DEALING WITH HAIR LOSS
in VILLANOVA & COLLEGEVILLE
As expected, the experts of Bryn Mawr Dermatology have extensive knowledge in diagnosing and treating skin conditions, but did you know that they are specially trained to manage hair concerns as well? Hair loss comes in dozens of categories including the natural, albeit undesirable, part of the aging process. Some hair loss, however, is unrelated to genetics or how many birthdays you’ve had. There are conditions that are related to scalp health. There are conditions related to hormones and stress. There are hair loss conditions due to physical trauma to the scalp or the hair follicle itself. There are also instances of hair loss that are secondary to larger, more systemic health conditions that, without treatment, can lead to more significant symptoms affecting other organs.
If you are worried by your hair loss, we suggest that you make an appointment with one of our specialists to define what type it is and how we can best treat it. There should not be any shame associated with what you are experiencing or seeking treatment to remedy your symptoms. Hair loss affects women as well as men, and does not discriminate against age or race. The sooner you address your concerns, the sooner we can get you on a path to assessing and resolving them. We have a lot of options to increase hair loss retention, but it is much harder (and sometimes impossible) to re-stimulate hair growth once it has ceased.
Can I Treat My Hair Loss?
The most dependable way to achieve a healthier scalp and hair is to visit a dermatologist with experience in promoting better hair growth. At Bryn Mawr Dermatology, our experienced specialists can help.
For Hair Loss treatments in Villanova or Collegeville, contact our dermatologists today at 610.525.7800!
HEALTHY HAIR GROWTH
Most of our body is covered in different types of hair, the main exceptions are the palms of our hands and soles of our feet. There are two main types of hair: vellus hair (colloquially known as peach fuzz) and terminal hair (which is thicker, darker, and longer). Terminal hair is the focus of this conversation because it is the type that normally grows on the scalp and face and is a cause for concern if unhealthy.
When you have healthy hair, it proceeds through four cycles of growth in a predictable and regulated way that dictates how much hair is growing, how much is stable and how much is falling out at any one time. The balance of how much hair is in each of these stages is essential for uniform growth on the scalp in addition to other areas of the body that grow hair. The four growth phases of healthy hair are:
- Anagen Phase: The Growing Phase
- Catagen Phase: The Transition Phase
- Telogen Phase: The Resting Phase
- Exogen Phase: The Shedding Phase
During Anagen, the hair is actively growing within the follicle. This stage lasts anywhere from 100 days (for eyelashes) to seven years (for scalp hair) and consists of different growth rates depending on where it is located on the body. At any one time, about 85 percent of the hairs on your scalp are in the anagen phase. The next phase is Catagen, which lasts only 2-4 weeks, and consists of the hair root separating from the papilla which is the hairs’ source of nutrients and what causes the hair cells to proliferate. When the hair has completely separated from the papilla it transitions into the Telogen Phase where it is no longer growing but is not actively falling out. This lasts about three months for any given hair. Finally it is time for the shedding phase. Every day it is normal to lose about 70 to 100 hairs per day, which sounds like a lot, but with the average number of hairs on a healthy scalp being 100,000, the rate of loss is actually very small. Once a follicle is void of all hair cells, it starts the process all over again.
DIAGNOSING HAIR LOSS IN VILLANOVA AND COLLEGEVILLE
Determining the cause of your hair loss is an essential part of providing the most effective treatments. If you have experienced generalized thinning, bald patches or localized reduction of hair growth, a skilled professional will know how to ask the pertinent questions and perform the appropriate tests to find the cause. The doctors and PAs at Bryn Mawr Dermatology will start with a thorough medical history including any recent major life events, new clinical diagnoses, medication changes, hair styling/care habits and family history of the same. With that information, the provider will then examine the hair and scalp for the appearance of health and if she determines it appropriate, perform a tug test to see if the hair follicles provide the appropriate resistance. In addition, some laboratory testing may be required to fully assess the situation. This may come in the form of bloodwork or a biopsy. Once the results are compiled, the provider will identify the type of hair loss you are experiencing and provide you with options for treatment. Keep in mind that some hair loss is a normal part of the aging process and is impossible to reverse.
