Hair Loss in Men and Women
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
Alan Rockoff, MD
Dr. Rockoff received his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva College with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His internship and two years of Pediatric residency were at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, followed by training in Dermatology at the combined residency program at Tufts and Boston Universities. Dr. Rockoff is certified by both the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Pediatrics.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- What are causes of hair loss?
- How is hair loss classified?
- What is alopecia areata?
- What is traction alopecia?
- What is trichotillomania?
- What is tinea capitis?
- What is generalized (diffuse) hair loss?
- What is telogen effluvium?
- What is androgenetic alopecia ("male-pattern baldness," "female-pattern baldness")?
- What treatment is there for hair loss in men?
- What other options do I have for hair loss?
- Is hair loss in women different than men?
- What about pregnancy hair loss?
- What specific treatments are there for hair loss in women?
- What vitamins are good for hair loss?
- Can itchy scalp cause hair loss?
- How do I prevent hair loss?
- Hair Loss At A Glance
- View Hair Loss Pictures - Slideshow
- Hair and Scalp Pictures - Slideshow
- Take the Hair Loss Quiz!
- Hair Loss FAQs
- Patient Comments: Hair Loss - Treatments
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What are causes of hair loss?
There are many causes of scalp hair loss, and they do differ in men and women. This article will cover the common ones. Studies show that losing up to 100-150 hairs per day is normal. Human hair naturally grows in three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Anagen is the active or growing phase. Catagen is a fairly short phase of the natural hair cycle during which hairs begin to break down. Telogen is the resting phase. The hairs that are shed daily are often in the resting or late phase in the hair cycle. Normally, about 10% of the scalp hairs are in the resting or telogen phase at any time. These hairs are not growing and are getting prepared for cyclic shedding.
In general, most hair loss is not associated with systemic or internal disease, nor is poor diet a frequent factor. Frequently, hair may simply thin as a result of predetermined genetic factors, family history, and the overall aging process. Many men and women may notice a mild and often normal physiologic thinning of hair starting in their thirties and forties. Other times, normal life variations including temporary severe stress, nutritional changes, and hormonal changes like those in pregnancy, puberty, and menopause may cause a reversible hair loss.
Notably, several health conditions, including thyroid disease and iron deficiency anemia, can cause hair loss. While thyroid blood tests and other lab tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), on people who have ordinary hair loss are usually normal, it is important to exclude underlying causes in sudden or severe hair loss. If you are concerned about some other underlying health issues, you may start by seeing your family physician, internist, or gynecologist for basic health screening. Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in problems of skin, hair, and nails and may provide more advanced diagnosis and treatment of hair thinning and loss. Sometimes a scalp biopsy may be taken to help in diagnosis of severe or unexplained hair loss.
Although many medications list "hair loss" among their potential side effects, drugs are also not overall common causes of thinning or lost hair. On the other hand, with cancer treatments and immune suppression medications including chemotherapy, hair loss is a very common side effect. Complete hair loss often occurs after a course of major chemotherapy for cancer. Usually, hair regrows after six to 12 months.
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