An estimated 80 million men and women suffer from hair loss. Research is constant to understand the causes and treatment for the various forms of hair loss.
The medical term for hair loss is called Alopecia. Alopecia is divided into non-scarring and scarring alopecia, and both categories contain many different types of “Alopecia.” Many Americans, men and women suffer from hair loss and are struggling to find solutions to regrow their hair or find alternatives to hair transplant surgery.
With all the information on the internet, you can get a little overwhelmed and not fully get an answer or solution to your problem.
This feeling is because before seeking a solution, you must fully understand why you are losing hair or the cause of your hair loss. The reason will proceed with your answer and determine the best action plan. Hair loss can often be root of a bad hair day.
Everyone has different health needs, lifestyles, eating habits, and genetic makeup, which is why no one protocol would benefit you. You can have more than one type of hair loss simultaneously.
Knowing and identifying the underlying cause is essential in receiving appropriate treatment.
Hair growth occurs in three cycles:
- Anagen Phase - The Growth Phase
- Catagen Phase- The Resting phase
- Telogen Phase - Hair emerges and prepares for a new hair to grow in its place.
It’s usual for a head to shed about 50-100 strands daily. When you experience excessive hair loss, your head can shed more than 300 hairs daily.
Some of the most common forms of alopecia are as follows:
- Genetic or Family History
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Lack of Nutrition/Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
- Scarring Alopecia
- Illness or Disease
- Hair Styling
Genetic Alopecia or Androgenic Alopecia
Androgenic Alopecia, also known as genetic alopecia or male and female pattern baldness, is when you have a family history of hair loss. Male pattern baldness starts with a receding hairline and thinning in the crown.
Over time the hair follicle shrinks, and hair gets shorter and finer until the person goes bald. Female pattern baldness begins in the center of the head or part and appears to fan out from there. Temples may appear thin or start to recede.
Causes of Genetic Alopecia
It’s believed that genetics, age, hormonal, and environmental factors such as nutritional deficiencies, smoking, and stress can contribute to the stages of balding.
When the testosterone DHT builds up around the hair follicles, the follicles shrink and shorten the antigen or growth phase. Doctors and Female Pattern Baldness usually occurs because of a thyroid condition, after menopause, or when estrogen levels drop.
Treatment for Genetic Alopecia
The male hormone DHT is believed to contribute to Androgenic Alopecia significantly. Therefore, many medications and treatments aim to inhibit or lower the hormone in the body and scalp.
Finasteride is an FDA-approved treatment prescribed for male pattern baldness. The drug inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Many adverse side effects have been reported in oral medication. The topical cream has fewer side effects but is not available in the US.
Topical minoxidil approved by the FDA. Available in 2% and 5% solution and 5% foam. Minoxidil has been linked to many harmful illnesses and diseases, and the solution must be used indefinitely to maintain results.
Low-level laser therapy LLLT was first used in the 1960s by NASA to accelerate wound healing n space. LLT was accidentally discovered as a solution for hair growth through an experiment on rats to test the effects of light and cancer. The study resulted in shaved mice growing hair but did not get cancer.
The FDA approved LLT for hair growth in 2007. It helps heal the scalp, prevents, and kills bacteria and fungi, and stimulates hair growth. Many devices claim to produce the wavelengths necessary to see results.
One of the most popular devices is the Revian Cap for its ease of use and wireless design. (Receive $400 off with CODE: HC- ELITEHAIR)
Med Spas across the country have seen excellent results with micro-needling on the skin and now remarkable benefits on the scalp when used with growth peptides. Fine needles create tiny punctures in the scalp’s skin and release growth serums.
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy for hair loss is when your blood is drawn, and the platelets are separated and injected into the scalp. Traditionally PRP has been used since the 1980s to assist with wound healing and recovery. Several treatments may be needed to achieve desired results.
The most common cause of hormonal hair loss is stress, thyroid levels, pregnancy, medications, and menopause.
Hormonal hair loss may be reversed if you work with your dermatologist or trichologist and take the necessary steps suggested to balance out your hormonal levels. Success requires balancing hormones, nutritional changes, and a healthy hair care routine.
