Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons and although it’s most commonly associated with men, women and children also can lose hair.
It can be devastating because hair loss is not a cosmetic issue, although those with hair loss may look at it that way, but it may be a sign of underlying illnesses.
Millions affected by hair loss
In the U.S., hair loss affects about 35 million men and 21 million women.
“How you feel about hair loss depends on what your view is,” said Dr. Clayton Green, a Marshfield Clinic dermatologist. “If you are a man whose father and uncles are all bald, you can accept it. You even have role models with shaved heads, like Bruce Willis. It gets accepted as normal.”
More upsetting for women and teens
But Green, who treats patients with hair loss in his Marshfield Clinic practice, said it’s a different story for women and teens.
“It’s much more upsetting because baldness really isn’t accepted as a normal progression in women. That’s why the majority of patients I see are women,” he said. “Hair loss in women can be an early indicator of thyroid disease or anemia, although female pattern baldness also occurs.”
View it as a medical concern
By far the most common cause of baldness is heredity, causing female or male pattern hair loss. However, hair loss should be viewed as a medical concern and individuals experiencing hair loss should be evaluated for underlying illnesses.
Green usually performs a medical evaluation of his patients with hair loss to make sure their condition is not caused by a disease. Once that’s ruled out, he can choose from conservative treatments using medications, cortisone injections or hormones.
For patients who do not want to take medications and are strongly driven for a cure, hair transplantation of scalp hair to bald or thinning areas can be effective in cases of male and female pattern hair loss, although it’s expensive and typically not covered by insurance.