Can A Dermatologist Help With Hair Loss?
Can a dermatologist help with hair loss? It’s a common question we get from potential patients and followers on social media. Patients consider dermatologists for issues concerning the skin like acne, dermatitis, and skin cancers. However, your dermatologist can tackle all the problems concerning hair and nails.
When it comes to issues of the hair, none are more common and concerning as hair loss. Over 55 million Americans suffer from some degree of hair loss.
Many ignore the issue or are unaware of the excessive shedding. Others let it run its course and shave it all off or decide to cover it up with hairstyles, wigs, or hats. But for some, the issue could be distressing, emotionally devastating, and can even affect their daily lives. At this point, treating your hair loss goes beyond buying shampoo or an over-the-counter treatment. You’ll need to visit your dermatologist to find out the root cause so that you can take a holistic approach to grow back those whiskers, pronto.
What is hair loss anyway?
For starters, losing hair is not inherently a bad thing. It’s a natural part of life, regardless of age or sex. We lose somewhere between 50 to 100 strands of hair a day. That sounds like a lot. However, we have over 100,000 strands of hair and many more hair follicles, so daily hair loss is hardly noticeable. When we start losing many more and start seeing bald spots, we know something is wrong. Each hair follicle on our head is going through a stage of growth. These follicles can be in different stages at any point:
- Most hair follicles are in the anagen phase. This is a period of growth that can last 2 to 7 years.
- The catagen phase occurs when your hair follicles start to shrink.
- The telogen phase is a resting phase that can last several months until…
- The exogen phase, when the strand falls off and growth restarts.
In some cases, the rate of new hair growth is not fast enough to replace what was lost, causing baldness. Alopecia is the scientific name for hair loss, and it can happen in several ways and forms. Generally, hair loss can be categorized into thinning hair, receding hair, sudden clumps of hair falling out, or patches around the head. In severe cases, some people can experience full-body hair loss.
Hair loss in men
Men and women each suffer from hair loss, but men mainly suffer from androgenetic alopecia or male-pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia increases with age, as 1 in 2 men will have the condition from age 40 onward. Over time, men will notice thinning hair and receding hairlines. For some, clumps of hair can fall out while brushing or in the shower.
This type of hair loss is mostly genetic and will happen to most men. However, there are some other reasons for hair loss in men. These include:
- Hormones: Some men suffer from hair loss due to thyroid disorders or reduced testosterone. Hormone changes can cause thinning hair or speed up receding hairlines. Lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity can change hormones, impacting hair growth.
- Medication: Some medications have unwanted side effects, including hair loss.
- A stressful or devastating event can raise cortisol and other hormones, which can trigger hair loss. Reducing stress usually restores hair growth in due time. This type of hair loss, along with medication and hormones, is often called Telogen Effluvium.
- Scarring alopecia: This refers to a collection of inflammatory conditions that destroy the hair follicle. If not treated immediately, scarring alopecia leads to irreversible hair loss. Damage from hair products or tight hairstyles are common causes. However, men can also suffer from conditions such as acne keloidalis, CCCA, tufted folliculitis, dissecting cellulitis, and many others.
Hair loss for men, specifically male-pattern baldness, receives a lot of attention and is a multi-billion dollar industry. However, seeing your dermatologist should be the first step to treating the condition.
Hair loss in women
While not as apparent in the media compared to male-pattern hair loss, female hair loss is just as common. More than 55% of women experience some form of hair loss by age 50. For women, hair loss could be a frustrating, stressful occurrence. If left untreated, it can impact self-esteem and even income. There are several reasons why women experience hair loss. Most times, multiple factors combine to cause hair loss or make the situation worse. Common reasons include:
- Stress: Stress can manifest in several ways. Like men, women too can get shedding hair due to stress which can improve with time.
- Genetics: Androgenetic alopecia also impacts women. While it may not show as a receding hairline, women will experience baldness at the center of the scalp.
- Hormones: From menopause to thyroid conditions, hormones can impact hair growth and hair thickness.
- Pregnancy: Some women have more hair follicles in the telogen or resting phase during pregnancy. The slowed transition can make the hair appear thinner or shed.
- Hairstyles: CCCA or traction alopecia can happen due to relaxers, tight hairstyles, or constant heat to the follicles.
- Scarring alopecia: Women can also suffer from conditions that can cause irreversible follicle damage.
- Vitamin deficiencies: An iron deficiency or conditions like anemia can reduce the nutrients going to the hair follicles. The lack of nutrients increases the likelihood of hair loss.
- Chemotherapy: Treatment for some cancers can cause rapid hair loss due to radiotherapy sessions. The hair loss may not be limited to the scalp but the face, arms, chest, and armpits. This type of hair loss is unavoidable. However, hair can return in a few weeks after treatment.
How can a dermatologist help with hair loss?
If you’re facing prolonged and unexplained hair loss, set an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as possible. Your dermatologist will perform a detailed assessment of your medical history as well as perform a physical examination. You’ll need a blood test to assess your hormones, thyroid, and any deficiencies in some cases. From there, there are several strategies your dermatologist can use to help restore hair growth.
