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Reasons For and Signs of Hair Loss

Hair loss can be a distressing change in appearance. It can also signify a health problem that can be treated successfully. Your doctor can zero in on what’s causing your hair loss with a physical exam, family history and blood tests. These can look for vitamin deficiencies such as a low iron level.

Radiation to the Scalp

In some cases, radiation to the scalp or brain can cause hair loss in the area treated. It usually happens only after a few treatments and only in some people. Hair usually grows back after treatment ends, but it might be thinner or have a different texture. You can opt for hair replacement services. A variety of treatments and procedures to restore lost hair are included in this service. Hair grafts with either natural or synthetic hair are included in the broad category of hair replacement, which provides for many other hair restoration techniques. The easiest way to determine the appropriate procedure is to consult a hair expert.

Other causes of hair loss include:

  • A traumatic injury (like a car accident or surgery).
  • A medical condition like thyroid disease or iron deficiency.
  • A psychiatric disorder (such as trichotillomania).

Some medicines can also cause hair loss, including chemotherapy medications and drugs that treat cancer.

To keep hair healthy:

  1. Avoid over-processing it with dyes or bleaches, and use a low-heat setting on hair dryers.
  2. If you have a scalp-related hair problem, let your radiation oncologist know so they can give you advice and a treatment plan.
  3. Tell your doctors about other issues, like a fungal infection or hormone imbalance.

Lichen planopilaris

Lichen planopilaris affects the skin and other body parts, including the mouth, genitals and hair. It causes a red or purple coloration with a shiny appearance on the affected areas. It can cause itching and pain. The symptoms vary but can include:

  • A discolored patch of the inside cheek or tongue.
  • Sores in the mouth.
  • Loss of hair or nail changes (for example, thinning, longitudinal ridging and ridge formation).

It is not contagious but may be spread through close contact. Although the precise etiology is uncertain, an autoimmune condition is the culprit. The immune system attacks the cells of the skin and hair follicles. Treatment aims to manage the disease’s symptoms and stop their progression. Prescription creams, shampoo and gels are used. There are also tablets called immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine, cyclosporine and methotrexate that help reduce inflammation. These are very effective and have a lower risk of causing hair loss than steroid tablets. Many hair treatment solutions have changed from the iconic rat’s nest appearance of early wigs due to technological advancements and the demand for improved hair loss treatments. For instance, non-surgical hair replacement options are available, which include attaching new hair to regions with sparse or no hair. 

Tinea capitis

A fungal condition called tinea capitis results in a flaky, itchy scalp and bald areas. It is most common in children but can also affect adults. People with weakened immune systems can also get it, as well as pets and farm animals. The fungi that cause it can spread from one person to another through contact or via damp surfaces like locker room showers or shared hair brushes. The symptoms of tinea capitis can be similar to other conditions, such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, and sometimes it is hard to diagnose. A healthcare provider can shine a special type of ultraviolet light, called a Wood light, on your child’s scalp to see if the area glows yellow or green. It can help distinguish ringworm from other conditions. A healthcare provider may also do a potassium hydroxide wet mount of plucked hairs and scale to look at the fungi under a microscope.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania (commonly abbreviated as TTM) is a mental health condition that affects people by making them compulsively pull their hair. It often leads to bald patches, which can be mistaken for other infections such as alopecia areata or ringworm. People suffering from this disorder have trouble controlling their urges and often spend hours pulling their hair. This behavior is often triggered by stress or depression. The good news is that this disorder can be treated with therapy. The most popular kind of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes called habit reversal training, which teaches patients alternative behaviors to help them stop tearing their hair out. People who can stop this behavior usually find that their anxiety and depression also decrease. It is important to note that many people who suffer from trichotillomania hide their condition and do not seek help because they feel embarrassed about it. It can lead to problems in work and social situations; some even turn to alcohol or street drugs for comfort.

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