What Is Alopecia?

Loss of 50 to 100 hairs per day is normal. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out, should contact a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment of alopecia. Hair loss can affect both males and females.

What causes Hair loss?

The most common cause of excessive hair loss is hereditary thinning or baldness. There are a number of other causes as well, some of which may be temporary:

  • Alopecia areata (a type of hair loss that affects all ages, which causes hair to fall out in patches)
  • Medical condition, such as thyroid disease
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy medications for the treatment of cancer
    Inadequate protein or iron in diet or eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Certain prescription drugs, such as blood thinners, high-dose vitamin A, and medicines for arthritis, depression, heart problems or high blood pressure
  • Use of birth control pills or other contraceptives
  • Childbirth
  • Hormonal imbalances, especially in women
  • Excessive or improper use of styling products, including dyes, gels, relaxers and sprays
  • Hairstyles that pull excessively on the hair (like ponytails and braids)
  • Excessive or agressive shampooing, combing, or brushing
  • Ringworm of the scalp (a contagious fungal infection most commonly affecting children).

What kind of treatment is available for hair loss?

With correct diagnosis, many people with hair loss can be helped. There are several treatment options available for hair loss, depending on the cause. Topical minoxidil (for men and women) and oral finasteride (for men only) have been shown to help in the regrowth of hair or slow hereditary hair loss. Hair loss caused by diseases such as thyroid disease can be reversed with treatment of the underlying cause. Topical or oral estrogen, or other female-specific hormones, are sometimes prescribed for women experiencing hair loss.

*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.

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