Hair loss

Hair loss

Chris Schach

Author Bio -


Key Points
*Condition in which hair is lost over areas of the scalp
*May be caused by hair follicles which stop functioning, breakage, increased shedding, or hair conversion
*Typically classified based on the hair growth cycle
*Consists of loss of hair on the scalp, the size and pattern of which may vary

Hair loss, or alopecia, is a condition is which hair is lost over areas of the scalp. The condition typically presents as a loss of hair on areas of the scalp which vary in size and pattern. Hair loss is typically classified based on the hair growth cycle. Anagen Hair loss may last several years and typically occurs due to certain medications, though may be due to Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder. Anagen hair loss features hairs which are tapered or broken.

Telogen hair loss typically lasts several months, and the process is halted by the formation of new anagen hairs. This presents as shedding, and occurs as part of the normal hair growth cycle. Excessive telogen hair loss can be attributed to childbirth, fever, surgery, weight loss and certain prescription medications.

Pattern hair loss is a genetic form of alopecia which may affect men and women. Male pattern hair loss typically consists of a distinctive pattern of hair loss, while women experience generalized thinning of the hair. Approximately half of people over 50 experience some degree of pattern hair loss.

Hair loss may also be caused by other variables, such as iron or thyroid hormone deficiencies, and malformations of the hair shaft, in addition to scalp conditions including psoriasis, infection, and certain forms of dermatitis and folliculitis. Some of these condition may result in scarring in the area of hair loss. Trauma may also cause hair loss, whether environmental (use of tight curlers, hair dryers) or due to conditions like trichotillomania, the repetitive pulling of one's own hair.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)
Alopecia areata
Anagen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium
Male pattern baldness
Female pattern baldness

Key Points
*Diagnosis based on appearance of hair loss in conjunction with family history
*Other tests may be performed to rule out other similar-appearing conditions

Diagnosis is based on the appearance of hair loss during clinical examination in conjunction with a study of the affected person's family history. If health care professionals suspect another condition to be causing the hair loss, other tests may be performed to rule out these conditions.

*Treatment of associated conditions may improve symptoms
*Most common treatment for pattern hair loss is topical minoxodil
*Other treatment options include hair restoration procedures
OTC Options: Topical minoxodil

If Hair loss is associated with an underlying condition, treatment of that condition may stop hair loss and lead to regrowth, especially in cases due to scalp disorders. As pattern hair loss presents no danger to the affected person's health, treatment is not required unless one is uncomfortable with their appearance. While hair loss is permanent, use of topical minoxidil can prevent further hair loss in the majority of affected persons, and in approximately ¼ actually regrow hair. Additionally, hair restoration procedures such as hair transplants and scalp reduction may be appropriate for certain patients when hair loss is severe.

More in this category: « Hemochromatosis Herpes gestationis »