What Is It?
There are numerous causes for hair loss and the cause will determine which treatment option will be appropriate. Many men and women have a hereditary form of hair loss called androgenic alopecia, and treatments are aimed at slowing and stopping the loss. Sudden hair loss is caused by a condition called telogen effluvium, which can be caused by low iron stores, illness, stress, medications, trauma, surgery, pregnancy or diet. Another type of hair loss is called alopecia areata, which causes bald spots and is caused by an autoimmune condition.
Hair loss can be most devastating, but it is helpful to know that there are numerous treatments that can slow hair loss or restore the hair.
Female-pattern hair loss refers to the type of hair loss women get as they age, although it is usually determined by heredity. This pattern is also called androgenic alopecia; the hair on the centre of the top of the head gets thin before the other areas. This may also be accompanied by a receding hair line and usually occurs gradually. The first sign of female-pattern baldness may be that the part becomes wider. It can be genetic from either the mother or the father’s side of the family. Occasionally, this can be caused by hormonal imbalance or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
It is important to distinguish this from another form of hair loss common in women, called telogen effluvium. The pattern of telogen effluvium is usually hair loss that is all over the scalp. This occurs more suddenly, possibly 3 – 8 months after a major stress (illness, hospitalisation, childbirth or family death). Other causes of telogen effluvium include medications, thyroid disorders and low iron stores. We find the most common cause is low iron stores, which is not usually checked in regular consultations.
There are currently very few successful treatments for androgenic alopecia. At the Skin Specialist Centre, we have found the most successful treatment is 5% Minoxidil, which is a topical solution applied to the scalp once a day.
Male-Pattern Alopecia or Baldness – typically Men:
Male-pattern alopecia or baldness typically occurs as a balding patch on the crown of the head and recession of the hairline at the temples. It is genetic, but it can be from either side of the family. Fortunately, the development of a medication called Finasteride (Propecia) has been extremely helpful, not only in slowing the hair loss but in re-growth as well. This medication does have some potential side-effects, which must be discussed with your dermatologist. 5% Minoxidil (Rogaine) is also helpful and the two can be used together.
UNCOMMON CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
Less common causes of hair loss include ringworm (tinea), lupus erythematosus, thyroid deficiency, lichen planus and other diseases that are even less common. If you are not sure what is causing your hair loss, or if it is causing scarring, please see one of the dermatologists at the Skin Specialist Centre to have it evaluated. This may be done with cultures, blood tests or scalp biopsies.
What’s the next step?
If you already have an appointment booked at The Skin Specialist Centre, you can easily add a hair loss treatment consultation to your booking by calling our friendly team on (09) 524 5011. If you have never been to The Skin Specialist Centre, you can either give us a call on (09) 524 5011 or make an enquiry by clicking on the Enquire Now option below.