What is alopecia or hair loss?
Alopecia or better known as hair loss is a condition in which the amount of hair loss is more than hair that grows. Under normal conditions, the average human hair can fall out from 50-100 strands per day. Baldness occurs when hair loss is more than 100 strands per day.
Depending on the symptoms and illness, alopecia is divided into 3 types. They are:
- Alopecia Areata, bald hair only at certain points on the head.
- Alopecia Totalis, bald hair due to hair loss evenly on all scalp.
- Alopecia Universalis, lost all of the body hair.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most common case is alopecia areata. Hair loss can be temporary or can last longer. This condition is generally related to stress, hormonal changes, hereditary factors, use of certain drugs, and the indication of a disease.
Alopecia can occur in men, women, and children. In some people, hair loss can occur after certain events in life such as illness, pregnancy or trauma. Men over 50 years old and women over 50 who have gone through menopause also more often experience this condition.
This condition has various symptoms and signs depending on the cause. But the typical signs and symptoms of alopecia are:
- Hair loss is more than 100 strands per day.
- Sometimes, a burning or itching sensation on the scalp.
- The bald skin is usually smooth, round, and peach-colored.
Based on its type, other signs and symptoms of alopecia are:
- Alopecia areata. Bald skin can be a spot as big as a circle. Usually, hair loss occurs on the scalp. In some cases, it can also occur on the beard or eyebrows. This condition occurs because the immune system attacks the body itself.
- Alopecia totalis. Hair skin is very easy to fall out when you comb your hair. This type causes thinning hair.
- Alopecia universalis. This condition generally occurs as a result of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Usually, the hair will grow back after that.
When should I see a doctor?
You should see a doctor if your condition does not improve or even worsen. Hair loss that occurs suddenly can be a sign of other diseases that require therapy. So, the more important thing is finding the cause rather than finding the treatment. Inform your doctor if you feel your hair fall out when combed or shampooing normally.
If you have any symptoms above or other questions, consult your doctor. Remember, each person’s body is different. So, always consult a doctor to deal with your health condition.
The exact cause of alopecia is still unknown. Even so, medical experts state that this condition is related to several factors:
- Family history. If your family member experiences baldness, you will also be at high risk of developing a similar condition. Family history can also show the age when will experience hair loss.
- Hormone. Hormonal changes and imbalances can cause temporary hair loss. Hormonal changes can occur due to pregnancy, birth or near menopause. The thyroid gland also affects hormone levels which can cause hair loss.
- Skin condition. Scalp infections or skin diseases such as lupus, lichen planus can cause hair loss that is potentially bald.
- Drug induction. Cancer drugs, arthritis, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure can cause hair loss. Pregnancy control pills and excessive vitamin A can also cause this condition.
- Hair pulling habit. This condition is also called trichotillomania, which causes a person to pull out the hair on the scalp, eyebrows or other parts of the body.
Some risk factors that increase a person experiencing alopecia are:
- If your family members experience hair loss, you are also very at high risk with this condition.
- The risk of alopecia will further increase with age.
- Hair becomes brittle and falls out easily when you are malnourished.
- Some diseases can increase your risks such as diabetes and lupus erythematosus.
- Having abnormal nail color, shape, texture, or thickness.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
Temporary hair loss will grow back normally if you can overcome the cause. In many cases, alopecia is a condition that cannot be avoided as we get older. If you are concerned that hair loss can interfere with your appearance, you can do some treatment for alopecia.
1. Drug Therapy
The drugs that most often used to treat hair loss are Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia). Minoxidil can be a liquid or soap solution. Minoxidil helps to reduce hair loss and helps hair grow back, while finasteride is usually in the form of oral medication and only given to men.
In addition, the corticosteroid drug injection version can also grow bald hair within 4 weeks. What needs to be understood, each drug can have different effects on each person. So, first, consult with your doctor to find out which is most appropriate for your condition.
The doctor will do surgery if your hair falls out permanently. Hair implantation is usually done on the scalp. Even so, this procedure requires a large cost and can cause pain.
3. Laser Therapy
Laser therapy can help patients reduce hair loss and help hair grow back thicker.
4. Using a Wig
If other therapies are not effective, wearing a wig or wig is a safe alternative.
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Various lifestyle changes and home treatment options that can help you overcome alopecia are:
- Wash hair gently, as well as combing hair.
- Use a shampoo that suits your hair type.
- Avoid hair coloring, curling, and straightening. Let your hair grow naturally according to its original color and shape.
- Avoid pigtails, bun, and braiding hair too tight.
- Avoid twisting, pulling, or rubbing your hair.
- Use a wide comb to comb your hair.
- After shampooing, dry your hair only with a towel. Simply pat wet hair and avoid twisting the hair using a towel.
- Pay attention to the intake of foods that are highly nutritious for hair.
- Do not comb hair while hair is still wet.
- Use conditioner to soften the hair so that it is easy to comb.
- Let your doctor know if you experience signs of infection after using steroids. The signs can be redness, swelling, pain and burning sensation at the injection site.
If you have questions, consult your doctor for the best solution for your problem.