The most common causes of hair loss, explained
When you Google “hair loss,” you’ll encounter a staggering 1.4 million results. This abundance of information serves as a reminder that you’re not alone in facing this concern. Hair loss affects nearly 50 percent of women and 80 percent of men during their lifetimes, as reported by NYU Langone. The causes of hair loss in women are diverse and complex, even encompassing seemingly harmless practices like wearing high ponytails akin to Ariana Grande’s style. However, seeking medical guidance and addressing the underlying cause is often necessary when experiencing hair loss.
Before panicking about hair loss, it’s essential to understand that losing between 80 to 100 strands of hair daily is normal, according to dermatologist Yoram Harth, founder of MDHair, a medical-grade hair loss treatment center. On average, we have about 100,000 hair follicles, with 80 to 90 percent actively growing hair and 10 to 15 percent in a resting phase that eventually falls out and gets replaced by new hair. So, if you’re only mildly concerned about the amount of hair you’re shedding while brushing, it might not be alopecia, but rather regular shedding. Alopecia occurs when the rate of shedding exceeds the rate of hair growth.
Diagnosing and understanding alopecia, as well as its specific type, often requires the expertise of a medical professional. If you suspect you’re losing more than the typical 100 hairs per day, consider booking an appointment with your primary care provider, a trichologist (a scalp/hair health specialist), or a dermatologist.
Hair loss is a complex topic, and seeking help from a healthcare professional is crucial in diagnosing and treating the specific type of alopecia affecting you. Rather than opting for unapproved creams and gels, addressing the root cause of hair loss is always better, as stated by Dr. Harth. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating hair loss, and consulting a medical professional is essential to explore suitable options.
Trichologist William Gaunitz discuss common causes of hair loss in women, symptoms, and potential treatment plans to initiate effective management.
Hereditary or Androgenetic Hair Loss:
This type of hair loss is the most common and progresses with age. Male hormones, present in both men and women, cause hair in certain scalp areas to become smaller, thinner, and eventually invisible (baldness). Approximately 30 million women in the U.S. experience androgenetic hair loss, which primarily affects the top of the head. Treatment involves reducing the impact of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone formed from testosterone, on the hair follicles.
Termed “nutritional alopecia” by Gaunitz, this cause of hair loss is prevalent. Hair follicles require various essential nutrients, such as vitamin D3, zinc, folate, B12, and ferritin, to grow healthy hair. A blood work panel can determine if your vitamin D3 and iron levels are sufficient.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both endocrine disorders, can lead to diffuse hair loss, affecting hair across the scalp. Collaborate with an endocrinologist for proper diagnosis and treatment, which may include the use of levothyroxine to address hypothyroidism.
Telogen effluvium is sudden hair thinning resulting from physical or emotional stressors like COVID-19, crash diets, or pregnancy. Hair loss may not occur immediately but within a few months after a stressful event. Thankfully, this type of hair loss is usually temporary, and the hair should regain thickness in six to nine months.
Anagen effluvium is a form of hair loss that affects the entire body and is caused by chemotherapy, a medical treatment that specifically targets fast-growing cells, including cancer cells.. Hair typically starts to regrow three months after completing chemotherapy.
Lupus erythematosus and alopecia areata are autoimmune conditions that can cause hair loss. Lupus erythematosus involves the immune system attacking its own tissues, while alopecia areata leads to hair loss in round bald spots or diffuse patterns. Consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Scalp Infections and Diseases
Psoriasis and other scalp diseases can cause temporary hair loss. Scalp infections like ringworm and shingles may also result in hair loss if left untreated. Seek medical treatment promptly for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.
Tight hairstyles like ponytails, braids, and extensions can cause hair loss on the frontal hairline, known as traction alopecia. Avoiding tight hairstyles and minimizing strain on the hair can reverse the condition if caught early. Consult a dermatologist or trichologist for further guidance.
Remember that understanding the cause of your hair loss requires professional evaluation. By working with a medical expert, you can determine the best course of action and develop a personalized treatment plan.
FAQ – Hair Loss: Causes, Treatments, and Care
Q1: What are the common causes of hair loss in women?
A: Hair loss in women can be caused by various factors such as hereditary or female pattern baldness, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders, extreme stress, certain medications, autoimmune diseases, scalp infections, and excessive use of tight hairstyles.
Q2: How can I treat hair loss?
A: Treatment for hair loss depends on the underlying cause. It is recommended to seek medical guidance from a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or trichologist. They can provide personalized treatment plans, which may include medications, topical solutions, dietary changes, supplements, or hair restoration procedures.
Q3: Is it normal to lose hair every day?
A: Yes, it is normal to lose between 80 and 100 strands of hair every day as part of the hair growth cycle. Hair follicles go through a resting phase, during which old hair falls out and is replaced by new hair. Excessive hair loss beyond this range may indicate a problem that requires attention.
Q4: What is female pattern hair loss?
A: Female pattern hair loss refers to the gradual thinning of hair on the top of the head, typically caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. It is similar to male pattern baldness but manifests differently in women.
Q5: Are there effective treatments for female pattern hair loss?
A: Yes, there are treatments available for female pattern hair loss, including topical medications, oral medications, and low-level laser therapy. These treatments aim to slow down the progression of hair loss, stimulate new hair growth, and improve the overall appearance of the hair.
Q6: How can I promote new hair growth and maintain healthy hair?
A: To support healthy hair growth, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet, ensure proper nutrition, practice good hair care habits, avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments, and manage stress levels. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized recommendations.
Q7: How can I determine the root cause of my hair loss?
A: Identifying the underlying cause of hair loss requires a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. It is recommended to consult with a doctor, dermatologist, or trichologist who can conduct examinations, review medical history, and perform tests to diagnose the specific type and cause of hair loss.
Q8: Can tight hairstyles cause hair loss?
A: Yes, tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, braids, and hair extensions, can contribute to a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. Constant tension on the hair follicles can lead to hair breakage, thinning, and even permanent hair loss. It is advisable to avoid excessive pulling or tension on the hair.
Q9: Are there any quick solutions or “magic bullets” for treating hair loss?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all solution or magic bullet for treating hair loss. Each individual’s case is unique, and the most effective approach involves identifying and addressing the specific underlying cause of hair loss. Consultation with a healthcare professional is crucial for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Q10: How can I prevent further hair loss and maintain a healthy scalp and hair?
A: To prevent further hair loss and promote a healthy scalp and hair, it is important to follow a consistent hair care routine, practice gentle handling of hair, avoid harsh chemicals and heat styling tools, protect hair from excessive sun exposure, maintain a balanced diet, and manage stress levels effectively.