While unwanted body hair can be one of the most embarrassing and hard to deal with conditions a person can face, hair loss can be just as difficult. Sometimes the loss is a side effect and related to an underlying condition that has other implications. Other times hair loss is heredity. Whatever the reason, as a practitioner it is important that you understand how to best guide your patients to a solution that will work for them.
We can briefly cover the ins and the outs of how to give people hair, here – but for in-depth details make sure you attend the sessions on this topic at SCALE 2019 Music City in May.
Common Reasons for Hair Loss
You can think of hair loss as falling into one of two primary categories. The first is as a side effect of something consumed or otherwise inserted into the body, or a reaction to something in the atmosphere. The other is because of a disease or disorder. Either way, unwanted hair loss is not fun and it can be a struggle to correct. And while hair loss is more common in men than in women, as noted by the Wimpole Clinic, it will impact a full one-third of women in the course of their lifetime. (Source).
When you have an allergy that triggers hair loss it can come on suddenly or slowly – be predictable, or not. For instance, it is well documented that a major side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss. As noted by the Mayo Clinic:
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those in your hair roots.
Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body — not just on your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair also falls out. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from a mere thinning to complete baldness.
Stress, malnutrition and allergies can also trigger hair loss. As can depression. All of these are conditions that can be avoided or easily treated.
Male pattern baldness is a little bit more complicated. No particular lifestyle choices, or avoidance of any environmental factors, will help as it is related more to genetics and hormones than any environmental factor. (Source). “Female pattern baldness is the main type of hair loss in women [it] is the same as it is men. It’s called androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic “M” shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman’s hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald.” (Source).
Then there are the myriad of diseases that can cause hair loss. These include:
- Alopecia areata is a disease that causes hair to fall out in small patches, which can remain unnoticeable. These patches may eventually connect and then become noticeable, however. This disease develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Sudden hair loss may occur on the scalp, and in some cases the eyebrows, eyelashes, and face, as well as other parts of the body. It can also develop slowly, and recur after years between instances. (Source)
- Hypothyroidism is when the body doesn’t produce enough energy, and Hyperthyroidism is when the body produces too much.
- Lichen Planus, a non-contagious skin rash.
- Hodgkin’s Disease.
Over a dozen of other fairly common causes of hair loss exist, as well as unique and rare ones. Diagnosis can be tricky and treatment must be oriented toward the specific reason for the loss.
Psychological Impact of Hair Loss
Anyone facing hair loss faces the potential for significant psychological impact. While the following research (published by the National Institutes of Health) is cited specifically from a study on alopecia, it does apply broadly to all types of hair loss.
Most of the research shows that people with alopecia have higher levels of anxiety and depression than controls. They also experience lower self esteem, poorer quality of life, and poorer body image. Those who lose eyebrows and eyelashes may also have problems with identity and identity change, as these features help to define a person’s face.
Hair loss may be seen in terms of abnormality and as a failure to conform to the norms of physical appearance in society, which has the potential to set people apart in their own estimation and in the estimation of others. People can have serious problems with self esteem.
This leads to the question: What can we do to help our clients and patients restore their hair?
Getting Hair to Grow Again
There are several possibilities. The first is topical medications, such as the brand Rogaine or Minoxidil, and other like substances. The second is orally-dosed, such as Finasteride or anti-androgens. The third solves the problem by using hair transplants. The final, and most contemporary and cutting edge is based on the same type of treatments used for other cosmetic issues. These 21st Century treatments include Platelet Rich Plasma, Microneedling, and a variety of energy treatments. While none of these will work on 100% of your clients, they are all worth noting and learning more about so that you can give your patients and clients options.