Hair loss - what to do?

Your own hair is important for self-confidence. If the hair becomes less, most people suffer, especially women. Hair loss is often the cause of this condition. In women, this can lead to increased hair loss during and after menopause. First of all, a broad middle parting is formed and instead of strong hair, a soft fluff grows here. Then hair falls out all over the head.

This leads to thinner hair, a diffuse thinning of the hair. In men, congenital hair loss occurs much more pronounced and also significantly earlier, sometimes in adolescence. It begins with secret rats' corners and bald spots on the back of the head and gradually spreads to a bald head until only one resistant ring of hair is left. These men have particularly sensitive hair follicles that react to androgens, the male sex hormones.

In the case of congenital hair loss, there are effective aids for men and women. On the one hand, it is the active ingredient Minoxidil, which is applied directly to the affected hair areas twice a day as a 2% solution for women and 5% solution for men. The physicians assume that the active ingredient, which has been used to treat hypertension for a long time, expands the fine blood vessels around the hair follicle. In addition, there is also the active ingredient finasteride for men, which is taken daily in tablet form. Finasteride inhibits a certain enzyme that normally converts the male hormone testosterone into the hair root damaging dihydrotestosterone, or DHT for short. With both these products, hair loss is stopped or slowed down and the proliferation of more and stronger hair is promoted.

There are currently no other effective hair growth agents available, even though many promising miracle cures are offered in Internet and drugstores. Even the two above-mentioned drugs only have an effect if thinner hair or at least fuzz can be seen on the thinner areas. However, the effect immediately diminishes if the medication is no longer taken. Since the medications are not paid for by the health insurance companies, men from a certain age on often renounce it and stand by their changed appearance. Young men, however, as well as women usually find it more difficult to come to terms with the loss of their hair. However, you should consult your dermatologist before taking medication to check whether the condition is actually caused by hair loss and not by illness. Thyroid diseases and some infections such as herpes zoster or fungal diseases can also lead to hair loss. Important: In this case, hair loss is only the symptom, not the disease. If the underlying disease is detected and treated, the hair will grow back again. However, some medicines, such as beta-blockers for high blood pressure, some blood lipid reducers, anti-thyroid under- or over-function drugs, and blood thinners can also promote hair loss.

Another form is circular hair loss, the Alopecia areata. Coin-sized bald spots can form at any point on the scalp and spread from there. The cause is an inflammatory process in the sense of an autoimmune disease: there is no causal therapy here, but in more than 50 percent of cases spontaneous healing occurs within two years.

Another option for hair loss in the case of advanced hair loss is to undergo a hair transplantation - like some celebrities, such as soccer coach Jürgen Klopp. However, as the hair is only redistributed and not reproduced by transplantation, it is advisable to seek serious and comprehensive advice beforehand. Even if hair loss continues to progress, the result of the hair transplantation should still look reasonable.

Hair loss is often also associated with cancer, as a particularly stressful side effect of chemotherapy. The risk of hair loss depends, among other things, on the dose administered and the chemotherapeutic agent administered. Radiation therapy also damages hair root cells, but only if the radiation dose hits the scalp directly. Radiation therapy in other regions, e. g. breast or prostate, does not cause hair loss in the head. In combination with cancer, hair loss is so stressful for patients because it works like a stigma. The affected person is not only ill, but immediately recognizable sick for his environment. There are two ways of dealing with the situation: Either you don't care about the opinion of others and you concentrate on the most important thing, namely getting well again. Or you want to decide who will know about your illness and wear a scarf or a wig. Remember that your hair will grow back - usually stronger and fuller than before. By the way, it can be helpful if you get a wig before chemotherapy. This is possible on prescription against health insurance of about 200 euros. If you have private supplementary health insurance, it can reimburse the remaining costs. Make sure you have a well-fitting and good looking wig, preferably one with real hair. Today, there are such products for every type and every taste. And it can be worn in all situations, in everyday life, during sports, swimming, celebrations or in the sauna.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Marielle Becker