|Posted on December 28, 2015 at 10:35 AM|
Causes of hair loss and the developments in hair rejuvenation.
Rushton DH1, Norris MJ, Dover R, Busuttil N.
Hair is considered to be a major component of an individual's general appearance. The psychological impact of hair loss results in a measurably detrimental change in self-esteem and is associated with images of reduced worth. It is not surprising that both men and women find hair loss a stressful experience. Genetic hair loss is the major problem affecting men and by the age of 50, up to 50% will be affected. Initial attempts to regenerate the lost hair have centred on applying a topical solution of between 2% to 5% minoxidil; however, the results proved disappointing. Recently, finasteride, a type II 5alpha reductase inhibitor has been found to regrow a noticeable amount of hair in about 40% of balding men. Further developments in treatments have lead to the use of a dual type I and type II inhibitor where 90% of those treated regrow a noticeable amount of hair. In women the major cause of hair loss before the age of 50 is nutritional, with 30% affected. Increased and persistent hair shedding (chronic telogen effluvium) and reduced hair volume are the principle changes occurring. The main cause appears to be depleted iron stores, compromised by a suboptimal intake of the essential amino acid l-lysine. Correction of these imbalances stops the excessive hair loss and returns the hair back to its former glory. However, it can take many months to redress the situation.
Diagnosing and treating hair loss.
Mounsey AL1, Reed SW.
Physicians should be careful not to underestimate the emotional impact of hair loss for some patients. Patients may present with focal patches of hair loss or more diffuse hair loss, which may include predominant hair thinning or increased hair shedding. Focal hair loss can be further broken down into scarring and nonscarring. Scarring alopecia is best evaluated by a dermatologist. The cause of focal hair loss may be diagnosed by the appearance of the patch and examination for fungal agents. A scalp biopsy may be necessary if the cause of hair loss is unclear. Alopecia areata presents with smooth hairless patches, which have a high spontaneous rate of resolution. Tinea capitis causes patches of alopecia that may be erythematous and scaly. Male and female pattern hair losses have recognizable patterns and can be treated with topical minoxidil, and also with finasteride in men. Sudden loss of hair is usually telogen effluvium, but can also be diffuse alopecia areata. In telogen effluvium, once the precipitating cause is removed, the hair will regrow.
Hair loss (alopecia) affects men and women of all ages and often significantly affects social and psychologic well-being. Although alopecia has several causes, a careful history, dose attention to the appearance of the hair loss, and a few simple studies can quickly narrow the potential diagnoses. Androgenetic alopecia, one of the most common forms of hair loss, usually has a specific pattern of temporal-frontal loss in men and central thinning in women. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved topical minoxidil to treat men and women, with the addition of finasteride for men. Telogen effluvium is characterized by the loss of "handfuls" of hair, often following emotional or physical stressors. Alopecia areata, trichotillomania, traction alopecia, and tinea capitis have unique features on examination that aid in diagnosis. Treatment for these disorders and telogen effluvium focuses on resolution of the underlying cause.
Diffuse hair loss in an adult female: approach to diagnosis and management.
Telogen effluvium (TE) is the most common cause of diffuse hair loss in adult females. TE, along with female pattern hair loss (FPHL) and chronic telogen effluvium (CTE), accounts for the majority of diffuse alopecia cases. Abrupt, rapid, generalized shedding of normal club hairs, 2-3 months after a triggering event like parturition, high fever, major surgery, etc. indicates TE, while gradual diffuse hair loss with thinning of central scalp/widening of central parting line/frontotemporal recession indicates FPHL. Excessive, alarming diffuse shedding coming from a normal looking head with plenty of hairs and without an obvious cause is the hallmark of CTE, which is a distinct entity different from TE and FPHL. Apart from complete blood count and routine urine examination, levels of serum ferritin and T3, T4, and TSH should be checked in all cases of diffuse hair loss without a discernable cause, as iron deficiency and thyroid hormone disorders are the two common conditions often associated with diffuse hair loss, and most of the time, there are no apparent clinical features to suggest them. CTE is often confused with FPHL and can be reliably differentiated from it through biopsy which shows a normal histology in CTE and miniaturization with significant reduction of terminal to vellus hair ratio (T:V < 4:1) in FPHL. Repeated assurance, support, and explanation that the condition represents excessive shedding and not the actual loss of hairs, and it does not lead to baldness, are the guiding principles toward management of TE as well as CTE. TE is self limited and resolves in 3-6 months if the trigger is removed or treated, while the prognosis of CTE is less certain and may take 3-10 years for spontaneous resolution. Topical minoxidil 2% with or without antiandrogens, finestride, hair prosthesis, hair cosmetics, and hair surgery are the therapeutically available options for FPHL management.
Chronic telogen effluvium: increased scalp hair shedding in middle-aged women.
Diffuse loss of scalp hair is a common problem in middle-aged women. A segment of these cases represents idiopathic chronic telogen effluvium (CTE).
The purpose was to establish distinctive clinical and pathologic criteria for the diagnosis of CTE to facilitate its differentiation from androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and systemic causes of chronic diffuse hair loss.
A group of 355 patients (346 females, 9 males) with diffuse generalized thinning of scalp hair of unknown origin were classified as having CTE and were included in the study. Characteristically they presented with a history of hair loss with both increased shedding and thinning of abrupt onset and fluctuating course and showed diffuse thinning of hair all over the scalp, frequently accompanied by bitemporal recession. Two 4 mm punch biopsy specimens were taken mostly from the mid or posterior parietal scalp of these patients. The biopsies were performed at these same areas in 412 patients with AGA (193 male, 219 female). Similar paired biopsy specimens were also taken from 22 normal control subjects (13 males, nine females). Specimens were sectioned horizontally and vertically and were examined for terminal and velluslike (miniaturized) hairs, follicular stelae, follicular units, and perifollicular inflammation and fibrosis.
In horizontal sections of 4 mm punch biopsy specimens from patients with CTE the average number of hairs was 39, the terminal/velluslike hair ratio was 9:1, 89% of the terminal hairs were in anagen, and 11% were in telogen. In AGA these values were 35, 1.9:1, 83.2%, and 16.8%, respectively, and in normal control subjects 40, 7:1, 93.5%, and 6.5%, respectively. Significant degrees of inflammation and fibrosis were present in only 10% to 12% of cases of CTE and normal controls, but occurred in 37% of cases of AGA. CTE ran a prolonged and fluctuating course in many patients.
CTE, which usually affects 30- to 60-year-old women, starts abruptly with or without a recognizable initiating factor. It may be distinguished from classic acute telogen effluvium by its long fluctuating course and from AGA by its clinical and histologic findings.
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