What causes hair loss?
This is a somewhat triggering question. The kind of question which could invite all manner of response: an old wives’ tale, home-remedy-style advice, ancestral prophesising, self-cyber-diagnosis and our favourite, celebrity hearsay. It’s a bit like at school when you were told you couldn’t stand on the desk/play on the grass/have any more cornflake tart because your hair/teeth/nails/eyes would fall out. ‘Really? But Miss…? Why? The response to which was irritatingly nothing but a silent escort to the headmaster’s office.
But really, what causes hair loss? Is there anything that can be done? What causes the single most distressing physical issue for men (and increasingly women) in the UK between the ages of 25 and 60? Rated more distressing than divorce or erectile dysfunction? Well, there is more than one reason; in fact there are five major reasons.
5 well-known reasons why you might be losing your hair
Male pattern balding or female pattern hair loss
MPB or FPB is still the most active cause of hair loss in men and women between the ages of 25 and 60. Many sufferers will already be uncomfortably aware of their predisposition to balding, having witnessed parents or relatives with the issue, however sometimes hair loss may be still be genetic even in cases where there is no immediate family connection.
Male pattern balding is characterised either by a gradual thinning of the hair on the crown area, which may reach round to the temples, or by a receding hairline on the forehead which eventually reaches further round posteriorly. There is no known ‘cure’ for MPB however hair loss products may be useful in slowing the hair loss and creating the appearance of thicker hair where thinning has occurred.
Post childbirth or post trauma hair loss
For women, hair loss often occurs during the post-natal period. During pregnancy, a woman’s hair will grow thicker to ensure warmth in a key area and protection of the scalp. When this function is no longer needed, the body will naturally start to shed the excess hair. This may seem like undue hair loss and can be alarming however post-natal women should lose no more than they had before pregnancy. If hair loss continues there may therefore be another reason, guidance for which can be sought through a GP. If a patient has undergone major surgery or a trauma such as a car crash, they may also experience diffuse hair loss. Both types of this hair loss are called tellogen effluvium.
Medical or medication-induced hair loss
There are a wide range of medical circumstances which might manifest hair loss, either short or long term. Medication side-effects are probably the most thought of, and patients who are losing hair more than normal (we may lose up to 100 scalp hairs everyday) may need to consult their GP on their prescribed medication and its effects. The medications most known to cause hair loss are anticoagulants, gout medications, Beta blockers, male and female hormone treatments and some antidepressants.
If hair loss occurs due to heavy medical procedure such as chemotherapy, most patients will see a return to normal hair growth during remission however if this is not the case they may be elligible for hair restoration.
Low health or happiness
There are certainly some cod-medical reasons for hair loss being bandied about online however the results of studies now place a much higher emphasis on the impact of poor general health and high stress levels on hair growth. Needless to say, although we all of us ignore it from time to time, our diet is the source of all the essential nutrients for the body’s healthy tissues, including those of hair, skin and nails. A diet low in protein and essential fats or a regime missing adequate and appropriate fluids (Chardonnay doesn’t have much water in it, alas) could be doing more to our bodies than depriving them of energy.
On the other hand, there’s hair loss due to stress. The idea of ‘tearing your hair out’ is hopefully for most us only a watercooler turn of phrase but for some it may mean serious hair loss over periods of time. Alopecia areata manifests patchy hair loss from one or more areas of the scalp in both men and women. This hair loss may progress to larger areas of baldness and long-term hair loss if stressful conditions are not addressed, not to mention further potential physical ailment. Trichotillomania is the condition whereby the sufferer complulsively pulls their hair out in strands or chunks which may lead to permanent damage to the scalp’s hair follicles.
Unexplained hair loss
In most cases the cause of hair loss can be identified as pertaining to one of the above factors. However, it’s more than essential to have a clinical assessment. Your GP should be able to determine any medical factors to consider but you may also seek the advice of a qualified, skilled trichologist or hair restoration specialist. With their experience in treating hair loss, you’ll not only get a definitive assessment but also an unbiased guide to both coping with hair loss and what to do about hair restoration or hair care in the meantime.