Patchy Hair Loss: Identifying Triggers and Solutions
Anyone can suffer from hair loss, beginning at any age. Around the globe, about 35 million men and 21 million women are affected by this condition. A 2018 study showed that around 0.58% of adults had patchy hair loss. The age when it usually starts is between 25 and 29, more noticeably in women. Asians are more likely to experience patchy hair loss, with the chance being about three times higher than other ethnicities.
This blog post will discuss the factors that contribute to hair loss and the various personalised solutions available to treat this condition. There are often questions about what qualifies as normal hair loss, what causes it, and whether there are any ways to regenerate lost hair. We will delve into these queries and provide more information about the treatments that can help address hair loss.
What is Patchy Hair Loss, and What Causes It?
While hair loss can manifest anywhere on the body, this condition commonly impacts the head and face. Typically, hair falls out in small, round patches approximately the size of a coin, although more extensive baldness can occur in some cases. The spectrum of hair loss is diverse and can result from various factors.
Patchy hair loss comes from the Latin terms “alopecia”, meaning baldness, and “areata”, meaning vacant area or patch. It is a condition where the person’s immune system targets and disrupts its hair follicles, resulting in hair falling out in one or more small patches. Alopecia areata manifests differently for each individual; it can be a one-time occurrence or a recurrent issue that spans a lifetime.
Individuals with alopecia areata are typically in good health and may not display any additional symptoms. However, this can vary from person to person.
Tinea capitis, or scalp ringworm, is a fungal infection affecting the scalp. It is identified by patchy hair loss, hair breakage at the scalp, and flakes or scales on the scalp surface. The higher prevalence of fungal infections among children is due to their developing immune systems, which makes them more vulnerable. Moreover, children often participate in activities that involve close contact, such as sharing personal items, playing together, or using communal spaces like school showers, which increases the risk of fungal transmission.
Trichotillomania is a psychological condition marked by an uncontrollable compulsion to pull out one’s own hair. This behaviour can affect hair on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or other body parts. Trichotillomania is often considered a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and may result from various psychological factors. Individuals with trichotillomania may experience significant distress and impairment due to their hair-pulling tendencies.
Telogen effluvium cause is temporary hair loss, where more hair than usual enters a resting phase due to factors like stress, illness, or medications, resulting in increased shedding. The good news is that the hair usually grows once the underlying cause is addressed.
This type of hair loss is caused by certain hairdressing practices, including tightly braiding or cornrowing, exposing hair to excessive heat and twisting with tools like curling irons or hot rollers, and causing damage through the use of strong chemicals like bleaching, hair colouring, or permanent waves.
Hereditary Pattern Baldness
You can also inherit specific genes contributing to an elevated risk of developing this form of hair loss if one of your close blood relatives suffers from it. This condition can affect both men and women in the family.
Chronic Illness and Nutritional Deficiencies
Individuals experiencing autoimmune conditions like thyroid disease, psoriasis, vitiligo, lupus, asthma, hay fever, atopic dermatitis, or diabetes may encounter patchy hair loss. Nutritional deficiencies can disrupt the hair growth cycle by prioritising vital functions over hair growth. Imbalances in nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and vitamins, can hinder the formation of essential proteins for healthy hair.
Studies indicate that individuals who smoke for a decade or longer, consuming over five cigarettes daily, face an elevated risk of developing patchy hair loss compared to non-smokers. Smoking is linked to increased inflammation in the body, posing a risk of the immune system targeting and attacking hair follicles.
What Are The Symptoms of Patchy Hair Loss?
From subtle changes to more noticeable manifestations, understanding these indicators is vital to early recognition and effective management.
- Localised Smooth Bald Patches: A person may experience sudden hair loss, often starting as a smooth, round or oval patch on the scalp or beard. However, it can initiate on any body part and is not limited to the scalp. It can occur as a single or multiple patch or total hair loss.
- Nail Changes: Some may simultaneously experience nail changes and hair loss symptoms. Nails forming tiny dents may be red or may become so rough in texture, like sandpaper. Nails can also be brittle and easily split.
- Sensations On The Scalp: Where hair loss is imminent or has already occurred, one may feel itching, tingling, or a burning sensation.
- Eyelash or Eyebrow Involvement: Patchy hair loss affecting eyelashes or eyebrows may irritate the eyes.
Suppose you observe any of these indications and find the condition significantly impacting your quality of life. In that case, seeking professional guidance for a comprehensive assessment and a personalised treatment strategy is recommended.
Preventing Patchy Hair Loss Involves
- Managing stress.
- Maintaining a balanced diet.
- Practising gentle hair care.
- Avoiding harsh chemicals.
- Ensuring regular scalp care.
- Seeking early treatment if signs appear.
- Considering protective styles.
What Dr. Tyng Clinic Can Do For You
Dr Tyng Tan Aesthetics and Hair Clinic is licensed and equipped to address your patchy hair loss concerns. Among the hair loss solutions offered at our clinic are:
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplant Surgery
This is a progressive and minimally invasive procedure for hair restoration. It involves independently retrieving hair follicles from the donor area and grafting them into the recipient area, creating a natural-looking result. This technique offers precision, quicker recovery, and minimal scarring compared to traditional methods, providing practical solutions for individuals seeking hair restoration with a focus on aesthetics.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
This non-invasive procedure uses low-level lasers to stimulate hair follicles, promoting improved blood flow and cellular activity. LLLT is designed to halt hair loss and encourage thicker and healthier hair growth, and it is suitable for individuals seeking a non-surgical solution.
CALECIM Professional Advanced Hair System®
This system leverages the power of stem cell technology derived from umbilical cord lining, aiming to trigger hair follicles’ natural hair growth. It is designed to address various aspects of hair loss, providing patients with a comprehensive and advanced approach to restoring hair health using the serum’s anti-inflammatory factors.
When choosing a hair loss doctor, consider their qualifications, expertise, aesthetic sense, and ethical behaviour. Ensure that they are a registered medical practitioner with the Singapore Medical Council and have a valid Practising Certificate. Ideally, your doctor should have a background in dermatology or reconstructive surgery and be affiliated with the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
At Dr Tyng Tan Aesthetics and Hair Clinic, we provide detailed information through blogs to help you understand any procedure you are considering. Contact +65 6235 0010 to book a consultation with Dr Tyng Tan and learn more about our personalised treatment plans for hair loss problems.