TYpes of Hair loss
This is the most common form of hair loss, affecting over 80 million people in the United States. Both women and men experience this type of hair loss which is commonly known as male/female pattern hair loss. It’s classic appearance in men is a thinning of hair at the temples and the vertex of the scalp that expands with time and can sometimes lead to complete baldness. Women tend to lose hair more uniformly. Although genetics are the main cause of androgenic alopecia, lifestyle choices can also play a role. This type of hair loss is rarely reversible, but if diagnosed and treated early is controllable.
People who suffer from telogen effluvium (TE) can trace back their hair loss to a triggering event about three months prior to noticing significant hair shedding. TE is identified by shedding of approximately five times as many hairs as normal (300-500 hairs/day) followed by a period of follicle inactivity that leads to uniformly thinner hair that can be most noticeable at the temples and crown. The inciting events that are the common causes of this condition are major emotional triggers like a divorce or death in the family, major medical occurrences or conditions such as a surgery or thyroid imbalance, or a major hormonal event like childbirth. Starting or stopping a new medication can also be a trigger. TE usually lasts around six months and tends to resolve on its own, but can become chronic.
Alopecia Areata (AA) creates bald patches of skin where hair normally grows. The patches are not painful or itchy, nor do they have any unusual texture. Individuals with alopecia areata may experience one or many of these patches at a time, and they may be stable for months or they can increase/decrease in size without treatment. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the patient's own immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy cells - in this case, hair follicles. Although there is no cure for alopecia areata, there are treatments that can help regrow hair in the areas of loss. Patient’s with AA are generally healthy with no other symptoms but may have a family member that has AA as well due to genetic inheritance.
There are many different instances when fungal organisms that are a normal part of your skin’s flora become overactive and cause an infection. In the instances where this occurs in an area with terminal hair growth, hair loss can be seen at the site due to inflammation of the hair follicles. The hair loss may be partial or complete, and is accompanied by scaly, itchy, red patches of skin. People of any age can develop tinea capitis, but is most commonly seen in children and is commonly known as ringworm of the scalp. With a proper anti-fungal treatment (either topical and/or oral) from a dermatologist, the infection will resolve and the hair will regrow.
Cicatricial Alopecia is a general term for any hair loss that is caused by scarring to the skin and damage to underlying structures. This type of hair loss is permanent due to the fact that the hair follicles are destroyed and are rendered unable to produce more hair cells. This type of hair loss can occur at any age and affects both men and women. The common causes of cicatricial alopecia are autoimmune disease, chronic rashes, inflammatory disorders, infection, and physical damage to the follicles caused by styling tools or chemicals. If caught early, we may be able to suggest a change of habits, or use of medications that can stop the progression of the disease.
When the hair follicle or shaft is weakened by disease or manual manipulation it can result in the loss of patches of hair, generalized thinning, or many short, brittle hairs where they have been broken. Three causes of this type of hair loss are:
- Loose Androgen Syndrome - a disorder of unknown origin that causes the root of the hair to be weak resulting in hair that falls out easily and only reaches a short terminal length during the Anagen Phase. It is most commonly seen in children.
- Trichotillomania - a psychological disorder that results in patients repetitively pulling hair out of their scalp or other areas of the body. The hair loss is only temporary, but can become permanent due to years of damaging the follicle and scarring the skin if the behavior continues.
- Traction Alopecia - a permanent form of hair loss caused by prolonged or repetitive tension on the hair follicle. Individuals who constantly pull their hair up into tight ponytails or buns can develop this type of hair loss due to years of mechanical follicular abuse.
HAIR LOSS TREATMENTS
Topical hair loss treatments include corticosteroids that can decrease inflammation and return the hair follicle to a normal, healthy state, antifungals that can eradicate fungal infections like tinea capitis, and prescription creams that can help to stimulate the hair follicle to stay in the growth phase. You will find a compounded prescription at our in-house pharmacy that we designed with Minoxidil 7% (the active ingredient in Rogaine at prescription strength) and either Finasteride (to help balance male hormones) or Progesterone (to help balance hormones in females) that has been successful at fending off male and female pattern baldness and even regrowing hair in some instances.