Telogen Effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss, usually occurring at the top of the scalp. The cause of Telogen Effluvium is a result of a prolonged stressful period, shock, or traumatic event. Hair loss is experienced 2-3 months after the stressor.
Please note that hair loss can cause psychological distress, and the combination of other underlying factors can worsen your condition. For example, when the body is stressed, it raises cortisol levels and contributes to hair loss. In addition, hormonal changes during menopause may also cause telogen effluvium.
This form of hair loss has been reported in COVID-19 infection patients. Those infected with the virus were under tremendous psychosocial and physiologic stress, which led to hair loss.
Treatments of Hormonal Imbalance Hair Loss
Supplements that help lessen the effects of stress on the body, such as Nutrafol vitamin therapy. Nutrafol supplements are the number one dermatologist-recommended supplements for hormonal and stress-related hair loss.
Stress can lead to abnormal hormone changes; therefore, reducing stress is necessary to slow the progression of hair loss. Exercise aids in increasing blood flow throughout the entire body and scalp which helps hair growth. Yoga and meditation have been known to reduce stress.
Acupuncture can activate circulation, stimulate hair growth, reduce stress, balance hormones, and have other positive benefits relating to overall health.
Lack of Nutrition/Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
Hair requires nutrients, including protein, iron, B vitamins, and zinc, to grow. When the body lacks proper nutrition, it can cause a chemical imbalance. This imbalance affects how the hair receives nutrients to expand, thus affecting the growth cycle.
Many people look for ways to lose weight and stay in shape. Most diets require the restriction of proteins (amino acids are building blocks of hair); without an adequate amount of protein, an individual may experience thinning and hair loss. Protein is a crucial nutrient not stored in the body and must be replaced daily through food.
Treatment of Lack of Nutrition
A healthier diet may seem obvious, but to regrow hair from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, you must adopt a healthier diet.
Speak with your doctor and dietician about introducing nutrient-rich foods that support overall health. Studies show that a diet rich in plants, fruits, fiber, and protein can improve hair’s appearance and increase growth.
Alopecia Areata (Illness or Disease)
Underlying health conditions, which include autoimmune diseases that affect the thyroid gland, can lead to hair thinning and hair loss.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes hair loss.
Treatment of Alopecia Areata
Corticosteroid is injected into affected areas by a board-certified dermatologist once a month for 3-6 months and is not recommended for severe or very diffused forms of hair loss.
Topical steroids decrease inflammation around the hair follicle and reduce hair loss. It's less effective than injections but may show some improvement.
June 12, 2022, FDA Approves First Systemic Treatment for Alopecia Areata. Olumiant was originally approved in 2018 for use in patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis and adults with COVID-19.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) is a form of scarring alopecia that can cause permanent hair loss.
Round patches of hair loss are most seen in the crown. Hair loss will first appear at the top of the apex and spread out from that point.
Causes of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial
A standard medical or hair styling practice has not been linked to CCCA.
The cause of CCCA is likely to be multifactorial. Some medical professionals suggest it may be a combination of styling practices, infections, autoimmune, or diabetes.
Treatment of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial
There is no proven treatment for CCCA that does not require a medication from a certified dermatologist.
One option could be a hair transplant. A hair transplant involves taking hair from a safe area and implanting it into the bald areas of the scalp.
Patients seeking this treatment should understand the aftercare needed to achieve results. Consult your doctor or dermatologist before considering this procedure.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Type of scarring alopecia that affects the frontal portion of the hairline. Frontal fibrosing alopecia is often overlooked due to associated traction alopecia.
Linear band of hair loss in the front of the hairline, sides, and possibly continuing around the circumference of the head to the back. The scalp looks discolored and shiny and may appear scarred without visible hair follicle openings.
Hair loss in other body parts such as eyebrows, legs, and arms, or men the beard may proceed with this type of hair loss. Recommended blood tests include hematology, biochemistry, thyroid function tests, and ANA.
