair loss. Luckily, you can change your diet or buy supplements to fix this problem.
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Fixing Hair Loss
Whether or not you can fix hair loss depends on the cause of your hair loss. Some causes like scarring alopecia and cancer treatment cannot be fixed; however, other causes can. There are many different treatments for hair loss. Here are two steps you should take if you are experiencing hair loss and wish to fix it:
Visit a Hair Restoration Specialist
If you have hair loss, you should first go to a hair restoration specialist, such as Dr. Bradford S. Patt of the Houston Center for Facial Plastic Surgery for an evaluation to find out exactly what is causing your hair loss. He will ask you questions and examine your hair, skin, and scalp to figure out the cause of your hair loss. Once he knows what the cause is, he will be able to give you treatment options.
If your hair restoration specialist determines that your hair will regrow on its own. This may be due to a number of reasons including:
- A period of high-stress
- Recovering from illness or surgery
- Cancer treatment
- Scalp psoriasis
- Mild alopecia arreata
- Loss of weight
These causes of hair loss are generally temporary, meaning that once your body recovers, you should be able to regrow your hair naturally. For example, once you recover from surgery, stress, or childbirth, hair regrowth should restart. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, you will likely have to wait until it's over and then your body will begin to regrow hair. If you have scalp psoriasis or mild alopecia areata, then your doctor will treat these issues, once they subside, normal hair growth should resume.
Hair Loss Treatment and Procedures
Hair loss can be treated at home or through procedures performed by a hair restoration specialist.
At-Home Hair Loss Treatment
At-home hair loss treatment is a convenient way to treat hair loss, plus, some of the treatments do not require a prescription, so you can easily pick it up from a local drug store.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a popular medication used for hair loss. Minoxidil is applied one or two times a day to the scalp. It may help to stimulate hair growth and prevent any more loss of hair.
Minoxidil takes several months to work, and it is most effective when used with other hair loss treatment medications.
Talk to your doctor before trying microneedling, as it can make hair loss worse in some patients. Microneedling devices contain hundreds of tiny needles that may stimulate hair growth. Microneedling may also prove more effective if taken with other medications.
At-Home Laser Treatment
Laser caps and laser combs are devices that can be bought to treat hair loss at home. At-home laser treatment has shown to be effective for treating hair loss, specifically hereditary hair loss; however, more research needs to be done on this treatment method as it is a relatively new treatment option.
Hair Loss Procedures
Your doctor may recommend a hair loss procedure over at-home treatment. These procedures may be more effective for you.
Corticosteroids are a medication that is injected into thinning areas of the scalp or bald spots to stimulate hair growth. This procedure has been shown to be especially effective for those who suffer from hair loss due to alopecia areata. It requires injections every four to eight weeks.
Laser therapy, also called low-level laser therapy, is a safe and painless treatment option that can help patients to regrow hair. It can treat hereditary hair loss, hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment, and alopecia areata. Also, it may stimulate hair growth after getting a hair transplant.
This procedure can minimize balding areas of the scalp. It takes away small open areas to rejoin the scalp with areas that are fuller.
A hair transplant is a permanent hair loss treatment that is often used to treat male or female pattern baldness. The Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) treatment method utilizes the NeoGraft® Automated Hair Transplantation system.
Platelet-rich plasma is a procedure that involves taking a small amount of your blood, separating the plasma from the rest of it, and injecting it into the thinning or balding area to stimulate hair growth. Patients usually need to return every month for the first three months and then every three to six months afterward.
Schedule Your Hair Restoration Consultation with Bradford Patt, MD at the Houston Center for Facial Plastic Surgery
There are many treatment options for hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss or want to know more about how you can prevent hair loss, then you should speak with your hair restoration specialist. They will be able to properly diagnose you and offer the most appropriate medication to treat your hair loss.
Dr. Patt of the Houston Center for Facial Plastic Surgery specializes in hair restoration in Houston utilizing various options including platelet-rich plasma therapy and hair transplantation using NeoGraft. Contact the Office of Dr. Bradford S. Patt at (281) 649-7170 for a hair restoration consultation.