Hair Loss

Many conditions and diseases, and improper hair care can result in excessive hair loss. While losing 50 to 100 hairs a 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 consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The most common cause of excessive hair loss is hereditary thinning or baldness.

Other causes of hair loss, some of which are temporary, include:

  • Some cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapeutic medications;
  • Alopecia areata, a type of hair loss that affects all ages, which causes hair to fall out in patches;
  • Excessive or improper use of styling products, such as perms, dyes, gels, relaxers and sprays can cause weathering – or hair breakage;
  • Hairstyles that pull on the hair, like ponytails and braids;
  • Shampooing, combing, or brushing hair too much (100 strokes or more a day) or too hard, or pulling it out;
  • One of at least 30 diseases, such as thyroid disease;
  • Following childbirth, major surgery, a high fever or severe infection, or even the flu;
  • Inadequate protein in the diet or eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia;
  • Certain prescription drugs (including blood thinners, high-dose vitamin A and medicines for arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems and high blood pressure);
  • Use of birth control pills (usually in women with an inherited tendency toward hair thinning) or a few months after discontinuation of oral contraceptives;
  • Hormonal imbalances, especially in women; and
  • Ringworm of the scalp, a contagious fungal infection most common in children.

Treatment of Hair Loss

  • Topical and oral medications have been shown to help in the regrowth of hair or slow down hair loss.
  • Hair loss caused by diseases such as thyroid disease can be reversed with treatment of the underlying disease.
  • Topical or oral estrogen, or other hormones, are sometimes recommended for women experiencing hair loss.
  • Hair transplantation is a permanent form of hair replacement using surgery that involves moving some existing scalp hair to bald or thinning parts.

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