Alopecia commonly known as hair loss is a medical condition that can result in temporary or permanent loss of hair on the scalp and/or the rest of the body. This condition affects mostly male-identifying patients and can be caused by certain factors such as other medical conditions, hormone changes, family history, or aging
Hair loss is very common in all people:
- By the age of 50, approximately 85 percent of male-identifying patients will have significantly thinner hair.
- 80 million men and women in America have hereditary hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
- By the age of 50, approximately 40 percent of female-identifying patients have some amount of hair loss.
There can be a variety of risk factors for hair loss, these include but are not limited to:
- Family history & age: Male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness are a hereditary condition that results in gradual hair loss as you age.
- Other medical conditions: Including hormonal changes (like from pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid problems), alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition), diabetes, lupus, and scalp infections (like ringworm).
- Medications and supplements: Drugs used to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure can all cause hair loss. An excess of certain supplements such as selenium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, can also cause hair loss.
- Mental health: Stress can result in a temporary loss of hair. Trichotillomania is also a psychological condition where a patient pulls their own hair out. The resulting hair loss from this is also usually temporary.
- Hairstyles: Certain hairstyles or treatments can cause hair loss, including hot-oil treatments, use of hot hair tools like straightening irons, tight pigtails, and tight cornrows.
- Cancer treatment: Radiation to the head can cause hair loss. While this is often temporary, hair might grow back differently.
- Poor nutrition: An unhealthy diet, especially one low in iron or protein, can contribute to hair loss.
- Smoking: Smoking causes inflammation, which can also cause hair loss.
The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss. However, how the hair loss occurs—and the severity of it varies between patients. For some, it can happen quickly, while for others it could be a gradual process. The most commonplace for hair loss is the scalp, but it can also happen in other parts of the body.
Hair loss commonly occurs as a gradual thinning of hair on your head, a receding hairline, patchy bald spots, hair that falls out easily, patches of scales on your scalp, and/or full body hair loss.
Hair loss is different from hair shedding. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s common to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day.
Your primary care physician will guide you through an initial diagnosis. If the primary care physician cannot accomplish this based on the resources available, he or she may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
A psychologist is a physician skilled in observing, interpreting, and recording a patient’s varied mental states and behaviors. The psychologist will use this information to help diagnose the patient. If the patient is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the psychologist will begin appropriate treatment to work through anxious tendencies and thought processes.
A psychiatrist is a physician skilled in psychiatry, a branch of medicine dedicated to mental health. The psychiatrist can diagnose a patient and offer appropriate prescription treatment if the patient is severely affected by one or more anxiety disorders.
Based on your unique symptoms and other preexisting medical conditions, a medical expert can diagnose your condition. If diagnosed, you will be provided with more information regarding your specific anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder will likely require some form of treatment. Your physician will recommend appropriate treatment which may include (but is not limited to):
- Therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy or meditation)
- Medication (antidepressants with a concentration on anxiety, anxiolytics, sedatives, nerve pain medication, etc.)
- Self-care (physical exercise, sobriety, healthy diet, increased water consumption,reduced caffeine consumption, etc.)