What is hair disease?
Hair disease is the thinning or loss of hair on the body. Hair disease can occur in both men and women, but the condition occurs more frequently in men. Hair disease can occur for a variety of reasons including stress, changes in hormones, or if you are taking certain medications. One of the most common causes of hair disease is genetics. This type of hair disease is known as hereditary hair disease, sometimes referred to as male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. Other types of hair disease may include alopecia areata, traction alopecia, and trichotillomania.
If you are suffering from hair disease or if hair disease runs in your family, a consultation with an experienced dermatologist can help you learn more about hair disease prevention and treatment options.
What causes thinning hair?
The most common cause of hair disease is genetics. However, depending on the type of hair disease, causes may differ, and symptoms can be temporary or permanent.
Reasons for hair disease in women and men may include:
- Immune system irregularities
- Changes in hormones
- Medical conditions
- Certain medications
- Radiation therapy
- Certain hairstyles, e.g., tight braids, tight ponytails
What are the symptoms of hair disease?
Depending on the type of hair disease and its underlying causes, symptoms may vary. You may notice signs of hair disease that occur slowly as you age, or you may experience a sudden onset of symptoms. While hair disease is most common on the scalp, symptoms can also be experienced in other areas of the body, including the eyes and nasal cavity. Symptoms of hair disease may include:
- Slow thinning of hair at the scalp
- Patches of hair disease around the scalp
- Loose hair that falls out when combing, washing, or gently pulling the hair
How is hair disease diagnosed?
To help diagnose hair disease and its cause, your doctor will go over your medical history as well as any medications you are currently taking. Your doctor may ask a series of questions, such as when the symptoms began and whether hair disease runs in your family, to determine potential causes of the hair disease. In diagnosing causes of hair disease in women, your doctor may ask about period cycles, menopause, pregnancies, and other events which could cause hormonal changes in women.
What to expect during your appointment
After reviewing your medical history and background, your doctor will examine your hair and scalp. Your doctor may gently tug the hair to see how it reacts, which is referred to as a “pull test”. Your doctor may also examine other regions of the body to compare hair growth. Hair samples, as well as a scalp biopsy, may also be needed for further diagnosis.
“As is usual, my experience was excellent. The people are courteous, friendly, appear and act effectively and efficiently. I have been a client some 17 years and have not ever had a bad experience.” – Juan A.
How is hair disease treated?
While there may not be a cure for some types of hair disease, there are hair disease treatment options available for men and women to stop, delay, or cosmetically mask hair disease. Your doctor can help determine if you are an appropriate treatment candidate and recommend the best hair disease treatment options for you. Recommended treatment options may include:
- Propecia (for men only)
- Oral contraceptives (for women only)
- Hair transplant
- Scalp reduction
- Scalp expansion
- Scalp flaps
- Laser therapy
- Clinical trials
Other Treatment Options
Along with the above treatment options, your doctor may recommend the following hair disease prevention tips:
- Avoid unnecessary rubbing during hair washing
- Use soft massaging to shampoo the scalp
- Allow water to naturally rinse the hair during shampooing
- Condition the hair after shampooing
- If you have straight hair, avoid combing the hair while it is wet
- If you have curly hair, comb the hair when it is damp
- Avoid hair blowers, hot combs, and hair irons
- Avoid hairstyles that tightly pull the hair
- Avoid placing weave or extensions in the hair
- Avoid damaging hair treatments, e.g., hair dye or hair perms
- Use a wide tooth comb and avoid tugging or pulling the hair
If you are experiencing symptoms of hair disease that are interfering with your quality of life, a consultation with an experienced dermatologist may be the first step towards helping restore the appearance and health of your scalp. At Dermatology Treatment and Research Center, our board-certified physicians hold expertise in clinical, cosmetic, and general dermatology and are ready to provide you with high-quality expert care in a friendly and compassionate atmosphere. Call 972.661.2729 or fill out the form on this page to book an appointment.