Diagnosing Alopecia: How Much Hair Loss is Normal

Woman looking at hair loss Diagnosing Alopecia: How Much Hair Loss is Normal

Nobody wants to lose their hair, but for many people, it’s bound to happen. Hair loss is a natural part of growing older, but when it happens outside of aging or if it’s sudden, it could mean something more is at play.

Hair loss can happen for many reasons, so it’s always important to consult a dermatologist when it happens. Your dermatologist can set you up with the hair loss treatment you need, and explore whether an underlying health problem is causing hair loss.

Explaining Alopecia

Alopecia might sound like a complicated condition, but at its core it simply describes hair loss. While the cause of alopecia relates to the way certain proteins work in hair follicles, the reason it impacts certain people is unknown. There are a few reasons that a person may lose hair temporarily that can be explained. After childbirth, many women experience hair loss. This is caused by the intense hormonal changes that take place during and after pregnancy. Hair loss can happen for a number of reasons, but hormones are the main cause. Alopecia can happen with autoimmune diseases and even high fevers.

The Different Types of Alopecia

There are four main forms of alopecia. Hereditary hair loss is the most common form of alopecia. If hair loss “runs in your family,” that’s hereditary thinning. While it’s more common and obvious in men, the condition also affects many women. Men experience male pattern baldness, and can actually go completely bald from this condition. Women don’t often lose all of their hair, however female pattern thinning is also common.

More severe forms of alopecia include alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. Alopecia doesn’t always happen on the scalp, and even whern it does, that might not be the only part of the body that it impacts. Alopecia areata is hair loss on any specific part of the body. It can occur on the scalp, but will only be in patches. If all of the hair on your scalp is lost, this is alopecia totalis. Alopecia universalis is total hair loss. With this condition, all of the hair on your body is lost. Even nose hairs and eyelashes are lost with alopecia universalis.

How Much Hair Loss is Normal, and What Else Should You Look For?

Hair loss is considered alopecia when the loss extends beyond 100 hairs a day. Losing 50 to 100 hairs per day is normal, and when hair falls out new growth takes its place. When that number is exceeded, it’s considered alopecia. In these numbers, hair loss is very noticeable. If you start losing hair excessively from other parts of your body besides your scalp, you most likely have a more severe form of alopecia.

One of the earliest signs of alopecia besides hair loss has nothing to do with your hair at all. Since our nails and hair are made of the same protein, a deficiency of the protein keratin can manifest first as pitting in the fingernails. Pitting appears as small, crater-like indentations in the nail, and can warn you of impending hair loss. Like a number of skin conditions, your nails are sometimes the first to suffer.

Alopecia can wreak havoc on your self esteem and even cause other health problems. If hair loss is impacting your life in any way, your dermatologist can help, so reach out to the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.

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