Hair loss can be emotionally upsetting. But know that you are not alone in experiencing possible hair thinning; thousands of women and men experience a bout of hair loss through their lives. The good news is that hair loss, one of the most prevalent problems dermatologists see, is usually treatable. The first thing to do is identify what’s triggering your hair loss. And the key is early intervention.
What Is Alopecia (Hair Loss)?
Any kind of hair loss is called “alopecia” in the medical world. Against popular belief, you can lose your hair at any age. Hair loss due to alopecia is not fatal, but it can have a profound emotional and psychological impact on those who suffer from it.
The loss of 50–100 hairs a day is completely average. Yet, excessive loss could indicate that there is a thinning process going on.
Possible symptoms of abnormal hair loss include:
- Experiencing hair thinning, as seen by a sparser ponytail
- patches of thinning hair that get bigger over time
- Hair that is gradually becoming more parted
Many things can cause alopecia, and some of them run in families. Symptoms and patterns of hair loss can vary widely depending on the underlying cause. Your doctor may be able to make a diagnosis after asking you some questions and taking a look at your scalp.
Review the most frequent factors in hair thinning before you go in for that consultation.
Hair thinning and balding are natural changes of ageing that affect virtually everyone. At every age, cells divide and die. Nevertheless, as we get older, cell death outpaces cell regeneration. Hair can become dry and brittle as people age because oil production in the scalp decreases. The general health of your hair may suffer as a result.
Genetics As A Cause of Hair Loss
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss. It is caused by genes and gets worse with age. In the US, this affects 50+ million men and 30+ million women. The onset of this severe form of hair loss typically occurs in the early adult years and accelerates with time. Its manifestations can vary with the individuals it strikes.
Most patterns of hair loss in men begin in the temples and progress upward to the crown of the head. Some thinning at the crown of the skull is also possible.
Female-pattern hair loss typically begins at the part and spreads gradually over the head. The hairline usually remains unchanged, but the portion can go wider.
Hair loss can be caused by hormone imbalances as well, most notably the rapid changes in hormone levels that occur after giving birth. Around half of all new mothers experience some degree of hair loss.
During pregnancy, oestrogen levels that are higher than normal can temporarily mess up how hair grows. When going through this phase, you may notice less hair loss than usual.
Increased hair loss is possible as oestrogen levels return to normal following pregnancy. Mums often experience the loss of some of their hair or bald spots after giving birth. It is extremely common to lose your hair after delivery, and can begin anywhere from one month to six months after giving birth, with symptoms persisting for as long as 18 months.
Your hair follicles will begin to recuperate alongside the rest of your body. Your hair will grow back after this temporary shedding phase. Preventing postpartum hair loss is impossible, but you can lessen its severity by treating your hair gently and taking your prenatal vitamins regularly.
Higher androgen levels, such as those seen in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), can lead to female-pattern hair loss.
If you are a woman with more noticeable hair loss and any of the following symptoms, you may want to discuss getting your hormone levels checked with your doctor.
- An overabundance of hair, especially on the face or body.
- Irregular periods
Pregnancy, delivery, menopause, and hypothyroidism are all examples of conditions that can produce significant fluctuations in hormone levels and hence have the potential to influence hair development. Even switching drugs can be the culprit if said meds have an effect on your hormone levels. One side effect of stopping birth control tablets is the loss of hair for some women. In majority of these instances, medication can prevent or even reverse the process.
A variety of hormonal disorders can contribute to hair thinning.Thyroid hormones may be involved in a few of them.
Hair loss can be the result of a hormonal imbalance, which can be brought on by either an underactive thyroid (a medical disease known as hypothyroidism) or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
One of the many things that thyroid hormones help control in the body is how fast hair grows. Hair loss can be stopped and new hair growth can begin with the correct treatment for either of these thyroid problems.
Hair loss occurs when an autoimmune disorder-related inflammation attacks healthy hair follicles. Hair loss can be either transitory (and hence treatable) or permanent (and therefore disabling). Here we will examine two other widespread health issues:
Patches of baldness, about the size of a coin, are the most common symptom of alopecia areata. They can appear on any part of the body. It can range from being quite minor (affecting only a few areas) to being really severe (affecting the entire scalp, face, and body). Unfortunately, treatment is now futile. Nonetheless, hair typically grows back without any intervention. Hair growth can be stimulated by a variety of treatments, such as steroid injections or the novel medicine Olumiant (baricitinib).
Hair and skin are just two of the many organs and tissues that lupus erythematosus can damage. Those who suffer from lupus are more likely to lose hair on their scalps generally. Some people experience hair loss along with a rash that is rough and scaley and either red or brown in colour. Hair regrowth after lupus treatment depends on the cause of hair loss.
Stress As A Cause of Hair Loss
Stress of any kind, whether physical or mental, can cause you to lose your hair. This includes things like getting sick or having surgery.
When life-changing events like a divorce or breakup, bankruptcy or other money problems, the loss of a house, or the death of a loved one cause a lot of emotional stress, hair growth can be thrown off. If you lose your hair because of stress, it is usually just temporary, and regular hair growth can be resumed once stress levels have been brought under control. Normally, it takes between three and six months for hair to regrow following a stressful event.
Nutritional deficits have been linked to hair loss in some cases. Loss of hair and excessive shedding have all been linked to deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, and zinc.
Vitamin deficiency is usually quite simple to treat with dietary supplements. It is vital to consult your doctor before beginning a new supplement regimen since they will likely do blood work to determine your current levels before making a supplement recommendation.
Medications As A Cause of Hair Loss
Thinning hair is a common adverse effect of some drugs. Some people may have hair loss while taking these commonly prescribed drugs, but this is not always the case:
- Medications that reduce cholesterol levels (like atorvastatin and simvastatin)
- Medications that lower blood pressure (like captopril and lisinopril)
- Cimetidine, an antacid (Tagamet),
- Colchicine is a drug used to treat gout (Colcrys).
- Isotretinoin, an anti-acne drug (Accutane),
- Testosterone and progesterone are two types of steroids.
If you have hair loss after starting a new medicine, inform your doctor immediately. They can suggest an alternative and help you wean off the problematic drug gradually.
Chemotherapy And Radiation
Many people with cancer who will be getting chemotherapy or radiation worry that they will lose their hair.Rapidly dividing cells in the body are targeted by chemotherapy medications in an effort to prevent the formation of tumours and the spread of existing ones. Nevertheless, chemotherapy can also damage hair because the cells in hair follicles divide and multiply so rapidly.
Hair loss can also be a side effect of radiation therapy, which is used to treat cancer. While chemotherapy can result in body-wide baldness, radiation therapy typically only affects the treated area.
In most cases, hair loss can be treated with either method temporarily. After finishing therapy, your hair should begin to grow again.
Don’t freak out if you start losing hair. First, book an appointment with a dermatologist who is board-certified. Avoid wasting time on potentially ineffective home treatments and hair supplements. The risks far outweigh any potential benefits.