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Patchy Hair What You Need to Know About Hair Loss

Patchy Hair? What You Need to Know About Hair Loss

Patchy hair, receding hairlines, and thinning strands are a harrowing realization. Here’s what you need to know to take action and slow the hair loss timeline.

Noticing spots of patchy hair can be an alarming realization for anyone.

Don’t panic just yet. There are ways you can regain control and slow the effects of hair loss.

Noticing patchy hair, receding hairlines, or thinning strands is frightening. You might jump into a full-blown panic, making calls to dermatologists and Google searching every possibility. But, hair loss is a shared experience by many, and the first step to slowing the process is to get informed.


What causes hair loss?

Hair loss, or alopecia, has several different causes and can affect your scalp or entire body. Hair loss can be caused by genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or age.

  • Hereditary hair loss: Hereditary hair loss or family history is one of the primary causes of the condition. Hereditary hair damage is commonly referred to as male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. Hereditary hair loss can occur gradually with a shrinking hairline, bald areas, and thinning strands along the scalp.
  • Hormonal adjustments and medical ailments: Some medical issues can create lasting or situational hair damage, including immune problems and scalp infections. Hormonal changes from menopause, thyroid issues, pregnancy, and giving birth can also cause hair loss symptoms.
  • Medications or supplements: Some medicines for cancer, arthritis, mental health struggles, heart conditions, gout, and increased blood pressure can cause hair loss. Radiation therapy can also result in temporary or permanent symptoms.
  • Stressful events: It's possible to experience thinning hair after a stressful event, regardless if it is physical or emotional. In most cases, this kind of condition isn't permanent.
  • Excessive styling and hair services: Certain hairstyling techniques and hairstyles can damage hair follicles. Pulling your hair too tight with styles like box braids can cause traction alopecia. Hair loss can also be caused by hot-oil services and permanent installations.


What should I do?

Now you know some of the causes of hair loss, but you're probably wondering, Great, now what do I do? Here are the steps you should take if you notice significant hair loss and want to start treatment options.

Step 1: Make an appointment with your dermatologist

The first step to preventing or slowing down the hair loss process is to make an appointment with a dermatologist. Dermatologists specialize in treating the skin, hair, and nails. They'll determine where and why you're experiencing hair loss or excessive hair shedding and create a treatment plan. The sooner you can start treatment, the better.

If you don't have access to a dermatologist, you can contact your primary care physician about your concerns. In most cases, they'll refer you to a specialist in your area or insurance network.

Step 2: Prepare for your appointment

It's critical to prepare for your appointment ahead of time. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Make a list of any details, like recent stressful events, life changes, and when you notice the symptoms.
  • Make a list of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you take.
  • Make a list of any questions you might have.

Step 3: Diagnose the issue

Your dermatologist will typically give you a physical exam before making an official diagnosis. They might ask you about your diet, hair routine, and medical or family history. You might have to go through tests, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Pull tests
  • Scalp biopsy
  • Light microscopy

These tests help your dermatologist uncover the root cause of the issue and allow them to develop a treatment plan. Your treatment plan will differ if the issue is caused by an infection, immune condition, or hereditary issue.


Step 4: Follow the treatment plan

After your dermatologist determines the cause of the issues, they'll issue a treatment plan or provide you with treatment options. Hair loss treatments can range from medications, vitamins, hair transplants, injections, and even laser options.

In most cases, a dermatologist will offer the least invasive option to start. Your specialist might recommend medical creams, supplements, or specialty shampoos.

Step 5: Go to follow-up appointments

It can take three to six months before a hair loss treatment plan starts to work. Depending on your situation, you might have to go to follow-up appointments every three or so months. Your dermatologist will ask you how things are going and conduct more tests to see if your condition has improved.

From there, you and your dermatologist will work together to adjust the treatment plan as needed. You might switch to a new cream, serum, or supplement. If things haven't improved, your dermatologist might suggest other options.

Noticing spots of patchy hair can be a harrowing experience and cause you to go into full-blown panic mode. But, hair loss is a common condition, and there are multiple treatment options available. The first step is to make an appointment with a dermatologist. Your dermatologist will diagnose the issue and develop a treatment plan. The sooner you start treatment, the better.

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