Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) Job loss stress and anxiety seem to be causing an increasing number of people in Taiwan to lose their hair, with a higher incidence of the condition occurring among females, medical doctors in northern Taiwan said Wednesday.
Li Cheng-hung, a dermatologist at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taipei, told reporters that among his patients, more women than men are suffering from alopecia areata, a skin disorder that causes the hair to fall out in round or oval patches.
Citing a typical case, Li said a 20-year-old female worker at an information technology company had developed bald spots from constantly worrying that she might lose her job because her boss might not be happy with her work performance.
Li said it took over six months of treatment, using a combination of methods, for the woman's hair to grow back.
He added that physical and psychological stress can disrupt a person's immune system and destroy the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.
The skin doctor advised people with such problems to consult a hospital dermatologist instead of seeking unconventional treatment.
He said a dermatologist will usually assess a patient's condition before giving localized treatment, prescribing medicines or using the pulse therapy -- a short, intensive administration of pharmacotherapy.
At Chang Gung Memorial Hospital's Linkou branch in northern Taiwan, another skin doctor, Huang Yao-li, confirmed that the number of hair loss patients is on the rise, probably because of the growing stress of everyday life.
"The skin and the hair are like a mirror that can reflect the degree of stress a person is experiencing," he said, adding that in addition to seeking medical treatment, patients need to learn how to cope with stress.
Although emotional stress is believed to be a contributing factor to alopecia areata, it is not fully known what is the primary cause of the condition.
Some researchers believe that genetic factors play an important role, since there is a higher incidence of alopecia areata among people who have a family history of the disorder.
(By Han Nai-kuo)