Going Bald? Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know About Hair Loss

balding man brushing hair

Hair loss can be a cause for panic for some as they get older. However, it is a common condition affecting both men and women. So what causes hair loss and how can you treat it?

Five Facts About Hair Loss

Here are 5 facts about hair loss, it’s causes, and how you can treat it.

It’s in your genes (and hormones, too)

Did your parents suffer from hair loss? If so, we’ve got some bad news for you: you have a 95% chance of experiencing hair loss as well.

However, hair loss isn’t purely genetic; hormones can contribute to it as well. Sex hormones known as androgens can trigger hair loss. While these hormones are present in both men and women, they have a much stronger effect on men due to the hormone testosterone. This is why men are more likely to suffer greater degrees of hair loss than women.

Medical conditions may also trigger hair loss

The main culprit contributing to hair loss when it comes to medical conditions isn’t the condition itself, but rather the drugs used to treat it. Cancer treatment drugs (specifically chemotherapy drugs), and birth control pills are known to contribute to hair loss on some occasions. Stress, child birth, nutritional deficiencies, and infections could also cause hair loss. If you notice you've suddenly begun losing your hair, and you've recently started a new medication or had a change in your health, check with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

There are 2 different types of hair loss

There are two different types of hair loss: androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata.

Androgenetic alopecia occurs in both men and women and is often referred to as male or female pattern baldness. In men, the hair loss begins around the scalp and slowly makes its way to the back. This typically results in bald spots or patches on the top of the head. For women, the process is similar, but the thinning throughout the scalp is typically more diffused. It is rare that women will develop bald spots or patches. While there are many treatment options available, there is currently no cure for androgenetic alopecia.

On the other hand, alopecia areata is a less common autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles. This condition may cause hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body including bald spots that are about the size of a quarter or larger. Men, women, and even children may be affected by alopecia areata. While there is no cure and this disease is trickier to treat, it can often be managed with medications, and at times the hair may even grow back on its own.

Hair loss can be treated with medications

For patients with only mild – to moderate hair loss, medication may be the best form of treatment. Minoxidil topical solution and Finasteride tablets are common medications for treating hair loss. They can restore lost hair on the scalp and crown and prevent further hair loss from occurring. It's important to note, however, that they must be taken consistently in order to remain effective.

Hair Transplantation is a better option for some

For those with more severe hair loss, medication may not be enough. A better alternative may be hair transplantation. Hair transplants are more permanent and low-maintenance than most hair loss medications. Barry Hendler, MD, physician at Penn Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, explains, “The most important consideration when performing a hair transplant is having a keen eye to the future of the patient’s hair loss. A hair transplant is a solution for the rest of a patient’s life.”

When you choose Penn Medicine for your hair transplant, you can expect the use of advanced procedures and tools including microfollicular grafting techniques. This procedure leaves virtually no scarring and allows the hair to be genetically programmed to keep growing and to look as natural as possible. “This technique transplants well over 1,000 follicles during one sitting. Once transplanted, the hair “rests” for three months and patients begin to see results in 9-12 months”, David Stanton, MD, physician at Penn Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery explains.

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