Our parish nurse Jan Sandos provides us with a monthly column keeping us informed of pertinent medical information.
Matthew 10:30—“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Hair loss affects millions of men and women each day. Regardless of age or sex, it can be a distress for those dealing with it. Hair loss, also known as alopecia or baldness, refers to a loss of hair from part of the head or body. Typically just the head is involved. But the severity of hair loss can vary from a small area to the entire body. Typically inflammation or scarring is not present. Hair loss in some people causes psychological distress.
Common types include: male-pattern hair loss, female-pattern hair loss, alopecia areata, and a thinning of hair, telogen effluvium. The cause of male-pattern hair loss is a combination of genetics and male hormones. The cause of female pattern hair loss is unclear. The cause of alopecia areata is autoimmune. And the cause of thinning hair is typically a physically or psychologically stressful event. Thinning hair is very common following pregnancy.
Less common causes of hair loss without inflammation or scarring include the pulling out of hair; certain medications including chemotherapy; HIV/AIDS; hypothyroidism; malnutrition including iron deficiency; thyroid disease; and hormonal changes. Causes of hair loss that occurs with scarring or inflammation include fungal infection, lupus, radiation therapy, and sarcoidosis. Diagnosis of hair loss is partly based on the areas affected.
There are natural and preventable causes of hair loss. The first factor is genetics, the hand of cards you were dealt at birth. Other natural causes are damage/breakage from weathering and aging. Controllable causes are hair treatments like blowouts, application of high heat, and traction alopecia, which is caused by wearing too many tight pony tails, braids, or extensions.
Hair serves more than the functions of an insulator and a protectant from light. Hair often creates a style and provides a sense of beauty and confidence. Often, hair loss is a factor in losing one’s confidence. One thing to keep in mind is that an average individual can shed approximately 125 hair fibers each day. This is normal, but it will be more noticeable for those who do not have regrowth happening, or for those with thinning hair.
If a concern is present, a dermatologist will help identify the type of hair loss and help explain why it’s happening. Then a treatment plan can be discussed. Whether treating hair loss with medications, devices, platelet-rich plasma, or just treating inflammation directly, there are treatments and coping methods for all. Regardless of the type, coping is a natural process in dealing with hair loss. Talk to your doctor for ways to regrow hair or prevent further hair loss.