CSMS Magazine Staff Writer
Men and women have battled hair loss for millennia. Ancient Egyptians tried slathering their bald spots with animal fat…while Julius Caesar wore his famous laurel wreath low to hide a receding hairline.
These measures may sound silly to us now. But the methods tried since then— from prescription lotions to spray-on fake hair—aren’t much better at growing hair.
Is there any truly effective way to stop hair loss? To find out, an interview was done with hair specialist Davi Orentreich, MD…
- What causes hair loss? By the age 50, hair loss affects more than 50% of men and 25% of women. Most of them have what’s known as androgenic alopecia. In men, this hereditary condition (also known as male pattern baldness) causes hair to recede from the forehead back to the crown. In women, it causes the hair to thin all over the head. At the root of the problem—literally—are the male hormones testosterone and dihydro-testosterone. Present in both man and women, these androgens cause hair growth to “switch off.”
- What about other cause? The second leading cause of hair loss is alopecia areata. This poorly understood autoimmune disorder inflames hair follicles and causes bald patches on the scalp-and sometimes on other parts of the body as well. Hair loss can be caused by thyroid trouble, pregnancy and other medical conditions that upset the balance of hormones in the body. Some cases of hair loss are caused by “cornrows” and other hairstyles that pull the hair too right. Such hairstyles cut off blood flow to the follicles, causing the hairline to recede.
- Don’t certain medications cause hair loss? Yes. Some diuretics, antidepressants and cancer chemotherapy agents can cause temporary hail loss. Sometimes discontinuing birth-control pills causes sudden shedding of hair.
- What’s the best way to treat hair loss? That depends on what’s causing your hair loss. Sometimes all it takes is changing a prescriptions or hairstyles…or getting treatment for an underlying medical condition. If the culprit is alopecia areata, injections of the anti-inflammatory drug cortisone often help. A dermatologist simply injects tiny amounts of cortisone in a grid pattern on the scalp. This blocks the immune reaction underlying the hair loss, allowing hair to regrow. If you’re afraid of shots, cortisone lotion-100 to 1,000 times more concentrated than what’s sold over the counter-may work