Hair Loss

Hair Loss Treatment in Novato

Hair is actively growing all the time; hairs fall out and regrow in a constant and continuous cycle.  Each individual hair is in a certain phase of hair growth, and not all the hairs are in the same phase.   Each hair goes through a growing phase called anagen, a resting phase called catagen, and an end phase called telogen.  During the telogen phase, an individual hair falls out, and then the follicle starts growing a new hair, which starts the cycle all over again.  Most people lose about 100 hairs per day–these are almost all telogen hairs.

With hair loss, people can notice that more hairs are falling out or that their hair is getting thinner in a way that makes their scalp area more visible.  Sometimes people notice both increased hair shedding and thinning.  There are many causes of hair loss.  To determine the cause, a dermatologist will obtain a thorough medical history and inquire about medications and a family history of hair loss.

Female Pattern Baldness is common.  There is usually noticeable thinning on the top and front of the scalp. Sometimes the hairline can recede at the temples, but usually some fringe of hair remains at the very front of the scalp.  Patients have a widening of the part on the top of their scalp.  Minoxidil, otherwise known as Rogaine, is a topical liquid medication that can help slow down and even reverse this type of hair thinning.

Male Pattern Baldness is used to describe both recession of the hairline and thinning at the very top of the scalp, called the vertex.  A testosterone-like hormone affects hair growth such that a normal thick, pigmented hair turns into a white “peach fuzz” type of hair.  There are medications that block this hormonal effect on hairs.  These can slow down, stop, or even encourage growth of new hairs.  Minoxidil can be used for male pattern baldness as well.

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune process in which the patient’s immune system attacks the hair follicles.  Hairs drop out in patches, leaving a smooth bald patch.  Depending on the severity of hair loss, various topical and oral medications can be used to “tone down” the autoimmune process.  Alopecia areata can be associated with other autoimmune diseases, particularly thyroid disease.  A simple blood test can check for other autoimmune diseases.

Telogen Effluvium is when large quantities of hairs are suddenly being shed.  Sometimes patients think clumps of hair are coming out all at once.  This process can occur about 3 months after a serious illness, significant change in diet, delivery of a baby, or discontinuation of birth control pills.  Severe psychological stress is also a cause but more rarely.  For unknown reasons, under certain conditions such as those mentioned above, significantly larger numbers of hairs go into the telogen phase at the same time.  After a few months, all these hairs are shed together.  Patients will say their hair is “falling out by the roots”.  Although it may take several months, the normal phases of hair return, so the hair shedding usually stops.

Other Causes of Hair Loss can occur if a patient has an underlying medical condition, of which they may or may not be aware.  Some of the medical conditions that can cause hair loss are thyroid problems, anemia, and hormonal imbalances. Various medications can also cause hair loss, including blood thinners, blood pressure medicines, and anti-depressants.  The hair usually returns to normal after the medication is discontinued.  Constant tension on the hairs from hair styling that pulls tightly on hair, like tight ponytails, may also lead to hair loss.  Tension from compulsive pulling and/or twisting of the hair, called trichotillomania, can be another cause.  This behavior can result from stress or obsessive compulsive psychological disorders.