Sooner or later, it’s probably going to happen. You notice an unusual amount of hair in your comb or brush. You clean out hair caught in the shower drain. Finally, you see that dreaded confirmation in the mirror . . . your hair is definitely thinning.
And don’t think this just happens to men. It happens to women as well.
The thought will cross your mind—are you developing male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness? Or is there a different reason for your hair loss?
What is Male and Female Pattern Baldness?
Another name for male or female pattern baldness is androgenetic alopecia. It’s a common condition that affects as many as 50% of males and females. So, if you’re losing hair, you’re not alone.
Androgenetic alopecia is caused by an excessive response to androgens and genetic makeup. Androgens are sex hormones that affect reproductive health and body development.
Male pattern baldness usually begins with a receding hairline and then thinning appears around the crown. The extent of the hair loss is only determined with time. However, this balding pattern can eventually progress to total baldness.
Female pattern baldness is different. It is a thinning of hair on the top and crown of the scalp. Often this is first noticed when a woman sees a gradual widening of a part in the center of the hair. But it rarely causes the hairline to recede. And there isn’t usually an extreme progression leading to baldness. This hair loss ranges from mild to moderate.
A woman can experience a receding hairline, but this usually is something that naturally occurs with age.
In women, androgenetic alopecia is associated with heavy loss of blood during the menstrual period or taking certain oral contraceptives.
Why Does Hair Loss Occur with Androgenetic Alopecia?
As a person ages, the hair follicles shrink. They produce strands of hair that are both shorter and finer. The growth cycle progresses for each hair follicle until it ends, and no new hair grows.
Is Androgenetic Alopecia Dangerous?
If a person has developed traditional male or female pattern baldness, there is no cause for alarm. At least not from a health perspective. It’s not a sign of an underlying health problem. And there is treatment to help with hair loss.
Sudden Hair Loss from Telogen Effluvium
Humans are constantly losing hair. It’s a natural part of the hair growth cycle. Hair grows, rests, and sheds. Then new hair grows again. The resting part of the cycle is the telogen stage.
If you have very thick hair, it’s normal to have to remove hair from your brush or comb. You know what’s normal for you. But conditions can suddenly change.
Telogen effluvium is when hair goes into its resting state prematurely. During this time, a person can shed more than half of their hair! Hair loss may even occur on other parts of the body, other than the scalp. It can leave you wondering and worried if you don’t understand what is going on.
A telogen effluvium occurs about two months after your body has experienced a shock.
This can include:
- High fevers
- Severe psychological stress
- Crash diets
- Taking certain medications
Eventually, after about three to six months, hair loss slows down and returns to its normal level. Often, you can first notice new growth appear as a fine fringe along the front hairline. This is indeed a welcomed sight!
If the cause of the telogen effluvium isn’t obvious, it’s important to see a doctor to find out the reason it occurred. And it may be necessary to take certain steps to make sure the hair loss doesn’t continue.
A doctor can examine a hair under a microscope and determine whether the hair was lost because of telogen effluvium. They can also perform a scalp biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Usually, no treatment is necessary if new hair growth is occurring.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss may result from illness or other factors in your life.
They can include:
- Certain cancers
- Vitamin deficiency
- Some medications
- A thyroid condition
- Anabolic steroids
- Problems with nutrition
- Fungal conditions
If you notice a rash, redness or peeling of the scalp, or an unusual pattern or hair loss (such as patchy hair loss), consult a doctor for a medical diagnosis. These conditions do not accompany the usual androgenetic alopecia diagnosis.
What Does Not Cause Hair Loss?
While we’re at it, you’ll be happy to know that these things don’t cause hair loss:
- Wearing hats
- Shampooing your hair too often
- Too much direct sunlight
What Can You Do About Hair Loss?
A healthful anti-inflammatory diet, exercise and stress reduction will all help you feel better and maintain a healthier body and head of hair.
Unfortunately, popular treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride are associated with certain results. These can include poor hair texture, irritation, and other unwanted side effects.
Platelet-Rich Plasma for Hair Rejuvenation
At our Neuro Wellness medical office, Dr. Mian has had great results treating patients with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for hair growth. Treatment with platelet rich plasma encourages the development of new hair follicles and the development of associated new blood vessels.
Contact our office to learn more about PRP for hair rejuvenation.