What Are The Causes of Hair Loss
Research shows that most people usually shed 50-100 hairs in a day. But the good thing is that this is normal and does not cause significant thinning of scalp hair as new hair is constantly growing to replace the lost once. However, when the cycle of hair growth and shedding becomes disrupted, or when the hair follicle is damaged and replaced with scar tissue, hair loss is said to occur.
Who are the most affected by hair loss?
Hair loss affects both men and women although men seem to be the most affected. While the exact cause is yet to be fully understood, it is related to several factors including heredity, hormonal changes, medications, and medical conditions. We examine these in detail.
For both women and men, the number one reason for hair loss is female-patterned baldness or male-patterned baldness. This patterned baldness usually occurs steadily and in predictable patterns.
Genetics also determines the age when you begin to lose your hair, baldness extent, and the speed of hair loss. Men are more likely to suffer from patterned baldness than women, and it can start even at the age of puberty. This kind of hair loss tends to involve both hair miniaturization and thinning.
What to do: You can halt this form of hair loss by using oral medications and topical cream for instance minoxidil. These drugs can also make some hair to grow. Another option to deal with genetically induced hair loss is through surgery to graft or transplant hair.
Hormonal changes and medical conditions
Several conditions have been noted to causes hair loss in women and men. These include the following:
Changes and imbalances in hormones can lead to temporary hair loss. This might be due to childbirth, pregnancy, or even the onset of menopause. The thyroid gland also affects hormone levels, so hair loss may be brought about by thyroid problems.
Scalp Infections: Infections on the scalp, for instance, ringworms, can attack the hair as well as the scalp of the skin. If this happens, it can lead to hair loss and scaly patches. But the good news its that the hair will generally grow back after the infection is treated.
Patchy hair loss in women and men: This is a kind of patchy hair loss that is known scientifically as alopecia areata. It occurs when the immune system of the body attacks the hair follicles, which causes sudden hair loss characterized by smooth and roundish patches of bald on the skin.
What to do: The first treatment to patchy hair loss, also known as alopecia areata, and which initially appear as hair loss in circled patches, on your head, is steroid injections. Other drugs, such as Rogaine, may be used as well. The condition may take an unpredictable course, with hair even growing back and then falling off again.
Other skin disorders
Hair-pulling disorder: Also called trichotillomania, this condition causes victims to have an irresistible desire to pull out the hair. This can be from the eyebrows, scalp, or other parts of the body. Other diseases that cause scarring alopecia may lead to permanent hair loss especially in the scarred areas. Such conditions include certain types of lupus, lichen planus, and sarcoidosis among others.
Physical stress: Any type of physical trauma like a car accident, severe illness, or surgery can lead to temporary hair loss especially in women. This can cause a kind of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. Hair tends to have a very definite life cycle. This includes the growth phase, followed by the rest phase, and finally the shedding phase. If you undergo a significantly stressful event, the hair cycle can be shocked and disrupted. When this happens, more hair is pushed into the shedding stage. In 3-6 months following a trauma, hair loss will have been noticeable.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy is a perfect example of how hair loss can be triggered by physical stress. Hair loss linked to pregnancy is experienced more commonly after the delivery of the baby as opposed to during the actual pregnancy.
What to do: Hair loss immediately after going through the full course of a pregnancy is a normal thing. If you lose hair after pregnancy, be assured that it will re-grow in months. You don’t have to do anything.
In the same way, that hormonal changes during pregnancy can make you lose hair, so is going off birth pills or switching to it. Female hormones can cause telogen effluvium, and your chances of being affected become greater if you have hair loss history in your family. Also, the hormonal balance change that happens during the onset of menopause could have the same effect.
According to Mark Hammonds, MD, and a dermatologist with the Scott and White Clinic in Texas, hair follicles will tend to miniaturize after which you will begin losing hair.
What to do: If the problem is brought about by a new Rx, you may want to switch back or even have a word with your health provider regarding other methods of birth control. Sometimes, hair loss is brought about by discontinuing oral contraceptives. However, this is only for a short while. Take care not to worsen your problem using hair-damaging beauty.
Although emotional stress isn’t as likely to lead to hair loss as physical stress, it can still cause it. Sources of emotional stress include going through a divorce, losing a loved one, and caring for your aging parent among other things. In most cases, however, emotional stress won’t cause the hair loss. Rather, it will compound a problem that is already there.
What to do: Just like hair loss occasioned by physical stress, it will eventually stop. Reducing stress isn’t exactly known to help your hair. What is for sure is that it cannot hurt it. there are many things you can do to deal with your stress, like exercising, undergoing therapy, or even seeking professional help if it comes to that.
Vitamin B Deficiency
Low levels of the vitamin, although not very common in the US, have also been shown to promote hair loss in both men and women.
What to do: The simple way to correct hair loss due to low vitamin levels is to supplement your vitamin B intake. Dietary changes are also recommended. You can consume natural Vitamin B in meat, fish, non-citrus fruits and starchy vegetables. Also, eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is recommended. Lean meat and foods rich in good fats like nuts and avocado will be great not only for your hair but also your overall health.
