There are many underlying reasons for hair loss in both men and women and it is important for anyone who feels they are experiencing an accelerated form of hair loss to seek an early diagnosis. Everybody sheds hair on a daily basis but many people at some point in their lives begin to lose excessive amounts. For women this can often be linked to pregnancy and childbirth or other hormonal fluctuations. For both sexes a number of conditions such as alopecia areata, cicatrical alopecia and androgenic alopecia can be the cause of hair depletion. Hair loss in both sexes is categorized as either focal or non-focal (generalized).
Focal hair loss is characterized by large identifiable patches and can be caused by a number of treatable conditions such as alopecia areata, tinea capitis and cicatricial alopecia. Alopecia areata is characterised by smooth oval patches of hairlessness and can be caused by a number of autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It can sometimes be effectively treated with steroids. Tinea capitis is characterized by scaling on and around the patches of hair loss, is caused by a fungal infection and can be treated with anti-fungal agents. Cicatrical alopecia is characterized by scarring along the hair loss areas, is caused by an autoimmune disorder and can be treated with steroids.
Generalized hair loss such as androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) is caused by a genetic condition that causes testosterone in the body to weaken the hair follicles in certain areas of the scalp. This condition is far more aggressive in males due to higher testosterone levels but both sexes can suffer unduly due to this condition. Treatments for men and women include Minoxidil (Regaine), laser therapy and Hair transplant surgery. Women can also benefit from hormonal therapy and men from Finasteride. Generalised hair loss can also be caused by stress, poor diet or illness.
It is important to seek a diagnosis of hair loss at the earliest possible opportunity because it is only then that appropriate treatments can be discussed and sought.