Hair loss is an everyday concern to millions of men and women worldwide. While one of the most common causes of hair loss is androgenic alopecia – male and female pattern baldness – there are many other factors that create follicular challenges. Here are just a few of them:
The Programmed Three-Part Life Cycle – Growth, Resting and Shedding
Extreme stress, be it physical (trauma, a severe illness, flu) or psychological (a bereavement, for example) can shock this cycle, forcing more hair into the shedding phase. This condition, known as telogen effluvium, is usually only temporary and, in the majority of cases, hair will regrow.
A Hereditary Predisposition
Two thirds of men will experience male pattern baldness, and genetics is understood to be a key factor where a man’s hair follicles are predisposed to be oversensitive to the male hormone DHT.
Side Effects of Prescription Drugs
If you see your doctor about your hair loss, one of the first questions they will ask is if you are on any medication. It is not just chemotherapy that lists alopecia as a side effect but many drugs including anti-thyroid medication, anti coagulants and anti-convulsants, too.
An elevated oestrogen level can boost hair growth (as is evident during pregnancy), and a dip can precipitate hair loss, notably in post-menopausal women. With lower levels of oestrogen, male hormones are freer to roam and to set about miniaturising the hair follicles, hampering regeneration.
Auto Immune Conditions
With some conditions the body becomes confused, mistakenly identifying hair follicles as foreign bodies. It then sets about attacking the follicles, resulting in patches of baldness or ‘alopecia areata’.
A Lack Of Protein
If there is insufficient protein in your system, your body has to embark on a rationing programme. Part of this is to shut down hair growth. Eat protein-rich foods to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Women with PCOS experience an imbalance in the male and female sex hormones and this can often lead to diffuse thinning.
Similarly, anabolic steroids favoured by men keen to bulk up can cause an imbalance in hormone levels, resulting in restricted hair follicles and reduced growth.
Overly Zealous Styling
It is easy to take our hair for granted – at least, until it starts falling out. Before you reach for the hot-oil treatments or decide on tight braids, hair weaves or chemical relaxers, bear in mind that over-styling can make hair that was once strong and lustrous increasingly fragile.