What causes hair loss or alopecia?
The commonest form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. In simple terms it means hair loss related to your genes and male hormones. This affects roughly 50% of men and women older than 40 years. It may affect 75% of women older than 65 years. It usually becomes noticeable prior to age 40 years starting as early as 30 years in some.
Women generally lose hair diffusely over the crown. This produces a gradual thinning of the hair rather than an area of marked baldness. The hairline is often preserved in women whereas men note a gradual recession of the hairline early in the process.
Alopecia areata can cause tremendous emotional and psychosocial stress. This usually presents with patches of hair loss, it may be a single or multiple patches affecting scalp, beard or anywhere on the body. It may be a small or a large patch and can sometimes affect the whole scalp or the whole body. This is usually treated with steroid creams and/ or injections. It is best to seek help of your GP or dermatologist as treatments are available on the NHS.
Anagen effluvium sudden severe hair loss after exposure to toxic chemicals, certain drugs including chemotherapeutic agents and heavy metal toxicity. Treatment of underlying cause after diagnostic testing is required.
Telogen effluvium- sudden diffuse hair loss can be caused by any stressful life events, pregnancy etc. It usually recovers by the time cause becomes apparent!
Traction alopecia occurs in people who literally pull their hair out!
Hair loss associated with endocrine problems such as high level of male sex hormones in women, thyroid problems and scalp conditions. Treatments are directed at the underlying cause.
There is genetic susceptibility to some types of hair loss. Some studies have shown increased incidence of cardiovascular disorders and benign prostatic enlargement in association with hair loss.
Investigations and treatment
Usually no investigations are necessary for androgenetic alopecia, the commonest cause of hair loss that we see. Hormonal testing may be recommended in some cases.
Treatments are available to prevent further hair loss and regain some lost hair. The response to treatment is usually good if started in earlier stages of hair loss.
Treatments used include scalp solutions, prescription medicines, PRP and low level laser therapy.
How does laser help grow hair?
Lasers are commonly used for hair removal. Sometimes unintentional hair growth adjacent to laser hair removal areas was observed. This ignited interest and research in application of lasers to stimulate hair growth. A number of laser devices are now available for this purpose.
We use low level diode laser therapy. No one knows exactly how this works but it is thought that laser increase ATP [the fuel for hair follicles or hair factories] which in turn increases metabolism and cellular activity which produces healthier hair, prevents further hair loss and stimulates the re-growth of hair.
Medical and laser treatment needs to be continued for many months to prevent further hair loss and grow more hair. It should be started early to wake up sleeping hair follicles, without treatment these die off and treatments other than surgery will not work. So, the earlier you start, better it is.
For some patients surgery is the preferred option. We can also arrange hair transplantation.
A hair restoration consultation costs £35.