The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time, and it's not abnormal for that stress to take a physical toll on your body. But if you're noticing more hair loss than normal, it's possible that you're experiencing early signs of alopecia. If you think your holiday hair loss could be something more, here are a few things you need to know.
Fortunately, yes. Losing a little bit of hair each day is normal. In fact, your hair goes through an entire cycle of growth and stagnation before it naturally falls out to make room for new hair growth. So a few strands here and there on your brush or in the shower is completely normal. That being said, it's important to understand when normal hair loss has evolved into something more.
There are numerous reasons for hair loss, not all of which are related to alopecia. That's why it's important for you to identify potential triggers for your sudden increase in hair loss. The sooner you can identify these triggers and bring them to your dermatologist, the sooner you can determine whether you're actually looking at alopecia or not. One of the most common triggers for hair loss is stress. In times of high stress -- not unlike the holiday season -- you may notice more hair falling out than is normal for you. Fortunately, this hair loss is temporary and will likely stop if you can eliminate some of the stressors in your life. Chemical treatments are another common reason for hair loss. You might want to look your best for the holidays, but too many chemical treatments on your hair can cause breakage and may even cause hair to fall out at the root. Even using too much heat on your hair can stress it to the point where it may fall out. Again, this can typically be remedied by removing whatever is causing your hair to fall out. It might be time to take a break from the hair dye and heat tools for a little while! But if you can't pinpoint any potential triggers for your recent hair loss, it's time to see your dermatologist and talk about alopecia.
Normal hair loss, as we covered earlier, falls under the normal hair growth cycle. That being said, "normal" in this case means that only a few strands of hair should be falling out -- anywhere from 50-100 strands per day, if you really want to keep count. Alopecia, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition that results in hair loss in patches. This means handfuls or whole groups of strands coming out at the same time. Unfortunately, many people mistake this type of hair loss for stress-related hair loss, which may manifest in a similar way. Alopecia can also occur on other parts of the body, so make sure you're paying attention to hair loss on other areas than just your scalp. Understanding the key difference between alopecia and stress or environmentally-related hair loss can be key in receiving the proper treatment.
Fortunately, there are a number of alopecia treatments available to you if that is your diagnosis. One of the most common alopecia treatments currently available is intralesional corticosteroid injections. These injections are administered directly into the areas affected by alopecia to stimulate new hair growth, but do need to be administered every four to six weeks. Topical minoxidil is another common treatment for alopecia and is sometimes preferable because it's non-invasive. There are also minimal side effects with this treatment. Other topical treatments include anthralin cream or ointment and topical corticosteroids.
If you think your holiday hair loss could be something more than just a little stress, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology and schedule an appointment today.