Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common condition that can be a consequence of natural aging, a side effect of medication, or a manifestation of a health disorder. It can result in total baldness, thinning of the hair, or patchy bald spots and may be confined to the scalp or affect other areas of the body. While hair loss is completely normal, many SkinSmart Dermatology® patients want to keep their hair and seek out the most effective treatments to do so.
If you’re struggling with hair loss, there may be ways to slow the progression or cure underlying conditions causing the shedding. Read on to learn more, or call 941-308-7546 to book a consultation at our Sarasota, Florida dermatologist practice.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss affects men and women, with men experiencing balding more frequently. It may be temporary or permanent, depending on its cause. Some of the reasons for hair loss include:
- Male pattern baldness
- Fungal infections of the scalp
- Severe infections or high fevers
- Poor nutrition
- Certain medications
- Traumatic stress
- Trichotillomania, a psychiatric disorder involving compulsive hair-pulling
- Thyroid or pituitary disorders
- Certain skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder
- Telogen effluvium, in which too many hair follicles remain in a resting state
Our board-certified dermatologists can diagnose the reason for your hair loss and provide the most appropriate treatment.
How Does a Dermatologist Diagnose Hair Loss?
During hair loss consultations, our dermatologists conduct a physical examination and ask relevant questions about your family history, medical conditions, diet, and hair care products. A pull test, where we gently tug your hair to see how many strands come out, can determine the degree of shedding. We can also perform a blood test to undercover other conditions that cause hair loss.
We typically rule out fungal infections with a scalp biopsy. This involves gentle skin scraping or plucking out a few hairs to look at the roots. If we need to take a closer look, a light microscopy can be used to discover disorders of the hair shaft.
How Common is Hair Loss?
There are several types of hair loss, but the most common is androgenetic alopecia (also known as male or female pattern hair loss). By age 50, men have a 50% chance of developing male pattern baldness. Women aren’t far behind, with 40% developing female pattern baldness by age 70.
Is My Hair Loss Temporary?
Many patients experience sudden and rapid hair loss several months after a traumatic event called telogen effluvium (TE). Stressful events, illness, malnutrition, certain medications, and hormonal imbalance can trigger a disruption in your hair cycle where the growing phase shortens and shedding increases.
Many patients experienced TE for the first time after COVID-19 infections, which is unsurprising considering the combination of physical illness and emotional stress. Fortunately, most cases of TE resolve on their own, though it may take several months to see improvement. Topical medications like minoxidil can speed growth if you find temporary hair loss distressing.
Without a proper diagnosis, it’s hard to determine whether your hair loss is temporary or progressive. Our dermatologists can determine the type of alopecia you have and the best treatments.
Treatment for Hair Loss
Treatment for hair loss is usually based on the cause of the condition. For example, When hair loss results from a fungal infection, it can be treated with anti-fungal medication. On the other hand, medication may be unnecessary if your condition is temporary, like hair loss resulting from cancer treatment which typically resolves on its own.
Effective hair loss treatments include:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine®): This over-the-counter topical comes in liquid, shampoo, and foam versions that should be applied to the scalp once to twice daily. This treatment can slow the rate of hair loss and, in some cases, help you regrow your hair. However, you’ll need to apply it consistently to maintain the effects.
- Finasteride (Propecia®): This oral prescription medication can slow hair loss in men. In some cases, you’ll notice new hair growth. Unlike minoxidil, this drug isn’t indicated for hair loss in women.
- Spironolactone: This oral medication is an effective treatment for androgenic alopecia. It’s commonly prescribed for women with PCOS.
- Oral dutasteride: This prescription is used off-label to prevent and treat hair loss.
- Microneedling: New studies show microneedling as a promising treatment for hair loss, especially when used with minoxidil.
- Hair transplant surgery: In the most common type of hair loss, only the top of the head is affected. A hair transplant harvests hair from an unaffected area and moves it to a bald spot.
Each hair loss treatment has unique benefits, and some medications may work better for you than others. The best way to determine the necessary treatment is to schedule an appointment with our office.
Schedule Your Hair Loss Treatment Consultation Today
If you are experiencing hair loss and are seeking treatment, visit Sarasota Dermatology. Our providers, including board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Callahan, are experienced in hair loss treatment and have served the Sarasota, Florida community for over 15 years. At SkinSmart Dermatology®, we treat a wide variety of skin problems and care for every individual patient with a personal touch. Schedule an appointment by calling 941-308-7546 or filling out the form on our contact page.