Hair Loss and Stress
Both emotional and physical stress (such as a serious illness or recovery from surgery) have been associated with hair loss. It is possible that stress induces hormonal changes that are responsible for the hair loss, since hair loss is a known consequence of other hormonal changes due to pregnancy, thyroid disturbances, or even from taking oral contraceptives.
What are causes and risk factors for hair loss?
Because there are many types of hair loss, finding the cause can be challenging. This review will cover the most common causes of hair loss occurring on normal unscarred scalp skin. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia.
Most hair loss is not associated with systemic or internal disease, nor is poor diet a frequent factor. Hair may simply thin as a result of predetermined genetic factors and the overall aging process. Many men and women may notice mild physiologic thinning of hair starting in their 30s and 40s. Life vicissitudes, including illness, emotional trauma, protein deprivation (during strict dieting), and hormonal changes like those in pregnancy, puberty, and menopause may cause hair loss.
Several health conditions, including thyroid disease, iron deficiency anemia, and secondary syphilis, 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 treatable causes of hair loss.
What types of doctors treat hair loss?
A family physician, internist, or gynecologist can perform a 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 necessary.
Although many medications list “hair loss” among their potential side effects, most drugs are not likely to induce hair loss. On the other hand, cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy or radiation therapy) and immunosuppressive medications commonly produce hair loss. Complete hair loss after chemotherapy usually re-grows after six to 12 months.
How do physicians classify hair loss?
There are numerous ways to categorize hair loss. One must first examine the scalp to determine if the hair loss is due to the physical destruction and loss of hair follicles (scarring or cicatricial alopecia). If the scalp appears perfectly normal with plenty of empty hair follicles, this is called non-scarring hair loss. On the other hand, cicatricial alopecia permanently destroys the follicles. Non-scarring hair loss also happens in situations where there is physical or chemical damage to the hair shaft, resulting in breakage. Occasionally, it may be necessary to do a biopsy of the scalp to distinguish these conditions. Sometimes, a physician may pull a hair to examine the appearance of the hair shaft as well as the percentage of growing hairs (anagen phase). This article will concentrate on the non-scarring types of hair loss.
Patchy hair loss
Some conditions produce small areas of hair loss, while others affect large areas of the scalp. Common causes of patchy hair loss are
Diffuse hair loss
Some common causes of diffuse hair loss are