Few features have more impact on your facial appearance than your hair. Don’t believe it? Go to Google Images and search on “celebrities without hair.” Some of the images show stars that shed their locks for movie roles or cancer awareness. While the faces look vaguely familiar, it is difficult to say for certain who is in the picture. Hair is that important to your personal style, and losing it can have a devastating impact on self-esteem. Dr. Cheryl Burgess at Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery (CDDS) and The Professional Aesthetic Image Center P.C. understand. They offer information and effective hair growth solutions.
Understanding hair loss
Alopecia is the clinical term for hair loss. Most alopecia falls into these common categories:
- Androgenetic alopecia – Also known as male (or female) pattern baldness, this is the most common cause of hair loss, affecting about 70 percent of men and 40 percent of women. It is caused by hereditary hormonally susceptible hair follicles to shrink. It usually begins as thinning above the temples which progresses upward, forming a wreath of hair at back and sides with baldness on top.
- Effluviums – Hair grows in three phases, and effluvium describes hair loss in any one stage. The most common is telogen effluvium, when the number of follicles producing new hairs drops significantly. This results in thinning all over the scalp. TE is often the result of an environmental shock such as change in hormone levels following childbirth, physical trauma, surgery, crash dieting, or vaccinations.
- Alopecia areata – An autoimmune disorder where the body mistakenly attacks hair follicles. AA presents as defined circular bald patches on the scalp. About two of every 100 people suffer AA at sometime during their lives.
Hair Loss explained by Dr. Cheryl Burgess
When patients come to see me for hair loss, what I try to explain to them is there are a multitude of reasons why people lose their hair. It’s not always female pattern hair loss. I think that’s what scares most women when they start shedding.
But there’s a number of reasons, and there are a number of causes. But the thing is that most of these come about three months prior to the person coming into the dermatologist’s office. So that’s one thing I do want to specifically point out.
People think it was something they did the weekend before or because they just got their hair colored or chemically processed; that’s what’s happening. So when we look at hair loss, we look at, are you losing it from the root? Or is it breaking? Are there fractured hairs? and then we determine which one it is and go from there.
If it is a hair loss situation, we try to determine whether it is a scarring type of hair loss or a non-scarring type of hair loss situation. So when patients come in and say I have alopecia, or I was told I had alopecia, well, alopecia just means hair loss. So it’s very important to get a diagnosis of what type of alopecia that you have.
Therefore to do that, the dermatologist comes in. Sometimes it requires blood work, and sometimes it requires a scalp biopsy to determine what’s going on at the follicular or root level. Occasionally we will see infections of the scalp, like a fungus infection, or a folliculitis or bacterial infection that’s causing you to shed your hair.
So it’s very, very important to consult with the dermatologist when you have hair loss, and we can take it from there and do a workup. I know in my baseline workup, I am looking at hormones and looking at your thyroid. I’m also examining the hair under the microscope to see am I dealing with just breakage because you wear your hair bleach blonde, and that really strips the Keratin or strips the protein of the hair.
Unfortunately, dermatologists are trained in skin, hair, and nails, but they’re not a lot around who’s specifically trained and do further training and specialized in hair loss. So even with dermatologists, you do want to choose someone who is accustomed to dealing with that on a daily basis.
Why see a dermatologist for hair loss?
Early intervention is key to halting hair loss, reversing the process, and encouraging new growth. By scheduling an appointment with Dr. Burgess as soon as you notice thinning, you’ll minimize emotional impact and reduce risk of permanent baldness. In the long term, professional treatment that really works is cost-effective compared to unsuccessful over the counter remedies. Plus, with a wealth of general medical knowledge, Dr. Burgess is in a great position to recognize potential health problems that might be triggering your hair loss.
Hair loss treatment at CDDS
Your personal physiology, your head, and your hair follicles are unique. Your hair loss calls for an individualized treatment plan. After careful examination and analysis, Dr. Burgess designs a hair growth program that may include prescriptions medications in specific concentrations just right for your situation, supplements containing essential fatty acid supplements that stimulate re-growth, and high quality dermatologic hair care products.
Scientifically Speaking: Diagnosing and Treating Hair Loss, Part 1
When you think of dermatological care, remember that it includes hair and nails as well as skin. When you need dermatological services, remember these numbers – (202) 955 - 5757 in Washington, DC and (410) 224 - 1195 in Annapolis, MD.