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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Women's Health News Wednesday: Forehead Balding and The Use of PRP

With women hair loss can be one of the most distressing symptoms we can have. When tracking causes and coming up with cures we look to the where and how much of hair loss and any associated symptoms. To regrow hair the follicles have to be healthy and regenerated and the best new treatment for this is the use of PRP therapy. And PRP therapy will work better if you also have your health care provider evaluate the underlying cause.  If you are tired, maybe it is a thyroid condition. If your forehead is balding you may actually have a hormone disorder than can be diagnosed and tracked. Newly they are calling this Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) and female androgenetic alopecia are two terms that are very much related. They are commonly synonyms to refer to women with progressive thinning of scalp hair that follows a pattern distribution. Patients with the androgenic hormonal balding may have either excess male hormones, or at least excess male hormones relative to female hormones. Before just assuming what the cause is, sometimes simple blood tests can reveal imbalances in adrenal hormones, growth hormone, thyroid hormones can all contribute to hair issues. Most patients who have hormonal hair loss will come in complaining of relatively new onset hair loss...days, weeks or perhaps months.

The type of hair loss that PRP helps extremely well is the non-scarring type, meaning that there is hope for the recovery of this hair lost once the problem is treated. Medically this is alopecia refers to hair loss without permanent destruction of the hair follicle, although we can’t be sure hair follicles are not being destroyed. Hormonal hair loss is also suspected if it is accompanied by other symptoms of hormone imbalance. How is the rest of your skin? Dry, flaky, itchy, or pimply? Symptoms of the male hormone excess can be chin or upper lip hair, deepening voice, bigger Adam's apple and acne, but blood testing is the way to sort out the real cause.

The hair grows from follicles in healthy scalp and it cycles though growth of the hair from a follicle, then a period when the follicle withers or involutes and when that happens to that follicle with shedding of hair, and finally a rest period or the follicles hibernate. This is a very slow, three step process of anagen, catagen, and telogen. An imbalance of what hair follicles are resting and what follicles are growing will produce what you see as sudden shedding. If this imbalance goes on for years, you'll have very scant hair. The infusion of your own growth factors with PRP can push your hair out of the catagen and telogen stages into the growth anagen stage.

Do not forget sun screen, sun can push hair follicles into catagen and telogen. So if you sit in tanning booths (an anathema to your facialist!) you are more likely to have hair thinning. So PRP covers those mistakes as well as other hair follicle sacrifices at the hands of our beauty regimens. With care and attention, the hair follicle can awake. Stress, either physical exertion, mental exertion, or stress on the hair from treatments is the most common problem of this hair cycle problem. It is naturally seen briefly seasonal loss (warm months), or most commonly just normal loss with exaggeration due to poor treatment of the hair. Those hair things that cause what is called traumatic alopecia (not just tearing our own hair out, there are other ways we hurt our hair)! Pulling, tugging, brushing, braiding, too vigorous toweling, hot iron, Brazilian blowouts, perms, coloration, tight ponytails...pretty much all touching will cause us to shed hairs. System infections, some medications (chemotherapy is mot notable), and even vaccinations can cause hair loss. Unfortunately it can be your genetics, and about a fifth of the patients seeking care for hair loss have at least one relative with extremely thin hair. If your identical twin has hair loss, you have a 50-50 chance of having hair loss.  Autoimmune dysfunction will exaggerate the problem and cause immune cells to attack the growing hair follicles and thus make them either wither prematurely (this is the catagen stage), or in some cases completely die.
We suggest for those undergoing PRP therapies first just be nice to your hair, then get in there and see if the scalp is healthy, finally, get some quick nutritional and hormone checks like a basic thyroid and menopause check. Both zinc and biotin will help your hair grow.  If none of those are yielding any answers it's time to go in for the full differential diagnosis. In the differential diagnoses are some fairly intimidating conditions: anagen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, chemical alopecia, folliculitis (mild), inherited disorders of the hair shaft, telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and traumatic alopecia. Some might just be aging and an actual decrease in each hair's thickness can be seen. Hairs go from nice round, all alike strands, to irregular and inconsistent shapes and contours. Some follicles just quit producing hair, like your eye lash hairs (yeah Latissecan wake that up)! Your gyno might be able to help, or your dermatologist. Don't just "brush" it off to no big deal, hair loss can actually be a symptom of other underlying issues and if it goes on long enough, everyone deserves at least a brief check up.

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