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Hair : Hair Loss - Women Online Info


It is normal to shed some hair
each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience
excessive (more than normal) hair loss. Hair loss of this type can
affect men, women and children.

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What causes excessive hair loss?

A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3
or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose
a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.

Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment of the thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.

Many women
notice hair loss about 3 months after they've had a baby. This loss is
also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones
cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the
hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the
normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.

Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves
when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss
include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for
gout, medicines used in chemotherapy to treat cancer, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.

Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp
can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with
antifungal medicines.

Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.

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Can improper care of my hair cause hair loss?

Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the
pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction
alopecia (say: "al-oh-pee-sha"). If the pulling is stopped before
scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally.
However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair
treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called "perms") may
cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in
scarring and hair loss.

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What is common baldness?

The term "common baldness" usually means male-pattern baldness, or
permanent-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common
cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually
have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early
age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness,
hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the
top of the head.

Women may develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp.

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Can my doctor do something to stop hair loss?

Perhaps. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your
diet, any medicines you're taking, whether you've had a recent illness
and how you take care of your hair. If you're a woman, your doctor may
ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause.
Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of
hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of
cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.

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Is there any treatment for hair loss?

Depending on your type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a
medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to
prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection
may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent
further hair loss.

Medicines may help slow or prevent the development of common baldness.
One medicine, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a
prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women
can use it. Another medicine, finasteride (brand name: Propecia) is
available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men.
It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these
medicines is working.

If adequate treatment is not available for your type of hair loss, you
may consider trying different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair
weaves or artificial hair replacement.

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