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  Sanford Health Walk-in Clinic
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Sanford North Mandan Clinic

Is hair loss becoming more of a problem for women?

Men, women and children can experience hair loss, which typically can be attributed to heredity, certain medications, hormonal changes, or an underlying medical condition. Most people typically shed 50 to 100 hairs every day and hair tends to thin with age in both sexes. Although we generally notice hair loss more in men, statistics indicate that women are as likely to have thinning hair or hair loss. It can begin at any age, but most often occurs when people are in their 50s or 60s. Menís hair usually recedes from the forehead or on the crown; women generally thin on the top one-third to one-half of their scalp.

Should I see a doctor if Iím losing hair?

Often, hair loss is temporary. In women, temporary loss may be due to hormonal changes with pregnancy or menopause. Hair generally stops falling out when the hormonal influences change. However, if you have been losing a lot of hair over a period of eight weeks or more, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Underlying medical conditions can be a factor in hair loss.

What medical conditions cause hair loss?

Many medical conditions can contribute to temporary or permanent hair loss. Alopecia areata is a disease where the bodyís immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in round patches of hair loss. Hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, anemia, scalp infections and other skin disorders are other conditions that may cause hair loss. Medications used to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure may be associated with hair loss.

Are there other causes for hair loss?

Family history is a major factor, and heredity also influences when hair loss begins. Overusing or improperly using chemical treatments such as dyes can make hair prone to breaking off. Tight hairstyles and twisting, rubbing or pulling on your hair can be a contributing factor. Aggressive drying or toweling of wet hair can cause hair breakage. Crash diets, large weight losses, overuse of Vitamin A, eating disorders, poor nutrition, and even personal crises that cause emotional or physical distress are contributors.

How can a doctor treat hair loss?

Your doctor will do an exam and may order lab tests to determine the cause of your hair loss. Then he/she will discuss possible treatments with you. Some women simply cover up hair loss by changing hairstyles or using hats and scarves. For those who choose medical treatment, there are several prescription medications approved by the FDA for hair loss. Of particular importance is determining the cause of your hair loss and treating that condition.

Dr. Gretchen Belzer-Curl is a board-certified family medicine physician at Sanford North Mandan Clinic. A graduate of the UND School of Medicine, Dr. Belzer-Curl specializes in womenís medicine, preventative health, abnormal Paps and colposcopies. She enjoys music, skiing, running and time with her husband and four children.

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