Pattern alopecia, or pattern baldness/thinning is a very common condition that millions of Americans struggle with each year. If you’re unsure of what to look for, here are some tips for recognizing pattern alopecia and some common treatments for the condition.
Pattern alopecia, or female pattern thinning/male pattern baldness is a condition that causes you to lose hair faster than your body produces it. Commonly, a person loses 50 to 100 hairs a day on average. This is natural and healthy. When that number is exceeded, alopecia has occurred. There is more than one type of alopecia, but the kind we’re focusing on is concerned exclusively with the scalp. Other types of alopecia can cause total body hair loss. You don’t have to worry if you have pattern baldness or thinning that you are more at risk for this type of alopecia called alopecia universalis. The medical cause of hair loss is not fully understood, but it may have something to do with an incorrect response by the body’s immune system for high volume loss. Sometimes, it appears as though the immune system attacks hair follicles, thus causing extensive and fast-moving hair loss. For these severe conditions of alopecia, treatment and assessment is very different.
If you are suffering from pattern alopecia, or are anticipating it, chances are one of your parents or both may have it as well. Hair loss is often viewed as hereditary, and there is evidence to support that pattern alopecia is inherited. If your parents haven’t experienced hair loss, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. Everyone loses hair as they age, though some are hit harder than others. Many women, regardless of their family history will experience thinning hair during and after menopause. As people age, their body’s natural production of things like hair, new skin cells and many other crucial substances slows.
The only effective way to treat pattern alopecia is to treat it early and aggressively. Follicles that stop producing hair don’t often restart, even with the best treatment. Once your dermatologist has had a chance to assess your hair loss, they will recommend a course of treatment. Most often, pattern alopecia is treated with a topical medication called minoxidil. While this drug can be purchased in many over-the-counter forms, a dermatologist’s prescription strength minoxidil is geared toward your specific condition. Some people need different strengths, and treatment is not the same for everyone. For men, there is an oral treatment option called finasteride. This drug works to suppress hair loss and keep it to a minimum by suppressing the male hormone DHT which in high quantities can contribute to hair loss.
Besides medication, there are cosmetic treatments that prove effective. In some cases, when hair loss is not severe and being treated medically, weaving in donated hair might work to fill the gaps and cover unsightly bald spots. Another option is surgically transplanting follicles from one part of the scalp or body to the problem area. These follicles will grow and fill in with time, restoring your hair’s natural appearance.
No matter how much hair you’ve lost, there’s almost always something that can be done to prevent future loss and restore growth. If you’re struggling with pattern alopecia or more severe hair loss, call the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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