Hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) and the side effects of its related medications can cause hair loss, typically frontal, which is particularly associated with thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (also seen with syphilis). Hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid) can also cause hair loss, which is parietal rather than frontal.[unreliable medical source?]
While you won’t find a miracle shampoo on the market, nioxin and some other products can help keep your scalp in tip-top shape to improve the look of any hairs you do have left on your head. In fact, feeding your hair with the proper nutrients both inside and out can make it appear healthier, so you might consider using products with natural herbs, such as rosemary and mint.
The normal cycle of hair goes through a phase of growth and rest. Each individual hair survives for an average of three and a half years. The growth phase of hair generally lasts two to three years, during which time it grows about half an inch a month. This growing phase is called anagen. This is followed by a resting phase called telogen, which lasts for about three to four months. Usually in its fourth year the hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one.
The cause of female-pattern hair loss is unknown, but doctors said there is a strong genetic component. The risk can come from male or female relatives. Though it looks as if the hair is falling out, that's not really what's happening. Cotsarelis said hair follicles are becoming smaller and producing hairs that may be so small that you can't see them. Women tend to retain more normal, thick hairs than balding men do.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Research is looking into connections between hair loss and other health issues. While there has been speculation about a connection between early-onset male pattern hair loss and heart disease, a review of articles from 1954 to 1999 found no conclusive connection between baldness and coronary artery disease. The dermatologists who conducted the review suggested further study was needed.
It is likely that several genes determine susceptibility to baldness. Some of these genes come from your mother’s side and some from your father’s side of the family. Identical twins lose hair at the same age, at the same rate and in the same pattern. This indicates that genetic factors are more important than environmental factors in causing hair loss.
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
Besides cost considerations, a hair transplant is generally prescribed as a last resort for permanent hair loss problems. It is also not allowed for people under the age of 25, those with a continuing problem of hair loss, as well as those with other health conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, serious heart problems and hypertension. Patients whose hair loss is caused by other factors, such as a skin or scalp disorder or who suffer from a psychological condition that causes them to pull at their hair are not recommended for this procedure. Since the procedure requires taking a sample from the back of the head, those who do not have enough follicles from this section that can be used for transplant are not also eligible.
A substantially blemished face, back and limbs could point to cystic acne. The most severe form of the condition, cystic acne, arises from the same hormonal imbalances that cause hair loss and is associated with dihydrotestosterone production. Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition in which an excessive amount of sebum is produced and builds up on the scalp (looking like an adult cradle cap), is also a symptom of hormonal imbalances, as is an excessively oily or dry scalp. Both can cause hair thinning.
As with transplants, the word toupee conjures an outdated and disagreeable image. The 70s-style rugs have mostly been traded in for spiffier "hair replacement systems." But the basic concept -- a foreign object atop your head -- can only evolve so far. Of course, the effectiveness of hairpieces is tough to evaluate. You may spot an awful one now and then, but the ones you do spot are just the awful ones. Who knows how many masterpieces slip undetected under the radar?