Going, Going, Gone: Hair Loss 101
Most people will first notice hair loss on their pillow or in the shower, says Michele Raithel, ND, at Revolutions Naturopathics.
However, the causes of hair loss can range from genetic to stress to hormone imbalances. “It can be a reaction to stress [or] a reaction to toxic dyes,” Dr. Raithel says. “Many times, it’s related to hormone imbalances in the thyroid or with shifts in sex hormone production. Hair loss can also be caused by bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Genetics typically is a predisposition to a reaction to precipitating events.”
Pattern alopecia is one of the most common types of hair loss, and it can be seen in both men and women, says Dr. Oma Agbai, health sciences assistant professor of dermatology and director of the Multicultural Dermatology and Hair Disorders Clinic at UC Davis Health. “In men, a receding hair line could be one of the first signs. In women, it may be a widening part line at the crown of the scalp,” she says.
In general, hair loss can mean different things, and it’s worth consulting your doctor to get to the root of the cause. “It’s important to be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist if you’re experiencing hair loss, because certain medical conditions and nutritional deficiencies could be causing it,” Dr. Agbai says.
The most important thing is to communicate with your doctor about your hair loss as soon as you notice any changes. “When diagnosed and treated early, many types of hair loss can be slowed, stopped, or even reversed,” Dr. Agbai says.
Following a check-up, what are the typical treatment options to possibly slow or stop your hair loss? You can use over-the-counter treatments with minoxidil five percent foam or solution, which Dr. Agbai says can be applied once daily to the areas of hair loss for women and twice daily for men. “Minoxidil can take months to work, and some patients might be allergic to it. Also, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet and exercise, as this can promote healthy hair. A doctor can discuss additional therapies for hair loss, such as prescription medications and even scalp injections,” she says.
Dr. Raithel says, “Seeing a naturopathic doctor will provide a broad spectrum of testing to help identify the cause and [course] for treatment,” she shares. She also recommends identifying nutritional or hormonal imbalances as the first course of action. “If P. acnes is involved, an antibacterial regimen can help. Peptide therapy and PRP or injections with biological allograft containing stem cells can also be an option for some,” she says. “Hair loss is difficult to treat and should be addressed as early in the process as possible.”
By Kourtney Jason