Hair Loss

Revealed: 7 Surprising Causes of Hair Loss and their Surefire Cures

As you probably know, your genes are the No. 1 reason that you will either grow old with a full head of hair or start losing it before you hit middle age. What you may not know is that genetics is merely one of many things that can contribute to hair loss. In fact, there are seven surprising causes of hair loss, many of which are 100 percent treatable.

No. 1: The Economy

Courtesy of AAFPRS

Believe it or not, the economy can actually play a role in hair loss. During difficult economic times, stress and worry can take a significant toll on us. And while we may not literally be pulling out our hair (that's called trichotillomania, and is a separate issue altogether), stress-induced hair loss (telogen effluvium) is a reality for many.

Treatment: The loss of hair will subside if and when the stress dissipates. This takes time, but yoga, massage and deep breathing exercises can help you cope with stress and its effects. Namaste.

No. 2: Your Little Bundle of Joy

Many women notice that their hair starts to thin or fall out after pregnancy. The culprit? The hormonal fluctuations that make you cry arbitrarily can also trigger hair loss. And it's not just the pesky hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. Menopause or an underactive thyroid also can cause hair loss. Hair growth depends on the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, and if yours is producing abnormal levels of the thyroid hormone, you may start to lose your hair.

Treatment: Don't panic. If hormones are causing your hair loss, it's reversible. As your hormone levels return to normal, your hair will return. If your thyroid is out of whack, treatment will help with all of the symptoms, including hair loss.

No. 3: Zit Medicine

The same miracle creams that help rid your face of unwanted blemishes may trigger hair loss. It's not just acne medications either; many medications can cause hair loss. Don't believe us? Just read those drug labels. The list of medications that can cause hair loss includes antibiotics, anti-fungals, antidepressants, birth control pills, anti-clotting drugs, cholesterol medications, immunosuppressants, chemotherapy drugs, epilepsy drugs, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, diuretics, hormone replacement therapy, mood stabilizers, Parkinson's disease medications and steroids.

Treatment: The good news here is that changing medication may reverse or halt hair loss, but don't change anything without first discussing it with your doctor.

No. 4: Severe Dandruff

Certain fungal infections of the scalp, including seborrheic dermatitis (aka dandruff), may cause hair loss. Others include ringworm, folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) or Piedra (trichomycosis nodularis), which happens when the hair fibers are infected by a fungus.

Treatment: Once your doctor examines your scalp and determines that a fungal infection is causing hair loss, he or she can prescribe an anti-fungal medication.

No. 5: Your Flare for Fashion

Whatever your fancy, be it weaves or clip-ons, hair extensions are in vogue. A surprising result of this trend, however, is that many women in their 20s and 30s are suffering from hair loss from all of the associated tugging and pulling. Generally speaking, the tighter the weave or clip-on, the greater the risk for hair loss, especially in women who already have thinning hair. Other hair loss culprits related to style and panache include frequent blow drying or flat-ironing, chemical relaxers or straighteners, highlights, low lights and hair dyes. Is it really worth it?

Treatment: Change your ways ASAP or you may find yourself contemplating a hair transplant at a very young age. Today's hair transplants look a lot more natural than ever before, but they can cost as much as $15,000 and come with their share of risks, including bleeding and infection. As such, hair transplants are best reserved for those who have lost their hair naturally.

No. 6: Your Figure

You've been working hard to get back into your college jeans, and the results are starting to show; only now your traffic-stopping figure is marred by hair loss. Diets and eating disorders — as well as the nutritional shortfalls that they may trigger — can play a role in hair loss.

Treatment: Discuss your eating habits with your doctor if you are experiencing hair loss. There's nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight and feel great, but do it safely and healthfully.

No. 7: Your Immune System

Hair loss may be an early warning sign of an underlying autoimmune disease like lupus or diabetes. Some women with hair loss may have antibodies at the hair-follicle level. This means that their hair follicles are literally attacking themselves, causing autoimmune hair loss.

Treatment: Treating the underlying disease can improve all symptoms. Topical and oral anti-inflammatory drugs can slow hair loss in women if it is caused by an immune system malfunction.

Maybe it's the Genes After All

If none of these surprise causes is behind your hair loss, it may be hereditary. Hair transplants are an option. The technology has improved with follicular extraction. This involves harvesting groups of one to four hairs (follicular units) to transplant, as opposed to larger clumps. Some doctors also prescribe medications such as finasteride (Propecia) for men with hair loss who have had transplants to slow down or stop hair loss. Another exciting option is Latisse. Commonly used to treat the eye disease glaucoma as well as lackluster eyelashes, Latisse may one day help cure baldness.

Talk to a facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist to better understand your options.

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    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

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    Mune Gowda, MD

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    Sean Maguire, MD

    Physician's Center for Beauty
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    Louisville, KY 40207
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