What is hair loss?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that 80 million men and women in America have hereditary hair loss (alopecia).
It can affect just the hair on your scalp or your entire body. Although alopecia is more prevalent in older adults, excessive hair loss can occur in children as well.
It’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. With about 100,000 hairs on your head, that small loss isn’t noticeable.
New hair normally replaces the lost hair, but this doesn’t always happen. Hair loss can develop gradually over years or happen abruptly. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary.
It’s impossible to count the amount of hair lost on a given day. You may be losing more hair than is normal if you notice a large amount of hair in the drain after washing your hair or clumps of hair in your brush. You might also notice thinning patches of hair or baldness.
If you notice that you’re losing more hair than usual, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. They can determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and suggest appropriate treatment plans.
What causes hair loss?
First, your doctor or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin problems) will try to determine the underlying cause of your hair loss. The most common cause of hair loss is hereditary male- or female-pattern baldness.
If you have a family history of baldness, you may have this type of hair loss. Certain sex hormones can trigger hereditary hair loss. It may begin as early as puberty.
In some cases, hair loss may occur with a simple halt in the cycle of hair growth. Major illnesses, surgeries, or traumatic events can trigger hair loss. However, your hair will usually start growing back without treatment.
Hormonal changes can cause temporary hair loss. Examples include:
- Discontinuing the use of birth control pills
Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:
- thyroid disease
- alopecia areata
- scalp infections like ringworm
Hair loss can also be due to medications used to treat:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Problems
Medicines to treat hair loss caused by heredity include:
Minoxidil. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available without a prescription. You spray or rub it into your scalp 2 times a day. It can be used by both men and women.
Finasteride. Finasteride (Propecia) is available by prescription. It's a pill that you take once a day.