Are you or someone you know suffering from hair loss? You’re not alone. According to Harvard University, “about one-third of women experience hair loss (alopecia) at some time in their lives” and “among postmenopausal women, as many as two-thirds suffer hair thinning or bald spots.”
As dermatologists, twin brothers Dr. Kevin DeHart and Dr. Kelly DeHart have seen it all when it comes to hair loss. Typically, women wait longer than men to come in about their hair struggles. However, the sooner you see a dermatologist, the sooner you can begin the hair regrowth process.
“Timeliness is a factor when it comes to hair loss,” said Dr. Kelly DeHart. “If you leave hair loss untreated for years, you may not see as much regrowth as you do when you see a dermatologist within a few months of noticing symptoms and beginning treatment.”
When it comes to hair loss, treatment is indefinite. While there isn’t a cure, there are some great treatment options that can make a big difference when it comes to hair regrowth.
Why Consulting a Dermatologist is Crucial for Hair Loss
For both women and men, it’s important to see a dermatologist for many reasons if you’re experiencing hair thinning:
- Dermatologists can offer expert advice and help you get to the root of the problem more quickly than if you try to self-diagnose the issue on your own.
- You can be prescribed medications, and get a biopsy if necessary.
- Sometimes, your dermatologist will identify a more serious underlying medical issue that is causing your hair to fall out.
“The only way to treat hair loss effectively is to identify the cause,” said Dr. Kevin DeHart. “We look at each patient’s total health history in order to diagnose them. There are a lot of reasons for hair loss, and it’s everything from a thyroid issue to a new medication to a recent trauma.”
The best course of action is determined in part by the type of thinning you have. A scalp biopsy may be done in order to see hairs under the skin. Working alongside Dr. Kevin DeHart and Dr. Kelly DeHart, Pariser’s Dr. Ashley Reed performs biopsies for us and helps determine the diagnosis. However, scalp biopsy is not common and only 10 percent of patients who come to Pariser Dermatology for thinning hair need a scalp biopsy.
Under the microscope you’re going to see different things, for example the follicle size of the hair. This can show us, for example, whether testosterone has influenced the hair loss or if broken hairs indicate trichotillomania, which is pulling out hairs.
Let’s explore several types of hair loss, their causes, and when to see a dermatologist.
Common Types of Hair Loss
The old saying that ‘baldness genes come only from your mother’s side of the family’ simply isn’t true. Baldness actually comes from both of your parents’ genetic makeup (sorry, dad!).
The most extensive and most common type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, which is genetic hair loss, and occurs in both men and women. In men, androgenetic alopecia is also referred to as male-pattern baldness where the hair recedes above the temples and the crown of the head. In women, this type occurs throughout the entire head, becoming thinner and thinner all over but rarely resulting in total baldness.
Alopecia doesn’t just affect adults. When younger kids or teens experience Alopecia Areata, they lose hair in a round formation due to an autoimmune issue. The hair is there, but it’s not growing correctly and is often very smooth and fine. The most common treatment for this condition is a steroid injection under the skin. Alopecia can cause someone to lose all of the hair on their head or across their entire body, depending on its severity.
Traction Hair Loss
Traction hair loss occurs most often in women and is generally very gradual. Its primary cause is the result of hair being pulled or tugged on repeatedly. For example, when someone wears their hair in a tight ponytail, braids, or other restricting hair styles. This condition can also be caused by someone chronically pulling their hair out.
Telogen Effluvium refers to hair shedding. The hair begins to thin across various parts of the head. People may experience hair strands on their pillow, or in clumps in their shower drain. This type of hair loss occurs when there is a change in the number of hair follicles producing hair. It can be the result of hormonal changes after a woman has a baby, or due to a rare chronic disease.
This type of hair loss can also be associated with trauma, such as a car accident or hospitalization. Sometimes, after a traumatic event, hair will fall out a few months later. The good news is that if the event was an isolated incident, the hair loss will stabilize eventually. Traumatic events cause hair to fall out because the body is focused on recovery, rather than hair growth.
Next, let’s dive into a few treatment options.
Dr. Kevin DeHart and Dr. Kelly DeHart experienced hair loss themselves, and while they chose to shave their heads, they see that as one of many options when it comes to addressing hair loss.
For genetic hair loss, dermatologists typically approach it a few different ways with a combination of medications. This process may include some, or all, of the following treatments:
- An over the counter medication like Rogaine
- Spironolactone, which is a blood pressure medication and helps scalp grow hair
- A hormone blocker, if applicable
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is where platelet rich plasma is injected into the scalp. This is a cosmetic procedure that can stimulate hair regrowth.
Pariser Dermatology can treat all types of hair loss. Our talented and experienced team will work with you to understand your medical history, get to the root of the hair loss, and prescribe an effective solution. To schedule an appointment, call us at 757-622-6315 or request an appointment online.