Hormone status may assess if there are other clinical features to suggest hyperandrogenism. Consider using patch testing for treatment.
Causes of Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia is frequently reported in patients with hypothyroidism, contact allergy to fragrances, regular sunscreen use, and autoimmune diseases, including lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment of Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
There are no controlled trials to evaluate effective treatments for FFA; however, results have been seen using intralesional steroids, hydroxychloroquine, and corticosteroid injections.
Traction Alopecia (Hair Styling)
Traction Alopecia diagnosis was first described in Greenland by patients with hair loss from wearing tight ponytails. It is a form of acquired hair loss resulting from prolonged or repetitive tension on the scalp.
Repeated strain on the hair follicles can pull out strands of hair and cause damage. This strain causes redness, itching, and infections.
Causes of Traction Alopecia
Alopecia due to traction can be caused by:
- A hairstyle that pulls on the hair follicle
Some people will experience hair loss right after the hairstyle is taken down or if tight hairstyles are worn for an extended time.
Hairpieces and extensions glued or tightly tied to the base of the hair may cause tension at the hair roots.
Headwear, such as sports helmets, particularly compression ones worn while playing football, snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, etc., may cause the hair to thin due to constricting blood flow and oxygen to the scalp.
Hair accessories, including hair slides or grips, are worn the same way daily. Very long hair can be heavy, pulling on the hair follicles. Very long or tightly tied beards can also result in traction alopecia. Frequent use of relaxers can also contribute to traction alopecia.
The chemicals in relaxers can weaken the hair fibers and make them prone to breakage, thus causing hair loss in the long run. Trichotillomania is a mental disorder characterized by constant (and often unconscious) hair twisting, plucking, or pulling.
Traction Alopecia Treatments
Traction alopecia causes swelling on your scalp, which can be painful. An anti-inflammatory cream or antibiotics such as tetracyclines or antimalarial tablets can reduce pain and swelling caused by traction alopecia.
Topical steroids (e.g. clobetasol) or intralesional steroids.
Used to treat inflammation and itching
Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to fight infection but is also frequently used for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Hair Loss Tips!
Talk with your OBGYN or Dermatologist. They usually will run a series of tests to rule out hormonal deficiency, low iron, vitamin D, and autoimmune disease. (A dermatologist or hair transplant surgeon will assess your hair loss based on the salt method categorizing your hair loss as limited, moderately severe, and very severe.)
A Cranial Prosthesis Specialist near you could also consult with you about medical wigs, toupees, and other hair pieces.
Seek out a Master Cosmetologist specializing in hair growth or a Trichologist. They can suggest hairstyles that would work for your lifestyle without causing further damage to your hair or scalp.
A few things you can do on your own:
- Use proper Shampoo and Conditioner for your hair type.
- Keep the scalp clean and avoid product build-up.
- Choose styles that compliment you and are easy to manage.
- Discontinuing traumatic hair care practices is essential in achieving your hair growth goal.
- Be consistent with a healthy diet plan, make regular salon appointments for treatment if needed, drink water, and manage stress.
If you need emotional support, several alopecia organizations are online that can assist you with working through how to effectively deal with any challenges you may be facing concerning your condition.
There are constant updates to categories and types of hair loss and proven treatments available. Remember that even if your hair is regrown, it does not mean you won’t experience hair loss in the future. Often individuals may experience even more hair loss once they discontinue the routine that helped them regrow their hair.
No matter what type of alopecia you may be experiencing, some treatment methods will benefit everyone, such as correcting vitamin and mineral deficiencies, balancing hormones, improving your immune system, using less tension on the hair, and reducing stress.
By Guest Writer Lyric Elise
Some of her most notable projects were when she was hired as a lead Hair Stylist for Lyanla’s “Fix My Life” with the Pace Sisters in 2013. In 2014 her insight into the tools and tricks of the hairstyling platform led her to another achievement in this plateau by getting featured on Fox 5 News as “The Hair Detective” by helping her customers with hair loss and focusing on the solutions.
Check out here book - More Than Hair Deep.