The normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 3 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimetre per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is growing at any one time. About 10 percent of the hair on your scalp, at any one time, is in a resting phase. After 3 to 4 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place.
It is normal to shed some hair each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss, therefore it is understandable that many people wish to understand the various hair loss causes, and why specifically, it is affecting them in particular.
What causes excessive hair loss?
There are a number of excessive hair loss causes, however the most common cause unfortunately, is genetics. Hair loss often skips generations, so it is not necessarily the fault of your immediate parents. For most men with a family history of hair loss, there is little that can be done to absolutely ‘cure’ the loss of your hair.
There are however, other hair loss causes that may be applicable, depending on your circumstances:
About 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.
Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.
Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they’ve had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.
Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, high blood pressure or heart problems, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.
Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines.
Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.
Can certain hairstyles or treatments cause hair loss?
Yes. Men or women sporting tight hairstyles that pull on your hair, can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called “perms”) may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.
What is common baldness?
“Common baldness” is usually a reference to male pattern baldness, also called androgenetic alopecia. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.
Women may develop female pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair can become thin over the entire scalp.
Can my doctor do something to stop hair loss?
Perhaps. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your diet, any medicines you’re taking, whether you’ve had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. If you’re a woman, your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.
Is there any treatment for hair loss?
Depending on which of the above hair loss causes is affecting you, treatments may be available. If a medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognising and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss.
Medicines may also help slow or prevent the development of male pattern baldness. One medicine called Minoxidil (branded as Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp, and both men and women can use it. Another medicine, Finasteride (branded as Propecia), is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working. Procerin is another medication available.
Drugs such as Rogaine, Propecia or Procerin may help to reduce hair loss, however their effectiveness is an issue of much debate. What is certain however, is that such drugs do not work for everyone.
What about MHT®?
MHT®, or Micro Hair Technique, offered by HIS Hair Clinics is not a cure for hair loss, and will not therefore, enable your hair to grow back. It does, however, provide a very effective camouflage for hair loss, that unlike wigs or temporary concealers, offers a permanent solution for hair loss sufferers.