Excessive hair loss is probably among the top concerns for both men and women. After all, your hair is one of the first things people notice about you. Hair becomes naturally thinner with age, but there are many other underlying causes. Hair loss can take many forms, including the gradual thinning, patchy bald spots, sudden loosening of hair and more. It is important to discuss your family history, habits, health issues and medications, and the ways in which you are losing hair with your doctor in order to establish a cause, and to find appropriate treatment. Let’s examine some of the reasons why hair loss occurs.
Although men and women lose hair in different ways, and at different times, heredity plays a role in both genders, especially when it comes to the pattern and extent of the hair loss. Men begin to lose hair earlier in life, and usually, the hair line recedes partially or completely. For women, the hair becomes thinner in the front, sides or top of the head.
Scarring alopecia, characterized by inflamed hair follicles, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder, both lead to hair loss. Scarring alopecia has been linked to conditions such as lupus, and alopecia areata appears in otherwise healthy people, although it may be linked to thyroid disease and other autoimmune disorders. Another reason for hair loss can be traction alopecia, in which hair is repeated pulled back so tightly that the roots weaken and the hair falls out.
When hair falls out suddenly – after a traumatic event, such as a loss of a loved one, or a major health issue – it is usually because of telogen effluvium. It can happen a few times to the same person, as some people are more susceptible to telogen effluvium than others. The good news is, hair generally grows back, especially if treated.
While genetics in the case of hair loss may be stronger than environmental factors, the latter shouldn’t be overlooked. People with an iron or a vitamin B12 deficiency may experience hair loss. Protein deficiency can also cause these symptoms. Likewise, an overuse of anabolic steroid – even in a person with a healthy diet – can be an underlying cause for baldness.
Conditions such as diabetes, lupus and high blood pressure are known to contribute to baldness. In addition, psychological issues such as depression and eating disorders can also lead to hair loss. Trichotillomania, a disorder in which people compulsively pull their hair out, is another potential cause.
For some, hair loss is a side effect of the medication they are taking. It is known, for example, that some of the arthritis medications and blood thinners have this side effect. In addition, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause hair loss, but the hair usually grows back after the treatment is over.
Women undergo massive hormonal changes at different points of their lives – during pregnancy, after childbirth, at the onset of menopause, after discontinuing birth control, etc. During pregnancy, for example, many develop thicker hair, which they then shed after delivery. Polycystic ovary syndrome is another potential cause for female hair loss.
Whatever the cause, there are solutions for every type of underlying issue, whether for temporary or permanent hair loss. Make an appointment to talk to Dr. Max today.