Everyone loses hair. It is normal to lose about 50-100 hairs every day. If you see bald patches or lots of thinning, you might be experiencing hair loss.
What causes hair loss?
There are many causes of hair loss. Women may notice thinning hair after giving birth. People under a lot of stress can see noticeable hair loss. Some diseases and medical treatments are the culprit. Even the way you style and care for your hair can have an effect.
The most common cause is a medical condition called hereditary hair loss. About 80 million men and women in the United States have this type of hair loss. Other names for this condition are:
- Male-pattern baldness
- Female-pattern baldness
- Androgenetic alopecia
While there is no cure, there are treatments that can stop or slow down its progression. The first step is to see your dermatologist. Dermatologists are specially trained in treating conditions that affect your skin, hair, and nails.
How do dermatologists diagnose hair loss?
Because so many things can cause hair loss, a dermatologist acts like a detective and begins by asking questions. The dermatologist will want to know whether your hair loss happened suddenly or gradually. Knowing this helps to determine the cause.
A dermatologist also will ask what medicines you take, what allergies you have, and whether you have been dieting. It is important to give the dermatologist accurate information. Like a murder mystery, the slightest clue can solve the case. Women may be asked about their menstrual cycles, pregnancies, and menopause.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
Sometimes the evidence lies in your scalp. The dermatologist may remove a small piece of the scalp. This is called a scalp biopsy. A dermatologist can quickly and safely perform a scalp biopsy during an office visit. A scalp biopsy can be essential to solving the case. Sometimes, a blood test is necessary.
Because so many things can cause hair loss, it can take time to find the cause.
How do dermatologists treat hair loss?
Just as there are many causes, there are many treatments for hair loss. Dermatologists recommend treating hair loss early, before you lose a lot of hair. Hair loss is harder to treat when a person has already lost an extreme amount of hair.
One or more of the following treatments may be part of your treatment plan.
Available Treatments Without a Prescription
- Minoxidil: This medicine is applied to the scalp. It can stop hairs from getting thinner and stimulate hair growth on the top of the scalp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved minoxidil to treat hair loss. It is the only hair re-growth product approved for men and women. A dermatologist may combine minoxidil with another treatment.
- Laser devices: Brushes, combs, and other hand-held devices that emit laser light might stimulate hair growth. These devices might make hair look more youthful in some people. Because the FDA classifies these products as medical devices, the products do not undergo the rigorous testing that medicines undergo. The long-term effectiveness and safety for these devices are not known.
- PRP for Hair Loss: Injecting the patient’s own blood platelets can potentially stimulate hair restoration as growth factors and stem cells work together to reverse the miniaturization of the hair follicle. It’s like jump-starting dormant hair back into the growth stage. Learn more about PRP for Hair Loss.
- Revian Wireless Cap and Smart App: The REVIAN RED System for hair growth is an innovative hair loss treatment for both men and women. REVIAN’s Modulated Light Therapy (MLT) utilizes proprietary wavelengths of LED light to unlock your natural reserves of nitric oxide. This increases local blood flow, reduces inflammation, and boosts the nutrients to your follicles resulting in new hair growth. Visit revian.com and enter code: PDSHAIR to save $50 off the purchase price.
- Untangled Hair Supplement: There is evidence of the beneficial effects of collagen supplements, consisting of proteins and glycosaminoglycans. Originating from marine sources, these supplements may have beneficial effects on hair and skin in both men and women.
Surgical Procedures for Hair Loss
The type of procedure that a dermatologist recommends depends on how much hair you have lost and the cause. While we do not currently provide the following surgical procedures, your dermatologist may refer you to a medical professional who does.
- Hair transplantation: Skin on the scalp that has good hair growth is removed and transplanted to areas of the scalp that need hair.
- Scalp reduction: Bald scalp is surgically removed and hair-bearing scalp is brought closer together to reduce balding. Scalp reduction surgery can be performed alone or in conjunction with a hair transplant.
- Scalp expansion: Devices are inserted under the scalp for about 3 to 4 weeks to stretch the skin. This procedure may be performed before a scalp reduction to make the scalp more lax. It also can be performed solely to stretch hair-bearing areas, which reduces balding.
- Scalp flaps: A hair-bearing segment of scalp is surgically moved and placed where hair is needed.
Once your dermatologist knows what is causing the hair loss, they can tell you what to expect. Sometimes the best course is no treatment at all and your hair will start to re-grow on its own. In some cases, changing your habits will stop the hair loss, allowing your hair to start re-growing. Sometimes treatment can restore hair growth and volume.
For more information, check out Dr. Kelly DeHart and Dr. Kevin Dehart’s blog post about thinning hair.
To schedule an appointment, call us at 757-622-6315 or REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT