We’re hardwired to look at someone with thick shiny hair and admire it. Intrinsically, we decipher it to mean that the rest of the body is so healthy that it can divert extra energy to the hair. This is part of the reason it can be tough for those losing their hair, even though there are several reasons for hair loss in otherwise healthy people and hair loss doesn’t necessarily mean someone is unhealthy. While we’re all familiar with hair loss in men, women lose hair, too, and it’s more common than you might think. Regardless of who is experiencing it, hair loss can cause emotional distress.
Some Hair Loss Is Normal
If you’re noticing a lot of loose strands, the first thing to remember is not to panic. The average person loses between 50-150 strands of hair a day – more when hair is washed – so it’s normal to lose what may sometimes feel like a lot of hair per day. If you feel distressed about the amount of hair you’re losing, the best course of action is to see your dermatologist so that if treatment is available, it can be started as soon as possible. Additional stress isn’t going to help, and may actually cause you to lose more hair in the process.
The Many Causes of Hair Loss
If you start noticing an unusual amount of hair loss or patches of thinning hair, there could be several reasons for this. First, it could be androgenetic alopecia, which is a hereditary condition that causes male and female pattern hair loss. This is actually the most common reason for hair loss in both men and women.
There could be other reasons for hair loss in both males and females.
Among these reasons for women are hormonal problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and autoimmune disorders such as lupus or lichen planopilaris. Pregnancy is also a cause of hair loss in women. Additionally, some hair treatments and hair styles can cause damage to the hair follicles. Over time, this can cause scarring hair loss.
Men can experience hair loss for a variety of reasons as well, including hereditary conditions. Some medications and changes in medications can also lead to hair loss in both men and women, as can thyroid disorders or anemia. Stress or dramatic weight loss may also play a part.
Go Easy on Your Hair
First thing’s first – see your dermatologist. There are other things you can do, too. I recommend avoiding tight hair styles such as tight ponytails or braids as these styles can lead to scarring that prevents hair from growing. Also, minimize the use of thermal styling tools such as blow dryers, curling irons or straighteners on your hair. These can break hair and make it more fragile. The bottom line is that if you think you’re experiencing hair loss, it is important to see a dermatologist as soon as possible so that if there is a potential treatment, it can be started as soon as possible.
Dr. Kimberly Mullinax is a board-certified dermatologist at Kelsey-Seybold’s Pearland Clinic. She treats skin conditions for all ages from infants to seniors. Warts, molluscum, abscesses, ingrown nails, skin cancers and other conditions are surgically treated right in the exam room. She diagnoses and prescribes treatments for chronic dermatologic problems such as eczema, psoriasis, lupus, lichen planus and other immune disorders.