Hair loss can be caused by a number of different factors, including, but not limited to:
Hair loss or baldness is a genetic trait, but unlike what you may have been told, it’s not necessarily passed down from your maternal grandfather. Medical science has come to learn that hair loss genes are actually passed down from both sides of the family, and they affect hair loss in both men and women. Hair loss genes may also skip generations and are utterly random in terms of which siblings (male or female) they will affect. The cause of hair loss for one family member may differ from that of another.
It’s important to understand the cause of your hair loss if you want to do something about it.
The leading cause of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia. This occurs in men whose hair follicles are sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Over time, DHT-sensitive hair (usually found on the top and front of the head) becomes weaker and finer and eventually stops growing. Most men have DHT-resistant, healthy hair follicles around the sides and back of their head. This is why so many men have a horseshoe pattern on their head.
The good news is that male pattern baldness is treatable with a variety of solutions depending on the stage of your hair loss.
Hair loss in women can be related to genetics, hormones and age. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern hair loss, is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Hair loss in women may be caused by a serious medical condition that needs proper attention and treatment as early as possible. The hair loss patterns in women usually differ from those in men.
OTHER CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
This is most commonly found in women wearing ponytails, tight braids or any hairstyles that typically pull on hair with excessive force. In addition, rigorous brushing, heat styling and rough scalp massage can damage the cuticle, the hard outer casing of the hair. This causes individual strands to become weak and break off, reducing overall hair volume.
This is the loss of hair caused by compulsive pulling and bending of the hairs. Due to the constant extraction of the hair roots, permanent hair loss can occur. This disorder tends to begin around the onset of puberty and usually continues through adulthood.
This is an autoimmune disorder that is also known as “spot baldness” and can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (alopecia areata monolocularis) to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis), or to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis). Although it is thought to be caused by hair follicles becoming dormant, what triggers alopecia areata is not exactly known. In most cases, the condition corrects itself.
This is a diverse group of rare disorders that destroy the hair follicle, replace it with scar tissue and cause permanent hair loss. The hair loss may be accompanied by severe itching, pain and burning, and may progress rapidly. In other cases, the hair loss is gradual, has no symptoms and is unnoticed for long periods. It is also sometimes known as scarring alopecia and can occur in otherwise healthy men and women of all ages.
An underactive thyroid and the side effects of its related medications has been found to cause hair loss, typically frontal, which is particularly associated with thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (also seen with syphilis). Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can also cause hair loss, although it is parietal rather than frontal.
Traumas such as major surgery, poisoning and severe stress may cause a hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium, in which a large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing shedding and subsequent thinning hair in men and women alike. The condition also presents as a side effect of chemotherapy. While targeting dividing cancer cells, this treatment also affects hair’s growth phase, with the result that almost 90% of hairs fall out soon after chemotherapy starts.
Temporary or permanent hair loss can also be caused by several medications, including those for blood pressure problems, diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol. Any medications that affect the body’s hormone balance can have a pronounced effect; these include hormone replacement therapy, steroids and some acne medications.
Note: Before starting on any alopecia treatment regimen, it is strongly recommended that one seek a medical diagnosis of the type of alopecia condition he or she is suffering from. Knowing the condition one is treating ensures the highest possibility of success with the appropriate treatment.