Are you noticing more hair in the shower or on your brush, and chalking it up to stress? While stress can contribute to hair loss, that’s not the common explanation—alopecia is.
Alopecia in its broadest definition, refers to hair loss. There are different kinds of alopecia, but the most common and recognizable form is androgenetic alopecia. This form of the condition is most often referred to as male or female pattern baldness. With men and women it’s also sometimes called pattern thinning or pattern hair loss. The exact cause of this form of alopecia (and all forms of the condition) is unknown, but pattern baldness is strongly believed to be genetic. If your parents have pattern baldness, you’re more likely to develop it yourself. Pattern baldness is characterized by hair loss that often forms a pattern. Most commonly, hair is lost above the temples first, and then the thinning and loss continues.
It is totally normal for hair to fall out. Hair loss is a natural part of its lifetime, but if you lose more than 50 hairs per day, it’s probably alopecia. Stress of course can cause or worsen hair loss as well, though it’s not usually as simple as that. Certain medications and other skin conditions can also cause hair loss, so it’s always important that you don’t chalk hair loss up to the easiest explanation. If you’re noticing unusual hair loss, stay on the side of caution and make an appointment with your dermatologist.
There are many options for treating alopecia, but your dermatologist is going to need to be involved. Only a dermatologist can prescribe the proper medical treatment for your condition and address your specific needs. There are many scams and products out there that promise miracles, but you should not trust over-the-counter cures. Alopecia is difficult to treat, and it takes time and expertise.
Your dermatologist may prescribe minoxidil, a topical drug that can very effectively treat hair loss. Minoxidil can treat hair loss when it’s detected early, and needs to be administered regularly to maintain growth. Minoxidil and many other treatments are not miracles that can completely reverse hair growth, and this medication is best used in combination with other treatments. For men, there is an oral medication called finasteride which works to suppress the male hormone DHT which is partially responsible for pattern baldness.
In addition to medication, laser and light therapies can be helpful for preventing hair loss and promoting regrowth. By exposing the skin to photons contained in light, weakened cells and follicles are strengthened. With support, a hair follicle may be kickstarted back into action by light and laser therapy. There are many different ways laser and light therapy is administered for treating hair loss, but helmet or hat-like devices are becoming the norm. They are simply placed on the scalp and left there for a predetermined amount of time. While you can buy products like these for home use, it’s always best to consult a dermatologist for advice and treatment. Light therapy can be dangerous if not administered in a controlled setting, leading to damage like a sunburn or other long term conditions like actinic keratosis.
Treating alopecia is not always a breeze, but with the right tools and an expert on your side, it can be done. If you’re ready to get the hair loss treatment you need, call the professionals at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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