Hair loss is a very common problem. According to statistics, it affects around 50% of men over 50 years old. The same percentage of women over 65 years old also suffer from alopecia. Suffice it to say, most people are going to experience hair loss at some point in their life.
Sometimes, the hair loss happens suddenly with bald patches appearing on the scalp followed by the loss of most or all of the hair. However, in most cases, the process is gradual and the hairline recession or hair thinning is rarely noticeable at the early stages.
Hair loss may be due to a disruption in the normal hair growth cycle, particularly when the hair prematurely enters the telogen stage (resting phase). Alopecia may also happen because the hair follicles become damaged. They can also become scarred, resulting in permanent hair loss.
Admittedly, the underlying reason why hair comes off, especially in conditions like alopecia areata and telogen effluvium, is not yet fully understood. What experts agree on is that there are certain factors which can bring about hair loss. Below are some of the possible alopecia causes or triggers:
Genetics: One of the leading causes of hair loss is androgenic alopecia or pattern baldness. This condition is hereditary. Hence, if your parents or close relatives experienced male or female pattern baldness, then you are most probably going to have this type of alopecia, too. The likelihood of having or suffering from hereditary hair loss increases as you become older. In men, its onset may take place as early as the teenage years, but it usually starts somewhere between the mid-20s to the mid-30s. In women, it starts later at around the age of 40. This type of alopecia progresses slowly and in predictable patterns.
Hormones: Hair loss may also occur because of hormonal changes. In women, life events like pregnancy and childbirth cause changes in hormone levels which can bring about hair loss. This explains why oftentimes, after giving birth, women experience excessive hair shedding. Fortunately, hair loss due to hormonal changes are usually reversible.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Certain nutrients are essential for the hair to grow and stay strong This is why nutritional deficiencies can drastically affect hair health. For example, studies have shown that low protein diets trigger excessive hair shedding. Similarly, low intakes of zinc, vitamin B-12 and iron also contribute to hair loss.
Medical Conditions: Underlying medical conditions can trigger hair loss. Illnesses like thyroid disorders (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) result in hormonal imbalances which can cause too much hair fall. Ringworm, psoriasis and other skin or scalp problems may also lead to alopecia. Other widely known medical problems that cause hair loss include autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata and lupus as well as mental conditions like trichotillomania.
Hairstyles and Hair Treatments: Always wearing tight hairstyles such as buns, pigtails and braids can cause a hair loss condition called traction alopecia. The gentle but repeated pulling of the hair can damage the follicles and hamper hair growth. When not addressed immediately, the follicles can become scarred and stop producing hair. Similarly, frequent hair treatments and excessive use of hair products and heating tools like curling iron can drastically impact the health of the follicles.
Stress: Physical stress is one of the major causes of telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition. Suffering from high fever, undergoing surgery and giving birth may cause undue stress to the body and in turn trigger diffused hair thinning. It is also believed that extreme anxiety and mental stress can have the same effect. In this case, the shedding occurs months after the physical or emotional shock is experienced. Hair loss due to physical and psychological stress is not permanent. Once the trigger is removed, the hair growth cycle goes back to normal.
Medicines: Alopecia may occur as a side effect of certain medications such as those used to treat gout, heart ailments and cancer. Just like in telogen effluvium, hair loss of this type is only temporary.
To learn more about alopecia causes, talk to our dermatologist or trichologist! Our hair and scalp specialists are highly qualified and experienced in handling hair loss problems. Call us at +353 (0)1 6793618 now!