Your dermatologist will prescribe medication to help with hair loss. Topical minoxidil, commonly called Rogaine, can help with hair growth and thickness. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe Finasteride in oral form. Both options will improve hair growth within 6 to 12 months and be continually used to see results. However, both drugs have some side effects. Speak with your doctor to outline any concerns.
Corticosteroid ointments and injections can impact hair growth. By injecting the steroid into the scalp, dermatologists help with inflammation and improve overall growth.
Low-level light therapy is an effective method to stimulate hair growth. It’s a non-invasive procedure that can promote and strengthen hair growth. There is also little pain and side effects. Using a device that sends pulses of light to the scalp, your dermatologist can replenish damaged cells and improve blood flow.
Men and women alike will see great results. Laser treatment requires several sessions for a year. However, once you keep up with the scheduled sessions, there will be a significant improvement in hair growth.
Kerafactor is an excellent, relatively new treatment for anyone suffering from hair loss. The Kerafactor formula is a unique serum containing seven concentrated bio-identical growth factors and proteins. Together, they’re encased in a special compound that encourages fast, more potent absorption.
Your dermatologist may combine Kerafactor with a special laser or microneedling treatment. The laser creates tiny channels, opening the skin on your scalp to receive the Kerafactor serum. Your dermatologist will massage the treatment into your scalp. Kerafactor has a high satisfaction, and most patients see results in as little as 2 to 3 months. It’s best when combined with other treatment options like medication or laser therapy. Your dermatologist will create a regimen containing one or more of these treatment options for the best results.
Try some PRP Therapy
Platelet-Rich Plasma or PRP therapy is another effective method that can help stimulate hair growth and thickness. The process involves extracting a blood sample, separating the plasma in a centrifuge device, then injecting the plasma ( containing platelets and growth factors) back into the problem area.
Plasma contains stem cells and other healing properties that can help restore damaged hair follicles. Like laser treatment, PRP therapy needs several sessions spaced a month apart. Research is already showing the effectiveness of PRP in fighting long-term hair loss.
Please note that both PRP, along with Kerafactor, are recommended for hair loss in men and women.
Lifestyle changes can help.
Sometimes certain life events, habits, and circumstances could be behind your hair loss. The goal would be to pinpoint these issues and find a way to resolve them. When this happens, there should be a natural response by the hair follicles. Some of these changes include:
- Review your hairstyles. Tight styles and products can cause traction alopecia or CCCA.
- Look at the products you’re using in your hair, such as relaxers. These can cause long-term damage and slow down new growth.
- Stress can cause hair loss over time. Look for ways to reduce stress or remove stressful situations.
- Hair loss can be diet-related. Some diets lack the vitamins and minerals needed for consistent hair growth. Try to add iron and zinc to your diet. Generally, a complete diet with leafy greens, vegetables, and whole grains can improve overall health and support other hair loss treatments.
Your dermatologist can provide much-needed counseling in these areas, along with medication and in-office treatments.
Hair replacement surgery
Hair replacement surgery is a viable option to treat hair loss. It is often the last resort for patients with scarring alopecia, where there is severe, permanent damage to the follicles. However, those with pattern baldness can also benefit from surgery.
You’ll need sufficient areas of healthy hair growth on your head where your surgeon can transplant to the regions with stunted hair growth. There should also be no signs of keloid scarring or burns in the transplant area. Your surgeon will perform either grafting or scalp reduction.
With grafting, your surgeon removes a large portion of hair-producing skin from the back of the head. From there, the sample is split into hundreds of pieces called grafts. These grafts are now surgically installed into the areas with hair loss. Over 3-4 months, the graft and donor areas will heal completely. Some patients will need multiple hair replacement sessions to see the best results.
Scalp reduction covers bald areas by stretching the skin with healthy hair follicles over the deficient areas. Your surgeon will first remove the skin with damaged hair follicles. The nearby skin with hair follicles is then stretched over the missing spot. Most scalp reduction procedures happen at the top of the back of the head. Both procedures have benefits and risks. Discuss these risks with your doctor to see if you’re a candidate for surgery.
Trust your dermatologist with your hair loss concerns.
So can a dermatologist help with hair loss? The answer is a resounding yes. With a range of medical and in-office procedures available, your dermatologist will be able to improve your hair. The first step is to visit your dermatologist to comprehensively review your hair and any skin concerns.
At Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics, we pride ourselves in truly understanding the struggles of your hair.
Our board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Rodney, has extensive knowledge of the reasons behind hair loss. From there, her deep understanding will translate to an effective, long-term method to bringing your hair loss under control.
To start your hair-growth journey, schedule a consultation with Eternal Dermatology. We’re conveniently located in Fulton, MD, and serve patients in Columbia, Silver Springs, Howard County, Baltimore, Washington DC and surrounding areas.
There are a few ways you can connect with us:
- Book an appointment directly on our website.
- You can also request a consultation by clicking the link at the bottom of our homepage.
- Call or email us via our Contact Page.
With your dermatologist’s help, hair loss does not need to be an inevitable part of life.