05 Feb Westlake Dermatology Tackles Hair Loss from the Root
Between COVID-19 symptoms and the stress of the pandemic itself, women and men are experiencing hair loss more than ever before. Every day, people are asking their dermatologists “Why is my hair falling out in the shower or why am I seeing more clumps in my hairbrush? Westlake Dermatology has seen a huge increase in recent months with patients requesting advice on hair loss supplements, top scalp exfoliation products, or requesting for platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment – the gold standard for hair loss where neither medication nor hair transplant is required. Today we’re speaking with Westlake’s board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Malini Fowler, who is THE expert on hair loss and would be an excellent source for us all to learn more about the contributing factors to hair loss and available treatments.
SLTV: What is the relationship between stress, COVID-19, and hair loss?
MF: It’s multi-factorial, with everything going on. I see patients that have had hair loss due to COVID, either having suffered it themselves or someone they love going through it. Others have had hair loss due to the stress of the pandemic and the uncertainty of what we’re seeing in the world. I have definitely seen patients with different causes for hair loss, like alopecia, which is autoimmune hair loss. I’ve been noting that as those cases were increasing in the past months, since the vaccine has been available, I’ve seen a decrease and I can attribute the immune system building strength thanks to the vaccine.
SLTV: I have people very close to me suffer from Alopecia and noticed that it’s triggered by stressors in their cases, but then the hair loss itself causes more stress, and it feels like a vicious cycle. How can someone bring down their stress level when they’re going through it?
MF: Education helps. Going in to see a physician and receiving those encouraging words that this is treatable and patients can recover from it. That can eliminate the stress. It’s easy to fall into the internet pit and reading all the worst-case scenarios and that can become a scary situation for patients. Speaking to a professional is a lot more reassuring because they would be to provide education and treatment options. This can take the burden off the patient and on the physician. That’s what we’re here for! Now if you talking about decreasing stress in general, I would love to know about that myself!
SLTV: That is fantastic advice! I’ve found myself down the internet rabbit hole and stressing myself out for something that can be treated. Now, can we talk a little bit about hormonal female hair loss related to pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum, and menopause? Would you have any tips to share with us in treating this type of hair loss?
MF: Yes, I see this a lot. One of the medicines I have prescribed is Spirolactone. I don’t recommend this pill for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or actively trying to get pregnant, though. This medication acts directly on the hair follicle and it’s great for patients who experience constant shedding or suffer from female pattern hair loss. For patients looking for something acutely, I love to do PRP. With Protein Rich Plasma, we draw blood, spin it and separate the blood and the plasma and we inject this rich protein substance directly to the scalp. This gives your scalp a kick start to regrow those follicles. Diet is also very important. Fruits and vegetables are very important for healthy hair! In terms of hormonal hair loss, we may want to do bloodwork to see what we’re missing. If there’s a deficiency or if there’s an imbalance, those would be things that we can fix with medication to get those levels back up.
SLTV: I’ve seen PRP used in facials and even Vaginal rejuvenation. What is it about PRP that makes it so versatile?
MF: Oh yes! So, the PRP is the liquid part of blood, and it has natural growth factors, so this is something that helps with healing. When I started with PRP in my clinic, my husband, who’s an orthopedic surgeon asked me “What the heck are you using PRP for?” Orthopedic surgeons have been using PRP as an injection in the shoulders to help their patients heal for a long time now, way before dermatologists started using it. I told him that it’s very effective in other areas like the skin and scalp. It’s definitely not a new treatment, but it’s gained a lot more momentum as we learn more about it and put it to practice in other uses.
SLTV: So, this is much deeper than just beauty! We’re talking about health and nutrition as well. I understand that these hair loss supplements and even scalp treatments are recommended in these cases. Are these available at Westlake Dermatology?
MF: Yes, we carry the Nutrafol line, which recommended for women who are quite yet at the menopause age. There is a special line for Menopausal women and a special line for men, as well. Major ingredients in those products include Saw Palmetto, which helps with the hormones behind the testosterone and antioxidants that protect the scalp from environmental damage. Those are things you want to look for in natural supplements.
SLTV: That’s wonderful! There are many options available for hair loss including stress reduction and even mental health care. What are your top pieces of advice for people in those beginning stages as they notice that their hair is thinning?
MF: First thing, DON’T FREAK OUT! Seek a physician that will explain what’s going on. Know that you’re not alone. We often see things in a bubble and when we are faced with these challenges it’s hard to see beyond what’s in front of us, but there is treatment out there. During those first stages of hair loss can be very stressful and it can be almost like an avalanche. Stress can only perpetuate the problem and even make it worst. If you can, try not to stress out and seek help as soon as you can. At Westlake, we’re here for your medical and cosmetic needs. You can get your overall care for skin and wellness.