Hair loss is a common problem that causes discomfort and concern, especially in women. Although it is not always related to health problems, hair loss should serve as a warning if it occurs in an intense and prolonged way. When many strands fall out and the situation seems to be endless, the condition could be a symptom of a health problem and needs to be investigated.
The main cause of hair loss is telogen effluvium, a situation that occurs when the hair stops growing and starts to fall out due to some stress the body has gone through. An episode of telogen effluvium usually lasts for up to six months and passes without the need for treatment.
O metropolises interviewed dermatologist Luanna Caires, who points out the main health problems that result in thinning hair.
1. Infectious diseases
“After infectious diseases we have a period of accentuated hair loss because our body prioritizes other regions of the body during recovery”, explains Luanna Caires.
According to the doctor, patients who had infectious diseases such as dengue and Covid-19 tend to lose a lot of hair during the first three months of recovery. She claims that losing a lot of hair in periods is to be expected, as well as getting it back without the need for treatment. If the problem lasts more than three months, the indication is to look for a dermatologist. The professional will perform tests and prescribe topical or oral medications.
2. Thyroid dysfunctions
Another health reason that causes hair loss is hypothyroidism, one of the most common endocrine diseases. When this dysfunction of the thyroid gland happens, there is less production of hormones than what is needed by the body. Hypothyroidism is identified with blood tests, but some common symptoms, in addition to hair loss, are dry skin, constant cramping, brittle nails, slower heart rate, and headache.
Other hormonal dysfunctions can lead to hair loss, especially when there are sudden changes or situations of emotional imbalance, such as intense anxiety generated by family problems or mourning the loss of a loved one.
Luanna Caires points out that hair loss can also be caused by alopecia. It can be autoimmune (alopecia areata) or genetic (androgenetic alopecia). “In both cases, the hair thins and becomes brittle; but both have treatments capable of containing the worsening of the condition”.
When alopecia is androgenic, the hairs all over the body become thinner and the hair looks thinner, leaving the scalp visible. When left untreated, the only solution is to perform hair implants.
Alopecia areata is characterized by the formation of circular plates where there is no more hair growth. It causes the individual’s own body to produce antibodies that attack hair follicles, leading to hair loss. It can be treated with corticosteroid injections and topical use of minoxidil, but the condition needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist first.
Anemia occurs when the rate of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood, is low due to a lack of iron, blood loss, or vitamin B12 deficiency. The situation is characterized by the general weakening of the body, so that it is normal to feel excessively tired and weaken the hair strands, which begin to receive less blood and nutrients.
Another health condition that can lead to hair loss is lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack various parts of the body. As a consequence of the weakening of the body’s defense system, the disease often leads to the death of hair follicles and leaves the scalp thin.
“Looking for treatment in a beauty salon or with trichologists with no training in dermatology, as if it were a cake recipe, does not solve the problem. It is necessary to look for a doctor to carry out an accurate diagnosis and receive guidance on the best treatment”, emphasizes Luanna Caires.
Due to the variety of situations and causes that lead to hair loss, the recommendation is to avoid starting treatments without an accurate diagnosis.
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