April 01, 2016

Hereditary hair loss

Treatments may help

Hereditary hair loss

It hardly seems fair that your friend still has a full head of hair while yours seems to keep getting thinner. Fair or not, your genetics are some of the most prominent contributors to hair loss, especially for men. And as hair naturally becomes less dense over the years, patterns of hereditary hair loss (androgenic alopecia) tend to become increasingly visible.

Hereditary hair loss with age causes few complications — except for appearance and an extra risk of sunburn or perhaps chilliness in cold weather. But appearance can be a big deal, and just because it's common doesn't mean it's easily accepted. Hair loss, though frequently dismissed with humor, is often keenly felt.

All may not be lost. There are treatments that can help you regain some of your hair — or at least minimize further hair loss. But if you experience hair loss that's unexpected, patchy or causes you concern in any way, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may perform tests to determine if you have a medical condition — such as thyroid disease or lupus — that's causing you to lose your hair. Sometimes hair loss is a side effect of certain drugs, such as those to treat cancer, gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems or high blood pressure.

Hair phases

Like skin cells, hair grows and is shed regularly. Hair goes through a cycle of growth (anagen phase), regression (catagen phase) and rest (telogen phase). The growth phase of a hair typically...