Hair follicles are created before birth and remain constant throughout life. There are about 100,000 – 150,000 scalp hair follicles at birth. But not all follicles become active, and some lose their ability to produce hair over time. Active follicles have a normal life cycle that includes a growth phase, followed by a transitional phase, and then a resting phase. In fact, hair grows one centimeter a month! And, not all hair follicles are active at the same time. The life cycle of hair follicles can be as long as seven years or as short as two years. The cycle ends when the hair is shed.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. There are many types of hair loss caused by a variety of conditions from autoimmune diseases to the use of certain medications.
What is normal hair loss?
We lose 50 – 100 scalp hairs each day and most of the time, those hairs grow back. Temporary hair loss may be reversible or reverse on their own.
What are the causes of hair loss?
- Changes in hair color and thickness are some of the most obvious signs of aging. As we age, the rate of hair growth slows down. Most everyone has some hair loss with aging because the hair is shed faster than it grows back. Once thick, healthy hairs fall out and are replaced by thinner, less pigmented hair, as the follicles wear out.
- Androgenic alopecia is inherited hair loss caused by a genetic predisposition to hormones that damage the hair follicles. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss. And, contrary to popular belief, it is not from the mother or mother’s father. Rather, multiple genes have been identified as causing male and female pattern hair loss.
- Autoimmune disease. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that causes smooth, round patches of hair to fall out. It can affect the scalp and body hair.
- Disease and underlying conditions. Losing your hair may be the first sign of 30 different diseases. Common diseases like thyroid disease and anemia can cause the hair to fall out. Diabetes and lupus are related to hair loss. Treating the underlying disease can stop or reverse the hair loss.
- Major surgery, high fever, severe inflections, and scalp infections interfere with normal hair cycles.
- Cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy can cause hair loss.
- Intense emotional or physical distress can cause a temporary loss of hair.
- Hormone changes in pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can cause temporary or permanent hair loss.
- Drug induced hair loss. Certain mediations used to treat cancer, depression, heart problems, epilepsy, gout and blood pressure can interfere in the normal cycle of hair growth.
- Traction alopecia is caused by hairstyles that pull the hair tight including pony tails, pigtails, and cornrows.
- Hair loss is associated with rapid weight loss. Stress to the system forces hair follicles into the resting phase. When the stressors are removed, normal hair growth will return.
- Dietary changes and nutritional deficiencies like low iron.
When should I see a doctor?
Losing your hair is no minor thing. Hair is a symbol of strength and virility in men, and in women it is a symbol of attractiveness, femininity, youth and sexuality. Both men and women feel self-conscious, helpless, and anxious about their hair loss. Hair loss makes you look older than you really are.
When you notice your hairbrush filling with hair, your hair is thinning or bald spots begin to appear, it is important to get a diagnosis from an expert. Getting the right diagnosis can help you keep the hair you have or relieve your distress when you learn that your hair loss is only temporary, and with the right treatment will return to its former glory. Whether the diagnosis is temporary or permanent hair loss, Dr. Powell has solutions that will restore your hair and your self-esteem.
The pattern of hair loss suggests is hereditary pattern hair loss or male pattern baldness. Alopecia Areata has a defined appearance. Sometimes in addition to an examination, tests may be necessary to identify the root cause of the problem!
Dr. Carl A. Powell is the hair loss specialist at Powell Medical Hair Restoration in San Diego. He has decades of experience in hair loss and hair restoration, and he understands the psychological impact of hair loss. You can expect compassionate care that respects your privacy and confidentiality.
Hair loss prevention only works while you are taking the treatment. Are you spending hours in front of the mirror studying the process of your hair loss? Are you spending hundreds of dollars on temporary hair thickeners, Minoxidil and other topical medications, trying to cover up balding spots? Find out how Dr. Powell can help you.