The Hairy Business of Hair Loss

Understanding Alopecia, Its Effects and Prevention

Every now and then a patient will come in and tell me how hot their head is. No, not that they're a hot head. I'm not that kind of doctor. I mean that they have so much hair that their head is temperature hot. I'm sure the Dallas summers are killer for these folks. If this is you, go find a Game of Thrones episode to catch up on because this article isn't for you.

For dozens of the rest of you, wishing for this problem, come on over for a little fireside chit chat. You are not alone. Hair loss impacts A LOT of you; men and women alike. It has a HUGE psychosocial impact. Even if you're not Fester Addams, it doesn't mean that every time you look in the mirror, your mind isn't immediately drawn to criticizing your hair, or lack thereof. Or maybe it's just the abundance with which you see it coming out. That bird's nest in the shower drain is disturbing, shocking and you're concerned about what that's going to look like down the line when it comes to your head. 

I will tell you that most hair issues are not an overnight fix (IN MOST CASES). There are a few hair loss issues that do have quicker solutions. Typically these are the ones that have begun suddenly and have been going on for a short duration. There are dozens of different types of hair loss and the why will guide the treatment plan.  Our understanding of hair loss is becoming better and better, and thus, the science in treating it has also improved. So not to be anti-climactic, but the best way to treat the hair loss that YOU are experiencing, is going to depend on what's going on.

Alopecia. Gesundheit. Yes, that sneezing sound is actually the technical term for hair loss. But guess what? It's just a descriptive term. That word by itself is just a description of a symptom. To nail a cause, we need to talk it out, maybe do some labs (depending on our talk), maybe do a biopsy or two (depending on our talk). So ultimately, if this is an issue that is having significant impact, that you want to get to the root of, I think it deserves a visit to a board-certified dermatologist. That being said, there are several very general things you CAN do on your own that help with many hair loss conditions, regardless of the cause.

 

Firstly, reduce your stress levels.  HAH!  Right?  I know. You're thinking "Oh, thank you, Dr. Genius. What a novel idea! I was thinking to just hold on to as much stress as humanly possible. Now that you said to do it, I'll go ahead and try that plan." I get it. No one is walking around actively holding onto stress that they can voluntarily expunge. But seeking out those methods to alleviate your stress levels will absolutely help you hold on to the hair you have. It's a saying for a reason! Seek out meditation, yoga, go shooting, work out or take up tai chi. Finding an outlet is my main point.  

 

Second, eat a healthful diet.  Again, no rocket science here. If you're deficient in vitamins, your body isn't going to have the resources available to grow hair. So, offer it all the building blocks it needs so that regardless of any other reasons for hair loss, you're not adding to it. Can't build a house if there are no bricks available. If you are absolutely adherent to your diet of Twizzler's and Red Bull, so be it (again, not that type of doctor so I'll spare you the lecture), but at least take a multi-vitamin. Side note: Biotin. Yes, it's had a lot of hype for assisting with hair loss. And yes, if you're deficient, you're not going to make hair well. But guess what folks?  A deficiency in Biotin is EXTREMELY rare and it can actually throw off your lab values for your other docs. So just do a multi-vitamin; it's cheaper anyway. 

 

Thirdly, leave it alone!  Are you using twelve different relaxers, exciters, detractors, perms, teasers, pleasers, hot combs, cold combs, wet combs, Elmer's glue and extra special expensive French name hair treatment, caulk? Yeah, stop that mess. Give it a breather. Let it do its thing. That goes for those tight hair styles too. Over time, these treatments and styles can actually SCAR your scalp and make a potentially temporary / treatable hair loss into a permanent one

 

Finally, over the counter Rogaine. Wow. There's SO many rumors and misconceptions here. Is this a permanent solution? No. Will you have to continue using it to maintain any hair gains? Yes, you will. Does it make your hair fall out more?  No; who even said this?  If you use the men's strength, will you become a man?  No. Just don't put it on your face unless you want hair there. Minoxidil (generic name for Rogaine) can improve MANY different forms of hair loss conditions, so it won't hurt anything. But it is a pause button. So, unless you fix the root of the problem, once you stop, that causative process will pick up again. Good news is, at least while you're figuring that part out, you're not continuing to lose more and more hair.

 

You've been putting it off.  Let's get this taken care of so that you can stop internet shopping for wigs and hats, and focus on diversifying your Twizzler, Red Bull diet.

 

For information on how to book an appointment with Dr. Werner or any of our other physcians in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, visit our locations page.

Author Kimberly A Werner, MD — Published May 31, 2019