Sudden weight loss
Dramatic weight loss can also lead to thinning of hair. This happens irrespective of whether the weight loss is good for you or not. There are great chances that your body is being affected by weight loss or that not eating correctly can lead to mineral or vitamin deficiencies. Hair loss coupled with significant hair loss could also be indicative of an eating disorder for instance bulimia or anorexia.
What to do:Rapid and sudden loss of weight appears to shock the system. You will most likely undergo a 6-month period of hair loss but it will eventual self-correct.
Certain drugs used to fight off cancer can sadly cause the hair to drop off. Chemotherapy destroys the rapidly dividing cells. While this is good because cancer cells are destroyed, unfortunately, it also destroys quickly dividing cells such as hair.
What to do:Your hair will most likely grow back after the process of chemotherapy is stopped. However, it will have a different color or texture. It is the hope of most cancer victims that researchers will discover more targeted cancer drugs so that its treatment won’t have to go through chemotherapy.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Abbreviated as PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome is an imbalance in female and male sex hormones. An excessive amount of androgen can cause ovarian cysts, elevated risks of diabetes, weight gain, infertility, changes in the menstrual cycle, and hair loss. Since male hormones are in excess in PCOS, THE women may also notice more hair, especially on the body and face.
What to do: The hormonal imbalance can be corrected by treating PCOS. This treatment can help reverse the changes. Treatments will include exercise, diet, specific treatments to deal with diabetes or infertility risks, and changing birth control pills.
Over the years, vigorous hair treatments and styling can lead to your hair falling off. Some examples of rigorous styling are tight braids, cornrows or hair weaves as well as using chemical relaxers for straightening your hair, high heat, or hot-oil treatments. Since these practices can damage the hair root, there are good chances your hair may never grow again.
What to do: Apart from avoiding the vigorous treatments and styles, the ADA (The American Academy of Dermatology) recommends that you use conditioners every time after using shampoo. This way, you let your hair dry and at the same time, you limit the time curling iron gets into contact with the hair.
Here are some of the other treatment options:
Since the available treatments are either expensive or don’t work for everyone, male-patterned baldness is not usually treated. However, there are two medicines that have proven effective in treating this type f baldness and they are finasteride and minoxidil.
This comes as a private prescription from your healthcare provider and it is in the form of tablets taken every day. Finasteride works by preventing the testosterone hormone from being converted into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT makes the hair follicles to shrink. Therefore, blocking its production will allow hair follicles to get back their normal size.
According to studies, finasteride can not only increase the amount of hair that people have and can also improve the perception people have regarding their hair.
This drug comes as a lotion that you rub on the scalp every day. You can purchase it from pharmacies without requiring a prescription. While there is no clarity about how minoxidil works, available evidence suggests that it can lead to regrowth of hair especially in some men. Just like finasteride, you will need to use minoxidil for several months before you see any effect. But the balding process is likely to come back if you discontinue using minoxidil. Any new hair new hair re-growing will fall off 2 months after discontinuation of the treatment. Side effects are not common.
In the case of female-pattern baldness, there is only one drug that is currently available for treating the baldness and its minoxidil. Minoxidil may help to re-grow hair in 25% of women using it, may completely stop or slow loss of hair in other women. Just like men, women also need to use this medicine for several months before seeing any tangible results.
With alopecia areata, there is no treatment that can be said to be completely effective. In most cases, however, the hair can grow back without treatment after one year. You can thus adopt a strategy of watchful waiting especially if you only suffer from small hair patches. Below are some of the treatments for alopecia areata.
These are medicines that contain steroids. They work through inhibiting the body’s immune system. Immune suppression is especially important in treating alopecia areata since the condition is believed to be brought about when the immune system damages the hair follicles. For small alopecia patches, the most effective treatment so far is corticosteroid injections. The medicine can be used not only in the scalp but also in other parts of your body, for instance, your eyebrows.
A solution of corticosteroids:
is severally injected into your skin’s bald areas. This way, your immune system cannot attack hair follicles. The injection may also stimulate the hair to grow again in the bald areas after roughly 4 weeks.
Doctors widely prescribe using topical corticosteroids (ointments and creams) to treat alopecia areata although their long-term advantages are yet to be known. Possible corticosteroids are hydrocortisone betamethasone mometasone These can be found in the form of lotion, foam, or gel depending upon what is the easiest for you. But you can’t use these medications on your face. Possible side effects include acne and thinning of your skin.
Under this method, a chemical solution known as DPCP (diphencyprone) is applied onto the bald skin area. This is then repeated every week using a stronger DPCP dose each time. Eventually, the solution will cause an allergic reaction and make the skin develop mild eczema. This may result in the regrowth of hair after 12 weeks in some cases.
Hair loss affects both men and women and it is something that can have far-reaching consequences. There are many things that bring about the loss of hair and some of them are genetics, certain drugs, chemotherapy, stress, and poor diet. The good news is that hair loss in both men and women is something that is easily treatable. The above are some of the treatment options for hair loss.