Every year, Americans spend millions of dollars investing in hair product, such as wigs, weaves, and extensions. They also spend countless dollars on medical treatments, hair replacement surgeries, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements to achieve and maintain a beautiful healthy head of hair.
To be sure, our society values luxurious, healthy hair. Inevitably, however, hair loss happens to nearly everyone – both men and women– at some time in their lives. Whether hair loss is permanent or temporary, we don’t have just one reason why we lose our hair.
Alopecia areata. Alopecia happens when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss, and oftentimes resulting in baldness. When cyclist Joanna Rowsell ascended the podium to collect her gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, she shocked the world by revealing that she was completely bald. In one moment she went from an athletic role model to an alopecia icon, helping to raise awareness of this very common, but highly misunderstood autoimmune disorder.
Telogen effluviam (TE). Stressors such as physical trauma, crash diet, medication, lack of sleep, and any other number of “shocks to the system” can cause the hair follicle to go into a sort of a “hibernation” state until the stress passes. TE may become noticeable by the gradual hair loss that can occur from every day activities such as washing, styling, or brushing your hair. Once the stressors are removed, the hair often grows back.
Trichotillomania – also known as Hair Pulling Disorder – is a chronic condition that creates an obsessive urge to pull out one’s hair, whether on the scalp, the eyelashes, or facial hair. Some people do it as a nervous habit like biting nails while others pull their hair to relieve tension, frustration, or stress. Trichotillomania may be managed by therapy and hypnosis, to name a few, that have helped trichotillomania suffers modify their behaviors.
A side effect of some medications – especially antidepressants and chemotherapy – is hair loss. Once the chemo treatment is over, the hair will return. The same is often true when doctors opt for less aggressive medications.
Poor Diet. Ensuring you get the correct nutrients in the proper amounts is important for strong and healthy hair, for example protein, zinc, amino acid L-lysine, and vitamins such as B6 and B12.
Over Care of the Hair. Flat irons, weaves, harsh chemical treatments and coloring your hair to change your mood, all contribute to damaging the hair and weakening the follicles. To maintain healthy hair may require you to make a bold decision to opt out of the newest fashion trends and stick to more natural processes such as air-drying and using natural treatments such as tea tree oil or mayonnaise to nourish the hair.
Hypotrichosis is a congenital, life-long condition of when you have no hair growth. Unlike the gradual, but permanent hair loss that comes with alopecia, those with hypotrichosis never had hair growth in the first place.
The Fungus Among Us. Ringworm (the same as athletes’ foot) and piedra are fungi that burrow into the hair follicle, causing hair to be brittle or break. These fungi are very contagious and can be passed from one person to another through any sort of casual contact, such as sharing a comb or towel. Antifungals are the best treatment to rid yourself of these nuisances and reclaim your hairline.
Folliculitis occurs when the hair follicle becomes inflamed, oftentimes after shaving. As folliculitis progresses, the hair usually falls out, and the hair follicle returns to normal. However, more severe cases can leave the follicle permanently destroyed, leaving behind hairless patches.
Seborrheic dermatitis is another skin condition that involves temporary hair loss if the dermatitis is located on the scalp or other places where hair develops. The affected areas can be quite painful and itchy. Most likely your doctor will prescribe a medicated shampoo to resolve the dermatitis.
Loose anagen syndrome, as the name suggests, is when hair is loose out of the hair follicle. Hair never seems to grow, is thin, and easily rubs off on pillows, hats, and hoodies, especially at the back of the neck.
Defects in the Hair. Some people were just born with bad hair. Trichorrhexis nodosa occurs when there is an absence of cuticle in the hair fiber. Monilethrix can cause hair breakage and loss at the back of the scalp and neck, but can leave the front of the head unaffected. Monilethrix can also affect hair in other regions of the body.
Hair loss, for any reason, can be a traumatic and concerning event. If you are noticing hair loss, your best course of action is to get a definitive diagnosis from a doctor you trust. Dr. Ana M. Duarte and her staff at the Children’s Skin Center specialize in both pediatric and adult dermatology in Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, and are ready to help you understand why you are losing your hair and potential treatment options. Call 305-669-6555 to request an appointment at one of our locations in Miami, Coral Gables, Doral, Miami Lakes, Miramar, Kendall, and Palm Beach Gardens