If a hormonal or mineral imbalance is identified, oral medications may be recommended to help your body find an equilibrium that enables hair follicles to return to their normal hair growth cycle. This may come in the form of an over-the-counter multivitamin or iron supplement. It also may be a prescription oral medication like Finasteride (commonly known as Propecia) that can help fend off hair loss. These are well-studied and safe methods of treatment and our providers will be happy to review your options and any potential side effects of these options.
Injectable hair loss treatments include steroid injections to areas of decreased hair growth due to Alopecia Areata and other disease states that cause inflammation of the hair follicle and surrounding structures. We also offer Platelet Rich Plasma injections to the scalp (insert link when we design the page). This is a method of harnessing your own body’s healing power that resides in your white blood cells and plasma, and reintegrating it in large doses back into areas that have been damaged. It has been shown that a series of these injections into the scalp can help patients see thicker, denser hair.
Lastly, if there is a psychological factor associated with your hair loss we may recommend that you seek assistance outside our specialty. With many cumulative decades in practice, the doctors and PAs at Bryn Mawr Dermatology have developed an intricate network of referral sources that include those in physcology, psychiatry and counseling. We recognize that stress is a major factor in developing hair loss, and that cyclically hair loss creates stress. To break this cycle, we have found that a combination of therapies can be very helpful.
COSMETIC DERMATOLOGY FOR THINNING HAIR AND BALDING
Bryn Mawr Dermatology offers non-surgical cosmetic dermatology to help patients put their best selves forward. To stall hair loss and promote the growth of dense, healthy hair, we provide Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) scalp injections in Villanova and Collegeville.
Platelet rich plasma hair restoration is a highly recommended procedure for both men and women. The growth factors produced by the PRP are vital for allowing your body to jumpstart the hair growth process – without chemicals or prescription drugs. The plasma used in the procedure is processed from blood draws taken in office.
Our staff then spins the blood sample in a centrifuge, which helps separate plasma from other matter.
This PRP solution is then injected into the scalp. The injections stimulate the development of new blood vessels which promotes hair growth by increasing follicle count and vitality. Treatment is well tolerated, especially with the application of a topical numbing cream, and is minimally invasive, so patients don’t take too much time out of their busy schedules to achieve their desired results. Our dermatologists typically recommend three treatment sessions, after which patients report a thicker, fuller head of hair. Annual maintenance is required to keep up with hormone changes.
Patients often seek out PRP injections to boost hair growth after being frustrated with topical products but being hesitant to pursue invasive surgery or oral medications that have potential negative side effects. PRP injections are a popular and effective middle ground for all of the following reasons and more:
Benefits of PRP Treatments
A blood draw and several injections are required during the treatment process; however, there are no incisions made, and patients do not need to spend time recovering from their appointment.
You never know when you purchase medication for hair growth how your body will respond or what you can expect. This creates a wait-and-see period where you may not achieve the hair growth you want and are stuck searching for a new solution. PRP, on the other hand, allows your body to heal itself and restore thicker hair in balding areas. Treatment is effective at restoring the appearance of fuller hair. For some patients, PRP works best in combination with oral medication for hair loss as prescribed by our dermatologists.
Topical or over-the-counter products usually need to be taken or applied on a daily basis. Inconsistent use creates inconsistent results, which is frustrating. PRP works with your body’s natural hair growth processes, so you don’t have to spend extra time applying products or medications that create a fuller head of hair.
Some treatments are only recommended to treat the crown of the scalp, and some only recommended to treat the temples or hairline. PRP can be applied to any area of thinning hair to encourage improved growth and is a fine-tuned procedure allowing pinpoint accuracy in its application.
Hair Loss Treatment
IN VILLANOVA & COLLEGEVILLE
Don’t struggle with the embarrassment of thinning hair for another day. With PRP for hair loss in Villanova and Collegeville, we can help you enjoy new confidence in your appearance.