20 June, 2010

Causes and Treatment of Hair Loss

Thinning hair and progressive baldness is something that can seriously affect self image and self esteem in both men and women.
With men, however, it is something that is more or less accepted as a natural occurrence by society at large. In fact, about fifty percent of the general population experience normal hair loss by the time they reach 50 years old. We may not like it, but sooner or later half of us are forced to accept it.

Hair loss in women, though, is often perceived in a much different way.

Male pattern baldness is an all too common phenomenon which at the moment has no known cure. It is something that is determined largely by genetics.

Its development can however be slowed down with the correct treatment. Read on for more information on this.

Alopecia is a form of hair loss that is a medical condition. It can occur at any age, though it generally affects females more than males.

There are several variations of alopecia:

Androgenic Alopecia

As mentioned above, this is the variation of alopecia which is commonly known as 'male pattern baldness'. Often hereditary, this condition can in fact affect both sexes.

Treatment to slow down androgenic alopecia is available. Applying minoxidil (Rogaine) to the surface area and taking finasteride (Propecia) orally have proven to be beneficial here. So if this condition is affecting you, be sure to consult your doctor or health advisor about possible treatment.

Natural approaches that have proved successful in preliminary studies include saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol. Consult your health food store for more information on these particular supplements.

Alopecia Areata

This is patchy hair loss, affecting different sections of the head, which tends to affect teenagers and young adults more than older people.

This can be a hereditary condition and for many - but not all - is unsightly and embarrassing but temporary, generally lasting about a year. Changes of hormone levels during pregnancy can sometimes trigger the condition.

Alopecia Totalis

Some sufferers of alopecia areata continue to lose hair until they have none left on the scalp. This is known as alopecia totalis.

Alopecia Universalis

As the name suggests, alopecia universalis is the term given to loss of all bodily hair.

Telogen Effluvium

Temporary thinning of the hair, telogen effluvium is not restricted to the scalp and can affect all bodily hair growth. This condition can last for a few months and may be caused by certain medications.

Be sure to check with your doctor if you are taking medication which appears to increase your hair loss.

Hair Loss due to Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy.

Many people receiving treatment for cancer often experience total hair loss. Because this is a widely experienced and well known side effect, specialist support and wigs are available which can help until the hair regrows.

Hair Loss due to Hairdressing Treatments

Excessive use of chemicals, or a bad reaction to the chemicals used in hair treatments such as permanents, can result in hair loss. It can also be brought on by long term frequent use of overly hot implements such as hair straighteners and curling tongs. In the latter case the hair cuticle will often become brittle causing it to break. Most people who experience hair loss due to hairdressing will find re-growth once they stop using the trigger items.

Hair Loss in Children

Children can suffer from alopecia areata and any bald patches should be reported to a doctor promptly in order to begin treatment. Children may be referred on to a dermatologist specializing in hair loss.

Hair loss in children can be caused by trauma of the scalp and hair because of hair being too tightly pulled or plaited over a long period of time.

A more common reason is a fungal infection called tinea capitis which can affect head hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. When noticed, the child should be seen by a doctor.

Prevention and Treatment

In addition to the above mentioned medically prescribed pharmaceuticals and natural supplements it is wise to cover all bases.

Research has shown that some forms of hair loss can be caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet. This being the case, it is prudent to ensure that a healthy and varied diet is eaten. However if hair loss starts to occur despite healthy eating then a doctor can refer you for vitamin deficiency tests.

It may also be that a separate condition or medication could be preventing the body from absorbing vitamins and minerals from the food being eaten. Again, consult with your doctor in order to determine if this is in fact the case.

Stress is a recognised trigger for hair loss and this is especially so with alopecia areata. In this case, prevention of further hair loss means examining and managing daily stress levels as much as possible.

An excellent way to handle stress is by learning self hypnosis or by listening to good self hypnosis CDs or downloads. You can find a link to my own recordings in the resource box at the bottom of the page.

Self diagnosis is, however, not the ideal way to treat your specific hair loss type. If you are experiencing excessive hair loss it would be wise to see a doctor who can arrange tests and if necessary get treatment started, or refer you on to a specialist.

Knowing the medical definition of your particular hair loss is one thing, but coping with it emotionally can be very difficult and support is often critical.

It helps enormously if there is acceptance and understanding from the sufferer's family and friends. This is extremely helpful as hair loss can seriously undermine the sufferer's sense of worthiness, attractiveness etc and can even result in severe depression. If this is the case, then your doctor should be able to refer you for counseling, self help groups or a wig service.

Hypnotherapy is also a valuable way of increasing self assurance, self esteem and self image while also helping you to manage stress and discomfort.

By working with an experienced hypnotherapist or listening to effective self hypnosis CDs or downloads you can improve the way you handle life's stresses - and positively change the way you feel about yourself.

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