There is never a good time to discover you are losing hair, for men and women alike it comes as a deeply unwelcome shock. Identifying the reason for your hair loss is vital, and can be a challenge.. we take a closer look.
Two thirds of all men by the age of 60 will experience hair loss, you might be surprised to read that it is similar story for women. The presentation of the most common cause of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia (the type inherited in our genes), is different for men and women – men seeing a recession at the temples and crown ahead of a gradual descent towards the horseshoe of hair connecting the ears around the back of the head. For women the thinning is more diffuse and occurs behind the hairline usually affecting the whole of the top of the head but most pronounced along what would be a center parting.
The Usual, And Unusual, Suspects
While genes are the most common cause of hair loss they are a million miles from being the only one. Several of the causes are treatable, some by simply stopping a particular type of behaviour, but it is vital to identify the underlying issue.
This list is our attempt at identifying all the possible causes. If your problem is not genetic the truth is somewhere in there. This is not designed so that you can self diagnose and prescribe, it is offered as a checklist against which you might be able to narrow down the possible causes in your own case… it should be used to help inform a conversation between you and your doctor.
Stress seems to be endemic in our modern lives, we all have to manage it. Stress leading to hair loss usually has an identifiable source… it can be anything from being involved in a car crash to surgery, a family bereavement or a severe illness. Often but not always reversible.
It is common for a pregnant woman to lose some hair and not altogether surprising given the radical changes and stress that the body is put under. This is invariably a temporary situation.
Overdosing on Vitamin A has been linked with hair loss, so you might be advised to go easy on the dairy and not get to carried away with those leafy vegetables.
Protein, which hair is made of, is a vital part of the diet to promote hair health. It has become more of an issue with the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets but even for the health conscious it is entirely possible to meet your protein needs with a little planning.
Vitamin B is essential to healthy hair, and plenty more besides. With an estimated 10% of American women suffering from low levels of Vitamin B it is clearly something that a lot of us would benefit from adding to our diet… fruit nuts and avocado are all great sources.
Most commonly seen in menopausal women this can also be triggered in younger women changing their birth control pill… if you think this might be affecting you then consult your doctor immediately.
Iron deficiency is a common problem with 10% of American women between the ages of 20 and 49 are affected. A simply blood test can confirm and iron tablets an effective treatment.
An underactive thyroid gland can produce a range of unwanted symptoms, including hair loss. Hair loss can act as an early warning sign of this serious condition, again a simple test at your doctors will confirm and the treatment is medication.
On occasion the immune system can go awry and begin to attack hair follicles. This can lead to conditions like alopecia areata, where the hair falls out in circles. It can even result in the complete loss of all body hair. This requires the support of your doctor as steroid injections are a likely element of the treatment.
Lupus is an auto immune disease. Aggressively attacking your hair it can result in bald patches and mean that your hair no longer grows. Prognosis for lupus sufferers is not great for a return to a full head of hair, a more likely future is for careful hair management.
Dramatic Weight Loss
Sudden weight loss is a major trauma for the body, in addition the way you got there will be significant. In many cases the lack of vitamins and minerals will aggravate things and hair loss will be the result. A return to a healthy lifestyle and more sensible eating should see the sufferer recover fully.
The effect of the powerful drugs used is usually catastrophic for hair. Because they specifically target fast dividing cells, looking for cancerous ones of course, they naturally target hair cells.. the fastest growing cells on the human body.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS)
Another hormonal imbalance POS is known to lead to ovarian cysts and changing menstrual cycles. While hair loss can be a feature so can growing hair in new places. Diagnosis is available through your doctor and treatment is a course to address the hormone imbalance.
Anti-depressants, including beta blockers, are known to negatively affect hair. Check with your doctor to find out if any of your medication has hair loss as a known side effect.
The modern taste for young men to spend time in the gym has seen an explosion in the consumption of these muscle building drugs. The trade-off is that there is a recognised negative effect on the hair, among other far more serious side effects.
This is a condition that sees the sufferer pulling or scratching at their own hair. Over time this compulsive behaviour will produce bald patches. A complete return to a full head of hair can be expected in all but the most extreme of cases.
Any style that pulls on the hair will damage the follicles. Cornrows and braiding are obvious examples but even elastic strings that gather the hair will pull, particularly along the hairline. Dyes and other harsh chemicals should be used sparingly.
Last, but not least, there is getting older. It sees a gradual decline in the number of follicles and their individual thickness. By the time we are reaching our fifties there is not much to do but live healthily and look after what you have as best you can.
HIS Hair Clinic
With that bewildering list of possible causes it is some comfort that modern medicine is attacking hair loss on a range of fronts. To discover how your situation can be addressed, and which of the great range of solutions and treatments available are appropriate for you, simply click here to find your nearest HIS Hair Clinic and arrange a consultation with one of our knowledgeable friendly experts.