Hair loss can affect a person at any age. In fact, even a child can suffer hair loss problem. The most common cause of hair loss is male pattern baldness which is seen in men. It generally affects men in their thirties but it can affect a man even at an earlier age. There are many causes of hair loss. In fact, there are more than 550 reasons for hair loss. Most of the causes are related to medical issues. The problem of hair loss can be treated only when the root cause of the hair loss is diagnosed correctly. Each type of hair loss requires a different line of treatment.
Some amount of hair loss is natural. About 50-100 hair strands are lost every day. The hairs that scalp sheds can be noticed during bathing, shampooing, brushing and styling. This much hair loss is natural because the lost hair is replaced naturally. The new hair grows in place of the lost hair. The problem arises when the loss rate is higher than the replacement rate. There can be many causes of hair loss. Some causes are same for both men and women. Some types of hair loss affect only men while some causes are specific to women only.
Proper diagnosis can help find the real reason behind the hair loss. It requires careful inspection of the scalp and hair. Information about the patient’s medical history, dietary habit and lifestyle are checked by the doctor. Some tests may be needed if the real reason for hair loss cannot be ascertained with simple visual inspection and checking of medical record. Some causes are well known and do not require any diagnosis. For example, cancer patients are known to lose hair due to extreme effects of chemotherapy treatment.
The thinning of hair is generally a slow process but in some people it occurs in a very short period of time. This type of rapid loss is commonly related to medical problems but some individuals experience fast hair loss due to emotional shock, trauma or extreme stress. In some medical conditions, the patient regains the hair after the powerful medicines are discontinued. In other patients, it can be an irreversible effect. It all depends on the type of disease, type of treatment, and the person’s immunity power to cope with the effects of ailment and medication.
Most people experience hair loss due to genetics. The hereditary baldness affects mostly men but a small number of women also experience this problem. It is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Baldness in men is generally associated with male pattern baldness which is also known as androgenic alopecia. A person can inherit it from either father or mother side. It is not necessary that the patient’s father or mother suffers from hair loss problem.
Individuals suffering from nutritional deficiency suffer hair loss. The hair needs proper nutrition and nourishment. Lack of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals can cause baldness. A person suffering malnutrition will experience this problem.
There are various medical causes of hair loss. Thyroid disease can cause loss of hair. The thyroid gland in the human body secretes some essential hormones like thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones are needed for proper development and growth of the body. Low or excess secretion of these hormones can cause various medical complications including loss of hair. An autoimmune disease like alopecia areta causes patchy hair loss. In this condition, the immune system of the body attacks its own healthy hair follicles. Pituitary hormonal disorders can be a cause of hair loss. In most of these conditions, the hair grows back after treating the underlying problem.
Chronic medical conditions like diabetes can lead to loss of hair. Diabetes affects circulatory system of the body. The scalp suffers from poor blood circulation. The patient will see hair loss when the hair follicles do not receive proper nutrients and oxygen. Some types of scalp infections damage hair follicles. If ringworm invades the skin of the scalp, it will cause scaly patches. The hair grows back when this infection has been treated successfully. The skin infection of the scalp is not limited to ringworm. Other skin problems like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis can also be the reason. These skin problems affect other parts of the body as well but there are specific scalp fungal infections that affect only the scalp area. Folliculitis is a local inflammatory condition of hair follicles. It can permanently damage the hair follicles if not treated in time.
Treatments using radiotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are known causes of hair loss. Many people experience hair loss after undergoing surgery. The loss of hair may not occur immediately after the surgery. It can take 2-3 months for the effects to appear. In some cases, cessation of medication can cause hair loss. During the treatment phase, inclusion of hormonal medication leads to growth of extra hairs. Once the medication is stopped, the body starts shedding those extra hairs. It goes back to normal cycle of hair growth and loss.
Pregnancy is one of the major causes of hair loss in women. Pregnant women are vulnerable to deficiency of different types of minerals. Other reasons for hair loss in women can include some types of gynecological and obstetric conditions, such as ovarian tumors. Some complications occur in the postmenopausal and post-partum phases.
Aging is one of the most well known causes of hair loss. As a person ages, the body loses its capacity to produce sufficient amount of hormones responsible for body growth and development. Lack of these hormones causes fall in hair volume. Even when there are no known medical problems, a person in old age will experience thinning, receding and losing of hair. The effect is more pronounced in men but women also experience thinning of hair due to aging.
Even excessive hair beauty treatments and improper styling can be causes of hair loss. Some types of chemicals used in shampoos, conditioners, hair coloring agents and styling gels damage hair. Excessive hair styling with irons and dryers can weaken hair. A hair style where the hair is pulled tightly and kept tight at all times can lead to traction alopecia. Hair follicles inflammation is caused by hot oil treatments.
If hair loss symptoms are noticed, it is important to seek medical advice as early as possible. Early treatment is helpful in treating some types of hair loss problems. Some conditions do not require any treatment. New hairs in place of lost ones grow back after the treatment is over, ailment is under control or the medication has been discontinued. Proper care and maintenance as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle is necessary to keep hair in good condition and avoid hair loss problem.