What to Look for and How to Treat It
Losing your hair can be an emotionally rocky experience, no matter the root cause. Society places a lot of value on appearances and aesthetics. And since a man’s hair is often front (read top) and centre — one can see why losing it might be a problem.
But having more information about why your hair is falling out can be helpful for a variety of reasons. It might offer some relief, knowing that it’s a result of the natural aging process and not a more serious condition. Perhaps most importantly, though, understanding what’s causing hair loss is an important step in coming up with a strategy to treat it.
Here are some of the most common forms of hair loss and how to treat them.
By far and away the most common of all hair loss, some studies estimate that male-pattern baldness will affect between 30% and 50% of all men by the time they reach the age of 50. It usually takes the form of a gradually receding hairline around the temples or a bald spot at the top of the head — sometimes both. Genetics and hormones both play an important role in this kind of hair loss.
Topical foams and sprays and oral tablets designed for hair loss are normally the first line of attack in slowing hair loss and promoting hair growth. Surgical hair transplant procedures can also be effective in combating hair loss — though these can cost thousands of dollars and require recovery time.
Spot baldness often results in round bald patches that can occur on the scalp, face or other parts of the body. It is an autoimmune disease that affects around 2% of the population in Canada and the U.S. If you’ve noticed bald patches on your head, beard or other parts of your body, or are rapidly losing hair, consult a doctor.
There is no permanent cure for alopecia areata (AA), so treatments are often focused on disrupting the body’s autoimmune response. Doctors may inject corticosteroids directly into the balding patches, or prescribe some medication.
Alopecia Totalis (AT) is considered an advanced form of Spot Baldness, where instead of individual patches appearing surrounded by normal healthy hair, hair loss has affected the entire scalp. It can also extend to a complete loss of facial hair as well.
In general, treatment for AT will be similar to that of Alopecia Areata. Since AT is less localized than AA, spot injections are less likely to work. A certified dermatologist will be your best resource in treating hair loss due to Alopecia Totalis.
This is the most advanced form of Alopecia Areata. Individuals living with Alopecia Universalis will have complete hair loss on the scalp, face, and body. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, it affects 1% of the population.
Like its close relatives AT and AA, AU treatments can include chemical applications such as diphencyprone (DPCP), dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) or squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE).
This type of hair loss is a psychological condition in which an individual pulls their own hair out, despite trying to stop. It can result in bald patches or broken hair, and range from mild to compulsive.
Treatment for Trichotillomania involves understanding the underlying mental distress that could be causing the condition, and making modifications to one’s behaviour. If you or someone you know might be suffering from Trichotillomania, talk to your doctor.
Finding the right treatment options for combatting your particular type of hair loss starts with consulting a qualified medical professional. While completely regrowing one’s hair is normally not possible, there are medical interventions that can help.