The types of hair loss
- Androgenetic Alopecia (Male / Female Pattern Hair Loss)
- Alopecia Areata, Totalis or Universalis
- Improper Diet
- Chemotherapy Induced Hair Loss
- Radiation Induced Hair Loss
Cause of over 95% of all Hair Loss: Androgenetic alopecia is the scientific name for the genetic predisposition in both men and women for pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia is the cause of over 95% of all pattern hair loss, including baldness in men and thinning hair in women.
This occurs in somewhat predictable stages, and is relentlessly progressive. This means that those with pattern loss will, if they live long enough, eventually progress from the early stages of loss to the advanced stages. Studies have shown that pattern loss is increasingly evident and advanced as people age.
Androgenetic alopecia and the methods of slowing and reversing it will be the focus of this portion of the article. The following causes of thinning/baldness are much less common and less of a concern for most people. If you suffer from any of the conditions below, please consult a physician.
Patchy Hair Loss: Alopecia areata is an immune system disorder which causes hair follicles to stop producing hairs. Sudden loss of hair from small patches on the head are a common symptom. Advanced forms of the disorder include alopecia totalis, where all hair on the head is lost, and alopecia universalis, which results in the absence of all body hair.
Trichotillomania: This form of hair loss is caused by pulling out one’s own hair, usually without realizing it. To learn more about
Hair Pulling: Traction alopecia is the loss of hair from constant pulling, often the result of tightly braided hair styles.
Delayed Loss from Stress: Telogen effluvium is a slowing of new hair growth resulting from sudden severe stress, followed by a delayed shedding of hair. The stress induces a high proportion of follicles to enter the resting stage, and a few months after the stressful event, all of the resting follicles begin to shed hairs at about the same time.
Sudden Hair Loss: Anagen effluvium is the sudden loss of growing hairs as a result of chemicals or radiation. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy halt the growth phase of hair follicles, and result in the sudden shedding of hair. Some medications can also cause hair loss as a side effect.
Broken Hairs: Hair shaft breakage is when part of a hair breaks off, but the growing end remains in the follicle and continues to grow. Hair shaft breakage results in thinner hair, and can be caused by excessive styling, chemicals, sun, and chlorine in swimming pools.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies are rarely a cause of hair loss. In rare cases certain nutritional deficiencies can cause weak hair shafts that tend to break off.
Other Causes: Certain chronic illnesses can result in hair thinning and loss. Hormone-related irregularities can include hair loss among other symptoms. Skin Infections can result in hair loss. Trauma such as burns and injury to hair follicles, can cause permanent hair loss.
What else causes hair loss?
It is normal to lose between 50-100 hairs a day, this is part of the hair renewal process. However most people suffer from excessive hair loss at one time in their life.
There are many reasons for this including medication, radiation, chemotherapy, exposure to chemicals, hormonal and nutritional factors, thyroid disease, generalized or local skin disease, and stress. Fortunately, there are several treatments for hair loss, including several herbal hair loss prevention products.
Many of these causes are temporary and a few are permanent. These are some of the more common reasons for hair loss:
Since hormones both stimulate hair growth and cause hair loss, hormonal changes by far have the biggest impact on hair loss. These can affect both men and women in the following ways:
This is the most common cause of thinning and affects both men and women. Men generally have hair loss concentrated in a specific pattern from the front through to the crown. Women tend to have thinning throughout their head without being in any specific pattern. This type of hair loss is caused by the androgen DHT, or Dihydrotestosterone. Since everyone has DHT that is produced by their bodies and only some people suffer from hair loss there has to be another factor involved.
This other factor is having follicles that have a greater number of Androgen receptors for the DHT to attach to. This is the component that is inherited through the genes. To date the most effective preventative treatments are anti androgens, drugs that prevent the creation of DHT. In the future gene therapy will one day be able to alter the genes to prevent the follicles from being affected by DHT.
2. Disease or illness
Since the follicle is a very sensitive it does respond to imbalances in the body. Most hair loss causes by disease or illness is temporary and resolves itself after the body has returned to a healthy condition. Some of the disease or illness related causes for hair loss include:
High fever, severe infection, severe flu: Sometimes one to three months after a high fever, severe infection or flu, a person may experience hair loss, this is usually temporary and corrects itself.
Thyroid disease: Both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. Thyroid disease can be diagnosed by your physician with laboratory tests. Hair loss associated with thyroid disease can be reversed with proper treatment.
