3 Reasons For Hair Loss

Reasons for Hair Loss?

Photo by Patrizia Soliani via Flickr

When you’re showering and after when you’re drying your hair it’s perfectly normal to lose hair.

“On average, we lose fifty to a hundred hairs a day,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. “That’s just hair going through its cycles, and there will be a new one to replace it.” But hair loss may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs an evaluation by a dermatologist and possible treatment.

Here are 3 reasons why you’re losing hair and how you should deal with them:

#1 Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a phenomenon that occurs after pregnancy, major surgery, drastic weight loss, or extreme stress, in which you shed large amounts of hair every day, usually when shampooing, styling, or brushing. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The symptoms: Women with telogen effluvium typically notice hair loss 6 weeks to 3 months after a stressful event. At its peak, you may lose handfuls of hair.

What you can do: In some cases, such as pregnancy or major surgery, you may have to bide your time until the hair loss slows. If medication is the culprit, talk to your doctor about lowering your dosage or switching drugs. If it’s stress-related, do your best to reduce anxiety.

#2 Hereditary Hair Loss

Hair loss that is genetic is known as androgenetic alopecia and, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is the most common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family, though you’re more likely to have it if both of your parents had hair loss.

The symptoms: Women with this trait tend to develop thinning at the hairline behind the bangs, says Pamela Jakubowicz, MD, a dermatologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. The condition develops slowly and may start as early as your 20s. You may be vulnerable if your mother also has this pattern of thinning. In some cases, the hair loss may be diffuse, meaning it’s spread across the entire scalp.

What you can do: Slow the hair loss by applying minoxidil (Rogaine) to the scalp twice a day. The drug works on both women and men, although women should use a lower-strength formula to prevent unnecessary side effects. Women should not use minoxidil if they are pregnant or nursing. Men may be treated with finasteride (Propecia), an oral medication.

#3 Hypothyroidism

Millions of people, most of them women, suffer from thyroid disease. When your body produces too little thyroid hormone, the hormone responsible for metabolism, heart rate, and mood, you are said to have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.

Thyroid hormone is responsible for everything from your basal metabolic rate—the rate at which your body uses oxygen and energy to function—to the growth of your hair, skin, and nails. But when you don’t have the right amount, you may notice changes in bodily functions.

The symptoms: Hypothyroidism (too little hormone) may cause a host of symptoms, including unexplained weight gain, fatigue, constipation, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Hair, nails, and skin may become more brittle and break more easily. It’s more common in women, especially over the age of 50, says Theodore C. Friedman, MD, MPH, chief of the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and molecular medicine at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles and coauthor of The Everything Guide to Thyroid Disease (Adams Media, 2007). It affects about 5 percent of the US population but is nearly 10 times more frequent in women.

What you can do: Your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone medication to restore levels to normal. Regular TSH tests might be done to ensure an adequate dosage.

…more at 9 Reasons You Are Losing Your Hair

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