Columbus, OH,
14:00 PM

Medical Minute: Alopecia

MM - Hair Loss_1

There has been a lot of talk this week following The Academy Awards and the slap by actor Will Smith of comedian Chris Rock. A medical component of this is where the onstage joke started. Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith has been open on her battle with alopecia, or hair loss.

The Mayo Clinic describes alopecia as a condition that can affect just your scalp or your entire body, and it can be temporary or permanent. It can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions or a normal part of aging. Anyone can lose hair on their head, but it's more common in men.

Frank Morocco, DO, is a dermatologist with OhioHealth Marion General Hospital, and says that hair loss can impact men, women and children.

“It can come from inflammation, from scarring, really a number of different things can cause hair loss,” Dr. Morocco said.

Dr. Morocco says there are some treatment options.

“Treatments can be difficult, so it is very important to work with a dermatologist who can come up with the best option.  There are topical treatments, systemic medications, as well as shampoo and medications, as well as some new, exciting medications coming that could really help," Dr. Morocco said.

Signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:

  • Gradual thinning on top of head. This is the most common type of hair loss, affecting people as they age. In men, hair often begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead. Women typically have a broadening of the part in their hair. An increasingly common hair loss pattern in older women is a receding hairline (frontal fibrosing alopecia).
  • Circular or patchy bald spots. Some people lose hair in circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard or eyebrows. Your skin may become itchy or painful before the hair falls out.
  • Sudden loosening of hair. A physical or emotional shock can cause hair to loosen. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or even after gentle tugging. This type of hair loss usually causes overall hair thinning but is temporary.
  • Full-body hair loss. Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over your body. The hair usually grows back.
  • Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp. This is a sign of ringworm. It may be accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling and, at times, oozing.