What is Hair Loss
Hair loss, or Alopecia, refers to the condition in which a person experiences a significant reduction in hair growth or loss of hair from certain areas of the body. It can affect both men and women, and its severity can vary widely from mild thinning to complete baldness.
It's normal to lose a certain amount of hair every day. The normal amount of hair we loss per day is usually around 50 to 100 strands. This is just a part of the growth cycle and is essential for new hairs to grow and replace dead cells.
However, if you feel that you are losing more than 50 to 100 normal hair, you may be experiencing hair loss. In this article, we'll go into the symptoms and most common types of hair loss and what you can do about it.
Symptoms of Hair Loss
Recognizing the various symptoms of hair loss is crucial because it can manifest differently for everyone and plays an important role in early detection. Detecting hair loss in its early stages is vital, as it enables you to seek early treatment, preventing further loss of hair and increasing the effectiveness of the available hair loss treatment.
The most common signs of hair loss include:
Gradual thinning hair on top of the head
Gradual thinning on top of the head is a common symptom of hair loss in both men and women. It can be hard to notice because it isn't a regularly visible part of oneself. This symptom can be characterized by a significant amount of scalp showing at the top of the head and thicker hair in other areas. In men, it often starts with a receding hairline, followed by thinning at the crown. For women, the thinning usually occurs on the top and front of the scalp. Another condition related to this symptom is frontal fibrosing alopecia, which causes progressive hairline recession and scarring on the forehead.
Sudden loss of hair
Sudden loss of hair can be very jarring and alarming. This is when you can pull out large chunks of hair and experience significant hair falling out in just a short period. This usually happens to extremely damaged hair from bleaching and other chemical processes, or a sign of an underlying health issue or side effects of certain medications and treatments.
Circular bald spots on head
Circular bald spots on the head are characterized by smooth and round patches of baldness on the scalp.
This can happen gradually if hair follicles are dormant in a certain area which prevents new hair from growing. Unlike sudden hair loss, you can detect if you are starting to have bald patches once you notice significant thinning hair and scalp showing in certain areas before they go completely bald.
Thinning of hair all over the scalp
Thinning hair all over the scalp is often characterized by a decrease in hair density and overall volume. It might be hard to detect because it happens gradually and all over the head, which means that you will only notice when a significant amount of hair has already fallen out, and you lose hair thickness.
Patches of scaling all over the scalp
Scalp conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis can result in patches of scaling or rough skin on your scalp. This may be what is causing your hair loss. These conditions often cause redness, itching, and flaking of the scalp, leading to hair thinning or loss in the affected areas.
Loss of hair all over the body
In rare cases, loss of hair can happen all over the body, which usually is a sign of an underlying medical condition. This means that the body is targeting hair follicles, losing hair all over and not just the head. This is an indication of an autoimmune disease.
Common Types of Hair Loss
Female Pattern Hair loss
Male Pattern Hair loss
Some of the most common types and conditions of hair loss include:
Androgenetic Alopecia (Male or Female Pattern Baldness)
Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, is the most common type of hair loss. It is characterized by a progressive thinning of the hair in specific areas, such as the crown and temples in men, a receding hairline, or overall thinning in women. Hormonal factors, genetic predisposition, and age contribute to this condition, leading to the miniaturization of hair follicles over time.
Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss caused by a disruption in the hair growth cycle. It is often triggered by physical or emotional stress, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, certain medications, or significant life events. With telogen effluvium, a large number of hair follicles enter the resting phase (telogen) prematurely, resulting in noticeable shedding of hair several months later.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that results in patches of hair loss. This type of hair loss is where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing sudden baldness in small, round patches on the scalp or other body areas. In some cases, it can progress to total hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete loss of body hair (alopecia universalis). Although the exact cause is unknown, immune system abnormalities and genetics are believed to play a role.
Traction alopecia is caused by excessive tension or pulling on the hair. It is commonly seen in individuals who frequently wear tight hairstyles such as ponytails, braids, or extensions. Prolonged and repeated pulling can damage the hair follicles, leading to gradual hair thinning, particularly around the hairline or areas where tension is applied.
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder characterized by the irresistible urge to pull out one's hair. It is often a way of coping with stress, anxiety, or other emotional distress. Hair pulling can result in irregular or patchy hair loss, with noticeable areas of broken or shorter hair. Treatment involves a combination of therapy and behavioral interventions.
Anagen effluvium and Medication-Induced Hair Loss
Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, anticoagulants, antidepressants, and hormonal medications, can cause hair loss as a side effect. The extent and pattern of hair loss vary depending on the medication and individual response. In most cases, hair regrowth resumes once the medication is discontinued or the treatment is completed.
What Causes Hair Loss
The causes of hair loss can differ among individuals. You can determine what the cause is by assessing your lifestyle and symptoms. For example, do you do a lot of chemical processing? Does baldness or thin hair run in your family? What does your diet and overall health look like? Answering these questions may help you find a solution for your hair loss. The main causes of hair loss include:
Genetics plays a huge part in hair loss in both men and women, but especially in men. Male pattern baldness is a genetic trait passed down through generations. Hereditary hair loss is difficult to combat, but there are advancements that can help prevent and solve this problem.
Hormonal changes or imbalances can cause hair loss, more commonly in women. This usually happens during pregnancy, after giving birth, menopause, or hormonal issues like PCOS.
The majority of hair's nutrition is derived from your diet, emphasizing the crucial role of proper nutrition. If your diet lacks certain essential nutrients, it can lead to hair loss and hinder healthy hair growth. Certain vitamin deficiency, in particular, can significantly affect the overall health of your hair.
Another cause of hair loss is damage to the hair itself. Excessive heat styling, chemical treatments (such as perming or straightening), overuse of harsh hair products, and improper hair care practices can lead to hair damage and breakage.
You may be unknowingly using a hair product that contains harmful ingredients like sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, and more. These can gradually affect your hair over time. When the hair becomes weakened and fragile, it is more prone to hair falls or breaking off, resulting in noticeable hair loss.
Childbirth, Stressful Events, and Illness
The body deals with stress in a multitude of ways. One of the most common ways it can manifest is temporary hair loss or even permanent hair loss. Stressful events on the body, like childbirth, exhaustion, major illnesses, medical conditions, and more, can cause significant thinning and hair fall.
What To Do About Hair Loss
When experiencing hair loss, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist specializing in hair disorders. They can evaluate the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include:
Hair growth products:
Various over-the-counter products are available in the form of anti-hair loss shampoos and conditioners, serums, or supplements. These products contain ingredients like biotin, vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts such as castor oil, almond oil, and Artemesia argyi extract that stimulate hair growth, strengthen the strands, and prevent hair fall. Some individuals find them helpful in conjunction with other treatments.
There are medical treatments and procedures used to treat common hair loss conditions. This includes prescription medications, hair transplants, and Laser therapy.
Address the problem
It's crucial to address any underlying issue causing your hair loss. This goes for those suffering from hormonal issues, vitamin deficiencies, medical conditions, and other health issues.
In addition to specific treatments, adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, maintaining a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, and avoiding harsh hair treatments can contribute to overall hair health and promote hair growth.
Hair loss can have multiple symptoms and causes, and dealing with it can be a frustrating experience because hair is such a big part of how we present ourselves and can significantly impact our self-esteem and quality of life. If you're struggling with hair loss, know that you are not alone, and there are definitely more solutions out there because of scientific and medical evolutions. This guide can be a starting point for you to know how to address your particular hair loss.