Deficient diet: Some people who go on low protein diets, or have severely abnormal eating habits, may develop protein malnutrition. To help save protein the body shifts growing hair into the resting phase. If this happens massive amounts of hair shedding can occur two to three months later.
A sign of this is if the hair can be pulled out by the roots fairly easily. This condition can be reversed and prevented by eating the proper amount of protein. Its very important when dieting to maintain an adequate protein intake.
Medications: Some prescription drugs may cause temporary hair shedding in a small percentage of people. Examples of such drugs include some of the medicines used for the following: gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, or blood thinner. High doses of vitamin A may also cause hair shedding.
Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation treatment will cause hair loss because it stops hair cells from dividing. Hairs become thin and break off as they exit the scalp. This occurs one to three weeks after the treatment. Patients can lose up to 90 percent of their scalp hair. The hair will regrow after treatment ends and patients may want to get wigs before treatment. There are some drugs in development to help prevent this hair loss from occurring.
Low serum iron: Iron deficiency occasionally produces hair loss. Some people don’t have enough iron in their diets or may not fully absorb iron in their diets. Women who have heavy menstrual periods may develop iron deficiency. Low iron can be detected by laboratory tests and can be corrected by taking iron pills.
Major surgery/chronic illness: Anyone who has a major operation – a tremendous shock to the system – may notice increased hair shedding within one to three months afterwards. The condition reverses itself within a few months but people who have a severe chronic illness may shed hair indefinitely. A relatively unknown fact is that hair transplantation surgery can actually cause additional hair loss or “shock fallout”. Hairs lost from shock fallout usually don’t regrow.
Alopecia Areata: This type of hair loss is believed to be caused by the immune system reacting to hair follicles as if they were antibodies and shutting them down. The hair loss is usually limited to a coin sized area and all the hair in the area is lost leaving a totally smooth round patch. In a more severe rarer condition called Alopecia Totalis, all hair on the entire body is lost, including the eyelashes. Treatments include topical medications, a special kind of light treatment, or in some cases drugs.
Fungus Infection (Ringworm) of the scalp: Caused by a fungus infection, ringworm (which has nothing to do with worms) begins with small patches of scaling that can spread and result in broken hair, redness, swelling, and even oozing. This contagious disease is most common in children and oral medication will cure it.
Stress: Stress can cause hair loss is some people. Usually it occurs 3 months after the stressful event has occured and it may take 3 months after the stress period has ended for the hair growth to resume. In most cases it is temporary if the person is not predisposed to genetic or Androgenic Alopecia, if they are stress may trigger the onset of genetic hair loss or may worsen existing Androgenic hair loss.
3. Mechanical damage
Damage to the hair can be self inflicted either by intentional or unintentional means. Some people going through stress continuously pull at their hair until it comes out. Styling hair by bleaching, braiding and straightening can also cause damage and results in hair being lost. Fortunately, several all-natural herbal hair loss remedies exist to help fight against the effects of mechanical hair damage. Some of the types of mechanical damage include:
Trichotillomania or Hair Pulling: Some children and less often adults play with their hair by pulling on it or twisting it. This can be part of a behavioral problem or a bad habit that is often done unconsciously. If the behavior is not stopped permanent hair loss can result from the constant stress on the hair. Its best to seek the help of a mental health professional to solve this problem.
Hair Styling Treatments: Many people change the appearance of their hair by using chemical treatments like dyes, tints, bleaches, straighteners, relaxers and permanent waves. If correctly done and done using reputable products, its rare to have any damage. However, hair can become weak and break if any of these chemicals are used too often.
Hair can also break if the solution is left on too long, if two procedures are done on the same day, or if bleach is applied to previously bleached hair. Some chemical relaxers do contain powerful chemicals and there have been instances of people get chemical burns from these products resulting in permanent hair loss. Only go to qualified hair stylists and if doing it yourself make sure you only use reputable products and follow the product directions.
Hair Braids/Weaves: Many black women and some black men braid their hair or wear hair weaves. Under normal conditions these cause no problems. However if the weave is attached too tight or the braids are wrapped too tight, they put a constant strain on the hair follicle. If this is done for an extended period of time permanent hair loss can result. This is known as Traction Alopecia and is fairly common among people who braid or weave their hair.
Make sure the person applying the braids or weave is qualified to do so and don’t wear braids or weaves continuously for extended periods of time.