Almost everyone sheds between 50 and 100 hairs every day. However, some people begin to shed more than this average amount, and their hair begins to thin as a result. In some cases, this indicates diffuse hair loss, which can affect anyone at any time or age. Any factor that interrupts the hair cycle in the growth phase, anagen, the involution phase, catagen, or the resting phase, telogen, can lead to diffuse hair loss.
Diffuse hair loss isn’t a condition itself, but rather a pattern of hair loss that can be caused by several different possible conditions. This type of hair loss is more accurately referred to as hair shedding; in most instances, the causes are treatable, and the hair can return.
One of the biggest hurdles in diagnosing diffuse hair loss is ruling out the possibility that a more serious condition is causing the symptoms. Issues such as spot baldness are often confused for diffuse hair loss because they appear to begin for no reason. A medical history and physical examination enable the doctor to identify the type of condition.
The most common cause of diffuse hair loss is telogen effluvium. Some people experience chronic telogen effluvium, or female pattern hair loss. in women People undergoing chemotherapy or taking certain medications may experience anagen effluvium, which occurs during a different stage of the hair growth cycle. The diffusion hair loss pattern involves hair loss all over the head rather than a single area, though it may begin more strongly in a certain place, further confusing diagnosis.
Telogen effluvium occurs during the resting phase of hair follicle development and leads to more hairs normal being shed. This rapid and generalized hair shedding generally begins a few months after a traumatic event such as a high fever, major surgery, pregnancy, extreme weight loss, or any other stressful situation. In most people, the condition resolves itself after several months.
As its name suggests, chronic telogen effluvium is a form of the condition that can cycle in and out or remain for an extended time. It is often confused with male or female pattern hair loss due to its longevity. Chronic telogen effluvium presents as excessive and rapid shedding from a scalp that does not look other unwell. Doctors must run tests to discover whether an affected individual has pattern hair loss or chronic telogen effluvium.
When a woman experiences hair loss that begins with general shedding followed by thinning of the hair around the central scalp and parting line thinning, female pattern hair loss is the likely cause. The exact reason is largely unknown, though experts believe it to be hormone-related, as is male pattern baldness. Additionally, some doctors do not consider female pattern hair loss a type of diffuse hair loss and instead consider chronic telogen effluvium an imitator of female pattern hair loss.
Much like telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium occurs when something disturbs a step of the hair growth process. In this case, the interruption to hair follicle development comes during the growing phase. Those undergoing chemotherapy are the most commonly affected by this type of diffuse hair loss, which can affect the eyebrows and body hair as well as the scalp.
Doctors can use several different methods to determine whether a person is experiencing diffuse hair loss. The first and easiest is to have the doctor gently pull at the hair on three different areas. The physician then sorts the withdrawn hairs based on stage and counted. If the number of removed telogen-stage hairs exceeds ten, the issue is likely diffuse hair loss. To determine the exact cause or how to combat it, most doctors recommend a blood count and urine exam, and a thyroid examination.
If a person is experiencing hair loss caused by telogen or anagen effluvium, the treatment is to simply wait. Non-chronic conditions should resolve in a matter of months, as long as individual removes or treats the trigger. If the problem is chronic, the period for spontaneous resolution is much longer; hair shedding can persist for as long as a decade. In such cases, medical options can help manage and combat hair loss. Female pattern hair loss does not resolve itself but is manageable, and medication, therapy, or surgery can stop or reverse the loss.
Typically, a dermatologist will help individuals handle hair loss. The specialists' primary focus is on hair loss caused by hereditary means, but their knowledge of the human body may allow them to diagnose and treat diffuse hair loss, as well. In some cases, they may also recommend an endocrinologist. These doctors focus on endocrine disorders related to the blood and thyroid and can examine possible biological causes of hair loss.
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