What Causes Hair Loss?
Androgenetic alopecia is a common form of hair loss in both men and women. In men, this condition is also known as male-pattern baldness. Hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Over time, the hairline recedes to form a characteristic “M” shape. Hair also thins at the crown (near the top of the head), often progressing to partial or complete baldness.
The pattern of hair loss in women differs from male-pattern baldness. In women, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not recede. Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.
Androgenetic Alopecia affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. Androgenetic alopecia can start as early as a person’s teens and risk increases with age; more than 50 percent of men over age 50 have some degree of hair loss. In women, hair loss is most likely after menopause.
Another cause is over-processing, from coloring, thermal straightening, or perming, which can cause so much damage that the hair literally starts to fall out. Wearing hair in a tight ponytail on a repeated basis or wearing heavy braids, weaves, or extensions also can cause profuse hair loss, especially along the hairline. The roots of the hair simply cannot take the added weight of these enhancements, and eventually it will fall out by the handful.
Medical conditions that cause hair to fall are numerous.
- Hair loss can be the first sign of a disease. About 30 diseases, including thyroid disease and anemia, cause hair loss. By treating the disease, hair loss often can be stopped or reversed.
- Significant hair loss can occur after an illness. A major surgery, high fever, severe infection, or even the flu can cause hair loss. Your dermatologist may call this type of hair loss telogen (tee-lə-jen) effluvium (ih-flu-vee-uhm).
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause hair loss. This hair loss is often temporary, but it can cause great distress.
- Ringworm of the scalp: This disease is contagious and common in children. Without effective treatment, ringworm can cause balding.
- Trichotillomania (trick-uh-til-uh-mey-knee-uh): This medical disorder causes people to repeatedly pull out their own hair. They often feel a constant urge to pull out the hair on the scalp. Some sufferers say they feel compelled to pull out their eyelashes, nose hairs, eyebrows, and other hairs on their bodies.
Dieting and poor nutrition
- Some people see hair loss after losing more than 15 pounds. The hair loss often appears 3 to 6 months after losing the weight. This hair loss is common. The hair re-grows without help.
- Too much vitamin A can cause hair loss. People can get too much of this vitamin through vitamin supplements or medicines. Once the body stops getting too much vitamin A, normal hair growth resumes.
- When the body does not get enough protein, it rations the protein it does get. One way the body can ration protein is to slow hair growth. About 2 to 3 months after a person does not eat enough protein, you can see the hair loss. Eating more protein will stop the hair loss. Meats, eggs, and fish are good sources of protein. Vegetarians can get more protein by adding nuts, seeds, and beans to their diet.
- Not getting enough iron can lead to hair loss. Good vegetarian sources of iron are iron-fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach. Clams, oysters, and organ meats top the list of good animal sources of iron.
- When a person has an eating disorder, hair loss is common. Anorexia (not eating enough) and bulimia (vomiting after eating) can cause hair loss.
- These are but a few of the reason people lose hair. If you find you are losing more than 150 hairs per day, consult a dermatologist, then once you understand the reason you are losing hair, you can make intelligent decisions as to what you might want to do about it. We believe knowledge is the most important tool you can have to either accept, or fight. Today there are some effective treatments, and options to consider if hair loss is changing the value of your life. We are here to help.