In Alopecia Areata, round patches of hair loss appear suddenly. The hair loss is often discovered by a barber or hairdresser. The hair-growing tissue stops making hair, and the hair then falls out from the roots. Why this happens is a mystery. Alopecia Areata is not contagious; not caused by foods. It is often stress-related, and it sometimes runs in families.
Alopecia Areata has three stages. First, there is sudden hair loss. Then the patches of hair loss may enlarge. Last, new hair grows back. This takes months sometimes more than a year.
Hair usually grows back by itself, but slowly. Sometimes the new hair is temporarily gray or white but after awhile the original color usually returns.
Cortisone injections often stimulate hair regrowth. In the cortisone-injection treatment, a cortisone compound is injected into the hair-loss area. The treatment is safe and almost always successful over time.
Female Hair Loss
You have noticed a gradual and progressive increase in the number of hairs lost with each brushing and combing – more hair on the comb, more hair in the brush, more hair in the drain.
And, after months or years, a realization that there has occurred visible thinning.
The healthy scalp loses between 50 and 120 hairs daily.
The major factors in what the Dermatologist terms “female-pattern diffuse hair loss” are: hormonal changes, heredity and the aging process.
Hormonal changes are those that occur after childbirth and with certain types of endocrine imbalances (eg. Thyroid trouble, ovarian problems). In addition, if you are taking the low dose birth control pill, you may be experiencing hair loss.
Hereditary factors also play a strong role in female-pattern hair loss. If your mother or grandmother has sparse hair, you (and possibly your daughter) may be a strong factor in female hair loss.
Other causes of thinning of scalp hair in today’s woman may be due to certain lifestyle habits, medical circumstances and the products used for beautification. Here are some examples:
Mechanical tension on the hair shaft due to new hair styles and cosmetic aids. These cause injury to the hair follicle and when prolonged; interfere with the scalp’s circulation. Examples include unusual stretching, pulling and teasing; brush rollers and curlers; tight, restrictive hair styles including braids, buns, ponytails; vigorous combing and brushing; hot combs. Sharp-tooth nylon and metal combs and brushes also cause mechanical injury to the hair shaft and follicle.
Excessive chemical exposure associated with hair styling (for example, permanent solutions, bleaches and hair straighteners); increased exposure to synthetic detergents and other additives in commercial shampoos, dyes and hair sprays.
- Nutritional deficiencies such as those seen in “crash-dieters”, vegetarians who may develop protein malnutrition, and in those suffering from iron deficiency anemia.
- General anesthesia during surgical operations.
- Various drugs used to treat cancer and anti-coagulants (blood thinners) used in heart disease.
- Excessive smoking (a more recent suspect).
- Emotional stress and tension, which are believed to impair the circulation of the hair follicle.
A Few Basic Do’s and Don’t’s for Healthy Hair
- Shampoo your hair regularly, daily if at all possible. Use the shampoo we recommend for you.
- If you comb and brush your hair, use only natural bristle brushes and hard rubber (Ace) combs. Don’t use the plastic or metal varieties.
- Reduce excessive mechanical manipulation of the hair shaft. Avoid teasing and ratting, vigorous combing and brushing; tight restrictive hairstyles: tight braids and ponytails; and excessive hot combing. Hair responds best to gentle care.
- Avoid excessive bleaching, dyeing, and hair straightening.
- Keep up your general health, avoid crash diets, and cut down on smoking.
- If you are taking the low-dose birth control pill, ask your gynecologist if you may change these to the higher-dose variety.
- Avoid emotional stress and tension.
Don’t be misled by advertisements and commercials for potions that promise to grow hair. Remember, be patient and don’t get discouraged. If your scalp is healthy, hair will regrow with time and appropriate treatment.
Folliculitis is an inflammation that can appear as many small red raised bumps and/or small pus-filled lesions at the hair follicle. It may be uncomfortable, itchy, and painful. Crusts may form. These lesions may appear on the scalp, face, arms, legs and buttocks. When they occur in the beard area, it is termed Pseudofolliculitis. Generally with treatment there is little or no scarring.
What causes Folliculitis?
The inflammation of the follicle may be due to an infection, usually bacteria, or from contact with certain chemicals, from the friction of tight clothing, or from certain contaminated facilities such as whirlpools, hot tubs and swimming pools.
Pseudofolliculitis results from beard or body hairs that become ingrown and is usually seen in individuals with highly curved and tough hairs. Treatment
The mainstay of therapy for folliculitis includes both oral and topical antibiotics.
The treatment course of antibiotics can be for 2 weeks to indefinitely. Another therapy sometimes used concurrently is cortisone steroid cream/ointment.
For Folliculitis of the scalp – use a Selsun (selenium sulfide) shampoo 2-3 x/week. For Folliculitis of the beard – stop shaving if possible. If you are unable to stop shaving, use an electric shaver rather than a razor. If you use a razor, change the blade daily. You may also be prescribed an antibacterial soap for the face and/or an antibiotic mixed with a steroid cream applied twice daily to the lesions.
Please remember: even if Folliculitis does recur, it can usually be controlled with relatively simple and safe measures.
Pseudofolliculitis is a skin condition also known as razor bumps. This condition tends to occur in patients with curly hair. The curly hair grows back into the skin, and causes the skin to get irritated. A red tender bump may form at the ingrown hair site. Shaving can aggravate this condition.
The best treatment is to not shave. Allow the hair to grow into a full beard. Use clippers to trim beard edges. There are things you can do to keep this condition under control if you cannot wear a beard.
If you shave less frequently than every three days, use a hair removal cream such as Nair. Use the cream form of Nair as directed. Avoid using the Nair more than every 2-3 days. After the Nair has been used, you may wish to use a sensitive skin lotion for irritation.
If you shave more frequently than every three days, use an electric shaver or clippers. This prevents cutting the hair too closely to the skin surface. It is advisable to use an electric shave product prior to shaving.
If you wish to shave with a blade, use a disposable blade and a gel-shaving product such as Edge Gel. Apply a warm compress to the area prior to applying the gel. Shave with the grain of the hair. You may have to wait a few days to allow the hair to grow out to see exactly which direction the hair grows. Shave in the same direction of the hair growth.
After shaving you may wish to apply products which your doctor has prescribed to help control the irritation. You may also use a sensitive skin lotion after shaving.