3.18.2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Why do we experience loss of hair?

Genetics: Males whose mothers’ fathers went bald probably will go bald too. Women can also have a genetic predisposition toward thinning hair. Talk to your dermatologist. It could be because of a hormonal imbalance. Raging hormones triggered by birth control pills, pregnancy, cessation of breast-feeding and menopause can all cause hair loss. In the first three cases it grows back within six months to a year; in the latter it may never grow back. Medical conditions could be another factor. Thyroid conditions or autoimmune diseases can cause temporary hair loss. Your doctor can tell you with a blood test whether you’re having a medical condition that is causing hair loss. A medication like chemotherapy, of course, is the most obvious example. Thyroid, blood pressure, and antidepressant, and anti-seizure medications can also cause hair to fall out. Other factors include: nutritional deficiency (eating disorders), major life stresses, environmental exposure, chemical processing, hair styles, and Trichotillomania.

Even though it’s been estimated that 8 to 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from trichotillomania, it was considered rare until recently, because most sufferers are to ashamed to seek help. Trichotillomania is the repetitive urge to pull out one’s hair; the pulling is usually restricted to the head, scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes, though, is some cases body hair is also pulled.

A lot can be done to treat this. Behavioral therapy alone or in combination with certain antidepressant drugs seems to be the most effective way to treat Trichotillomania. Other treatments include hypnosis, dietary restrictions, 12 step programs, support groups, traditional therapy, and acupuncture. For Information, contact the Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC), a national nonprofit support group: 1215 Mission Street, Suite 2, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Phone: 831-457-1004 or go online at www.trich.org.

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