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Hair Loss in the Elderly

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In the average individual, about 90% of the hair on the scalp is growing, while the rest is in a dormant phase. After a period of about 4 months, the dormant hair is shed, and new hair is grown to replace it. This cycle of hair growth lasts around 2 and a half years, but some individuals experience more hair loss than normal during this cycle. The most common form of hair loss which could lead to baldness is called androgenetic alopecia, which is an inherited trait that causes permanent ‘pattern baldness’. This trait is mostly found in men, and results in a receding hairline, or lack of hair on the head. In women, hair typically becomes generally thinner in this form.

Hair Loss in the Elderly

Hair Loss in the Elderly

Common Causes

Medicine
Some drugs such as gout medication, hormone pills, antidepressants, or anticoagulants (also known as blood thinners) can cause thinning in the hair. This is usually due to the hair follicles being negatively impacted by these medicines, which disrupts their growth cycle. If medicine is the likely cause of hair loss, your physician should be contacted to try to lowering dosage or change to a different medication.

Health
In senior people, there are common health conditions that can be directly related to hair loss. Such problems include thyroid dysfunction, any infections in the scalp or skin, or alopecia areata (autoimmune disease which results in hair loss). Iron deficiency is another factor that can lead to baldness. As studies have shown, individuals with a poor diet that is deficient of iron are more likely to have hair loss. These problems can be diagnosed and treated for by a doctor. After treatment, your hair loss will be reduced and with return to its normal growth cycle over a period of time.

Hormones
The changing of hormones are we age is likely the most common cause of hair loss in elderly people. Sex hormones typically cause male or female pattern baldness. Hormone imbalances caused by menopause are another cause of hair loss. Consult a doctor for treatment, but know that these causes are often inevitable and something everyone will have to resolve at some point in their life.

Certain Hairstyles
There are also some various hairstyles that can lead to hair loss. Some include pig tails or cornrows that involve tight hair rollers, which can cause “traction alopecia”, where your scalp will scar due to the pulling. If the pulling on your hair is stopped before the scarring occurs, the hair loss won’t be permanent.

Treatments

Some medicines that are currently being used to combat hair loss are mioxidil, and finasteride. Minoxidial doesn’t require a prescription, and is simply applied to the scalp by yourself. The other drug, finasteride, is a pill type drug that is only for males. For both these treatments, results are only observable at least six months after the initial use.

If you are a more senior individual looking to combat your sudden hair thinning or baldness, a different hairstyle, or even using artificial hair like wigs may be a better way to resolve your problem rather than turning to a form of medicine.


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