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Hair and Nail Disorders

Problems with your hair or nails?  It could be a fungus or bacteria causing the issue.  Your hormones or heredity could be contributing factors as well.  The most common nail disorders affect the toenails and involve bacteria or debris entering the nail area.

photo of a young woman looking at her fingernails

Your fingernails provide insight into your health

This article from the November issue of Real Simple magazine mentions some symptoms that may warrant a visit to the dermatologist. Examples include ridges in fingernails that suddenly appear — they could be related to an inflammatory skin condition.  Longitudinal ridges and lines in nails are also a common sign of aging when they grow in over time.

Common hair disorders include alopecia (hair loss), baldness, hirsutism (excessive female hair growth) and hair shaft disorders caused by how you treat your hair.

Treatment for hair and nail disorders will depend on the type of disorder and its underlying cause. Many nail disorders can be effectively treated through oral or topical medications to get rid of the infection, while hair disorders can also be treated with medication to stimulate hair growth.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss can occur as a result of aging, heredity, medications or an underlying medical condition and can affect men and women of all ages. It may leave you with pattern baldness, patchy spots or thinned hair. Most people are troubled by this undesired change to their appearance and may be frustrated that there is no cure available for this condition.

Androgenic Alopecia (AA) is a common form of incurable hair loss that occurs in many males and some females. Also known as Male Pattern Baldness, the disorder causes men to lose their hair in a characteristic manner, with the hairline receding into a sort of “M” shape across the forehead while hair along the crown thins out. In Female Pattern Baldness, there is no recession of the hairline but a thinning of all hair equally. In addition, female AA rarely causes total baldness.

Alopecia Areata only affects 1 to 2 percent of the United States population.  It is an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s hair to fall out as the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Hair often falls out in clumps and can be maintained in a small area or may lead to severe hair loss.  You can just lose the hair on the scalp, or it can involve all the hair-bearing areas, including the eyebrows and the eyelashes.  Some people may have an increased risk if they have a family history of the disease or of other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or lupus. Children and young adults are also commonly affected.

Hair loss treatment

While many people let the condition progress naturally, several treatments are available to help promote hair growth or hide hair loss. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the location and extent of the hair loss but may include hair growth medications, wigs and hairpieces, and hair transplant or scalp reduction surgery.

Topical medications such as Minoxidil are effective in both men and women, while the hormone-based Finasteride is most frequently used by men.

Although alopecia areata cannot be cured, there are several treatment options available to help promote new hair growth and prevent further hair loss. Corticosteroids are often used to treat autoimmune diseases and may be administered as injections, pills or topical ointment to suppress the immune system from attacking the hair follicles.

Minoxidil and other hair growth products can be used to help stimulate hair growth from areas that have been affected. A combination of these treatment options may improve their effectiveness, but there is no guaranteed treatment for alopecia areata.

New treatment shows promise for hair re-growth

shutterstock_374941498PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is a new method to treat hair loss (androgenic alopecia). Some patients experience a reduction in hair loss after several PRP treatments and also an improvement in the volume and coverage of hair on treated areas of the scalp.  PRP is an injectable made from your blood! PRP speeds healing and has been used for years to help athletes recover from injuries and to repair tendons and joints.

A small amount of your blood is drawn, and then with a centrifuge, the platelet-rich plasma is extracted. After the injections of the PRP into your scalp, you may experience some redness, a little swelling, or even bruising for a few days.  Ask Dr. Golomb if PRP treatment is right for you.

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