Hair loss is a normal part of life. A normal (healthy) person loses about 100 hairs every day. It is usually exhibited by a few strands of hair in your hair comb or brush. The lost hairs are replaced through the body’s natural hair growth process.
However, excessive hair loss is a condition that occurs when a person loses more hair than the hair that is re-growing. Extreme hair loss in both men and women is usually referred to as alopecia. It is also sometimes referred to as male and female pattern baldness.
It results in the hair breaking, thinning or losing volume. Severe cases of hair loss causes baldness in certain parts of the head or body or the whole head and body.
There are many causes of hair loss including factors and ailments. In this article we discuss ten common causes of hair loss in both men and women.
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The 10 Causes of Hair Loss in Men and Women
Here’s a run-down of the ten common reasons for hair fall. We’ve also talked about what you can do about them.
A common cause of hair loss is a hereditary hair condition commonly referred to as female pattern baldness and male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is referred to as androgenetic alopecia. Its symptoms are bald spots at the top and front of the scalp and a receding hair line.
In males, it usually occurs during old age but it may start as early as when a person is 30 years old. It is linked to high levels of the male hormone testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) (1).
High levels of these two hormone leads to a decrease in hair follicle size leading to baldness.
Hormonal Imbalances and Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes occurs in both men and women. In women, hormonal changes occur especially during pregnancy and when the mother is nursing her baby.
During pregnancy and nursing, the body of the woman requires more nutrients to sustain the growing baby and to produce milk for the nursing baby. A deficient in nutrients can lead to hair loss.
In men, as mentioned earlier, changes in the hormones DHT and testosterone may result in hair loss.
Hair and hair follicles are produced and nourished by proteins and other nutrients including Vitamin A and D (2).
Therefore, various food deficiencies are associated with hair loss including irons, minerals and vitamins. Iron deficiencies usually lead to anemia which can cause hair loss.
As such, you need a diet with the correct amounts of proteins, vitamins and other essential nutrients for proper hair growth which prevents hair loss. Proper hair growth prevents hair thinning, breakage and hair loss.
Worth noting, hair loss as a result of a poor diet is easy to reverse. You should eat nutrient rich foods like spinach which is a good source of iron, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C and other food foods and food supplements to reverse the condition.
Hair loss, hair breakage or thinning can occur if hair chemicals like relaxers, hair dyes, bleaching agents and hair gels are used for an extended period of time or if not applied properly.
It can also result if the hair is not rinsed well and this is if your hair is not handle by a professional or if you are a DIY person.
Also there is a tiny probability of hair loss occurrence when there is a prolonged exposure to chlorinated water.
Side Effects of Various Medical Treatments
There are various medical conditions that lead to hair loss. It includes an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata or scalp infections like ringworms which is quite common in children.
Additionally, hair loss is one of the side effects that affects patients treating different conditions. It affects cancer patients on chemotherapy and lupus patients on medication.
Hair loss also affects patients with thyroid disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems and depression on medication. In addition, it also affects some women sensitive to certain types of birth control.
Aging and Hair loss
Hair loss is one of the natural signs of aging in millions of men and women with symptoms including loss of hair volume and hair thickness. It is usually as a result of hormonal imbalances and changes.
The condition is more common in men than women with more than half of the males having signs of hair loss by the time they are 50. In fact, by the age of 70, nearly four out of five men have some kind of hair loss.
In women, menopause usually results in hormonal changes resulting in grey hair, hair loss and a receding hairline (3).
This is because of a reduction in the production of progesterone and estrogen, hormones that are vital in hair growth.
Stress and Hair Loss
Stress is one of the factors that causes hair loss in both men and women. The stress can be due to a traumatic condition, a serious illness, surgery or childbirth. Worth noting, the condition is temporary and reverses within months of its occurrence.
There are three main hair loss conditions associated with high levels of stress namely telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania.
Telogen effluvium is a reversible condition caused by stress normally characterized by your hair thinning or hair shedding. It is a very common hair loss condition. The stress levels makes the hair follicles go into a resting phase resulting in hair loss because they cannot perform their function.
Alopecia areata on the other hand, is a skin disorder that occurs when the hair growth process is attacked by the body’s immune system due to high stress levels. The hair usually falls out in small patches resulting in baldness. The symptoms of this autoimmune condition can be reduced through treatment but the condition is not reversible.
Thirdly is trichotillomania. It is a self-inflicted psychological condition. As such, it is a mental disorder characterized by an urge to pull one’s hair out. It happens in individuals experiencing high levels of stress. The stress can be due to puberty or menopause. Such individuals should consult a therapist to help deal with the root cause of the stress.
Use Of Heating Irons
Exposure of the hair to extreme heat from flat irons or other types of heating irons dehydrates the hair leading to hair loss. Extreme heat on your hair and scalp is harmful to your health because it results in the breaking down of proteins in the hair which causes the hair to thin, split ends, and eventual hair loss.
The condition can be resolved by selecting the right temperature heat setting for your hair. It involves using heating irons with a temperature gauge, the heat used on your head should be below 347 degrees.
Bad Hairstyles e.g. Ponytails in Women
Some hair styles results in the pulling of hair causing hair loss. The condition is called traction alopecia. The hair styling causes trauma to your hair follicles due to the tight hair that causes pulling of the hair.
Common hair styles that cause this condition include cornrows, buns, extensions and ponytails. In this regard, avoid tight hair styles to prevent tension on your head.
Improper Use of Combs And Brushes
Day to day routines of maintaining hair can be extreme on the scalp and hair follicles resulting in hair loss. You should choose the right hair combs for use when your hair is wet or dry to prevent hair loss.
Wet hair gets tangled easily and is more sensitive to handle than dry hair. It is best combed with a wide-toothed comb and combed the right way to prevent hair breakage and falling.
Related to this condition, the hair can also fall out when the right hair chemicals are not used like hair conditioners which results in the wet hair tangling and falling out.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hair Loss & Hair Thinning
The good thing with hair loss is that there are usually minimal body symptoms when hair loss occurs unless the condition is caused by other underlying issues like chemotherapy.
However, you should get concerned when the shedding is extreme, leading to bald patches on the head.
In this case, it is advisable to consult a professional when dealing with any condition of hair loss so that you can get to the root of the problem.
On top of that, you should always let a professional handle your hair dos and styling.
Consult a Specialist
You can consult a qualified dermatologist or a general physician. Worth noting, there are various treatment options available to choose from, depending on the cause of the condition.
For hair loss conditions caused by vitamin and food deficiencies, a physician should prescribe food supplements and dietary change. For patients going through stress, they should consult a therapist to manage their stress levels.
For patients on chemotherapy, they should consider ways of covering their bald heads until their treatment process is complete. If you’re on that journey to recovery, only take advice from your doctor.
That said, there are various hair cures including taking oral medications, magnetic resonance imaging, taking iron supplements among other cures.
Hair loss is a natural body process that occurs everyday in both men and women. Fortunately, depending on the underlying cause and the extent of the loss, it’s always possible to do something about it.
Some hair loss conditions are reversible while others such as scarring alopecia can be difficult to reverse.
For hair loss conditions that are irreversible, you should work with your dertmatologist or cosmetic surgeon. They can always help you explore the options available all thanks to the advances made in modern medicine.