We ask Dr. Robert Dorin, hair loss expert and Diplomate at The American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, our most pressing questions related to tress loss.
Q: What are the different types of hair loss?
A: The most common in both men and women is androgenic alopecia—often called male or female pattern baldness—where the growth phase of a hair (the anagen phase) is shortened, resulting in an accumulation of very fine, colorless hairs called vellus hairs. Then there’s scarring alopecia, a form of permanent hair loss in which the follicles are destroyed due to surrounding inflammation and are replaced by scar tissue. Some patients suffer from telogen effluvium, the shedding of hairs when a disproportionate number of anagen follicles are prematurely shifted into their resting (telogen) phase. And lastly, alopecia areata occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks follicles; the loss is usually non-permanent.
Q: What is trichotillomania?
A: Trichotillomania is an unnatural compulsion to bite off, pull out or rub one’s hair to the point of destroying follicles. This self-inflicted condition results in irregular patches of hair loss, with intervening hairs broken off at various lengths. It can result in severe balding, and treatment requires psychiatric or psychological referral for assessment.
Q: How does a healthy scalp prevent hair loss?
A: Scalp conditions such as seborrhea dermatitis, psoriasis and scalp fungal infection (tinea capitis) can suppress hair growth and cause localized hair loss to the region of the scalp affected. To treat these conditions, look for anti-dandruff shampoos containing salicylic acid, UV ray treatment, steroid ointments or anti-fungal shampoos.
Q: How can hair loss be prevented in the first place?
A: Clients can make steps in their everyday life to help protect their hair:
- Use a sodium laureth sulfate–free shampoo, wash hair with lukewarm water and use a high-quality reparative conditioner.
- Do not leave hair in styles that maintain constant tension for long (braids, cornrows, etc.).
- Avoid indulging in junk food daily. Include vitamins, fruits and vegetables in each meal.
- Research all medication prior to using; certain drugs lead to hair loss as a side effect.
- A good amount of sleep cannot reverse hair loss, but it can help prevent premature hair loss conditions.
Q: Which medical conditions can lead to hair loss?
A: Various diseases can contribute. To name a few of the common ones: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency anemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, discoid lupus and sarcoidosis. Most of these can be diagnosed and treated, which will stabilize hair loss.
Q: What are signs that hair loss is beginning, and can it be reversed once it has begun?
A: Commonplace signs include gradual thinning on the top of the head at the crown, receding hairline or patchy bald spots. But with the advent of new chemical and medical technologies, now more than ever, hair loss can be minimized, stabilized or even reversed. The key is education, prevention and proper intervention. This is coming from a prior hair loss sufferer: Take heart; take action. I’m glad I did!