Hair loss can be a temporary or permanent problem whether it occurs on scalp, beard, eyebrows, hands or legs. Apparently, these losing itself is not life-threatening but can occur in healthy individuals. This post sets forth causes of the problem. What more? Learn more about why hair falls out plus on how certain illness and health problems can gradually lead to this problem.
Before looking into causes, read through to get a grip on basics and important medical terms used together.
When is it normal?
If you notice clumps of countable strands falling out in the shower, that is normal. Men and women alike about hair 100 strands daily. Moreover, this number can slightly increase if you are used to shampooing or accessories like bands and pins. And that should not be at least a reason to raise concern or worry.
When is it abnormal?
Whether the specific cause is permanent or temporary, males and females can undergo excessive loss of hair in more or less similar patterns. Both sexes can experience falling out, thinning or patches being left out on scalp, chest, the beard, eyebrows or lashes, hands, legs, on pubis etc.
Losing it abnormally or excessively can be hereditary or caused by genetic reasons or as a result of using hair products.
Important information and definitions
Here are some other key points or descriptions that you need to know.
- Alopecia generally refers to excessive loss or abnormal falling out of hair
- Alopecia areata is total loss characterized by round or oval patches on scalp and other areas of hair growth including the beard (alopecia barbae) and eyebrows
- Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis – both forms of alopecia areata – result to hairless across and entire scalp respectively
- Scarring alopecia results in scar tissue or destruction of follicles but is rare.
- Other forms of alopecia areata are diffuse alopecia areata and ophiasis alopecia
- Androgenetic alopecia also termed as pattern alopecia is the common hereditary loss affecting males and females of all ages
- Hair thinning as type of loss causes the shafts to become abnormally finer hence losing its typical quality
While male pattern (baldness) is signaled with a progressive receding hairline and a possible thinning, typical female pattern starts with thinning across the central area of your head
Going on, a temporary problem can appear to be permanent if incorrectly diagnosed, whereby women among the majority affected suffer more.
Psychological experiences due to losing hair can be detrimental just like a serious disease can cause damage to your body organs.
Males and females begin losing hair as early as 20 or 30 years. Typically, a post-menopause female loss is more noticeable.
You may begin to start losing your eyelashes if you have eye dermatitis or Demodex folliculorum or eyelash mites, especially with an infestation.
Why does it occur – causes
Below are causes or reasons why it occurs to men and women.
To begin, statistics reveal that hereditary-pattern is the widespread cause. This pattern is usually attributed to aging under the influence of genes and sometimes hormones.
When these factors combine (i.e. genes and hormones), “the normal cycle of hair growth changes, resulting in shorter, thinner or “miniaturized” hair.” [www.health.harvard.edu]
One can inherit gene responsible for thinning from either of your parents.
A typical symptom of this pattern is progressive thinning out of hair and eventually loss. In men, the symptom shows up at the temple and crown along the forehead. As the condition develops, some men remain with some on either side of head and back of their scalp.
In women, there is no receding hairline as it is the case in men. Even though, ones lost on top of the head is somewhat of a significant effect. This would result in an-X-mas tree depiction whereby the lower areas of the head is covered with more hair. Therefore, the scalp is better hidden.
Is it caused by thyroid disease?
What is the connection between thyroid disease and hair loss? A thyroid disease means that your thyroid hormone level drops or rises. This interferes with natural growth and resting cycles of hair. If there are few strands that grow, thinning or balding can occur.
According to British Thyroid Foundation, severe prolonged hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism possible cause.
In addition to thinning or loss, other symptoms of thyroid disease include:
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Dryness of skin or hair
- Change in mood such as anxiety
- Memory problems
- Lack of concentration
Diabetes and loss of hair
How does diabetes affect your hair growth?
There are 2 types – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2. In fact, more than 80 percent of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes.
Both types of diabetes can interrupt growth cycle causing thinning. According to Healthline, people with diabetes itself can experience some hair strands falling off and the same individuals are more likely to get Alopecia areata.
Keep in mind that thinning or loss are not the only indication to show you may be having diabetes.
Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder)
Trichotillomania is a medical disorder whereby victims are made to pull out hair repeatedly especially that on the scalp, face – eyebrows, eyelashes – or the pubic area. The disorder may run in families but those with compulsive disorders are at risk. This type of pulling is not one’s will, which means that victims are under certain irresistible urge.
Anxiety, depression, and stress can sometimes cause trichotillomania. The problem can start from childhood life.
Some people really pull out single strands yet some can pull out a good number at once. Hair may be cut or actually pulled out from its follicles. This can leave patches on the scalp without hair or significantly reduce its volume when held at back.
Individuals susceptible of Trichotillomania admit that they are self-conscious of what they are doing. Nonetheless, others seem to do it almost absent-mindedly.
Frequent bleaching products can potentially cause hair breakage. Chemicals in dyes or sprays can create a similar effect.
Furthermore, breakage can be intensified by poor washing, drying, combing or brushing frequently.
In addition to above causes, one may be at risk of losing hair due to the following factors.
1. Insulin resistance
Unlike diabetes, insulin resistance has to do with high-level insulin sustained by the body over time. Consequently, this makes your body’s sensitivity to hormones decline. According to the US National Library of Medicine, this is one among other risk factors for losing hair in women (female AGA).
Stress is another factor that will more likely increase chances of this problem especially the diabetic individuals. In most cases, loss of hair related to stress is temporary.
3. Chronic or regular telogen effluvium
When stress comes sudden or you have severe emotional stress, the shedding process increases. This is what is referred to as Telogen Effluvium. Dermatologists have linked stressful situations to causing “certain hair follicles to prematurely stop growing and enter into the telogen (resting) phase.” [www.belgraviacentre.com].
4. Hair loss after surgery
Like stress, surgery is considered a form of Telogen Effluvium in which the loss is prolonged for at least three months after surgery. This occurs due to the fact that its growth is suppressed by the need of the body to prepare and start the healing process.
Fortunately, surgery which comprises hair transplant can lead to temporary since it is expected to regrow six or more months after the operation.
More details about treatment and living with hair loss after surgery shall be discussed in a separate post.
5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
As we mentioned earlier, hormonal imbalance can influence this problem. PCOS can manifest itself in hair thinning in women.
This condition can be diagnosed if the symptoms are detected while attending to other hormonal problems. Good enough to say, PCOS is treatable.
6. Certain treatments or medicines
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause temporary loss. Medicines that may lead this problem are usually prescribed by doctors. These include vitamin supplements, steroids, and medicines to cure arthritis, etc.
7. Skin (scalp) conditions or infection
Scalp ringworm is another common problem that causes loss of hair clumps leaving patches on the scalp. This kind of infection leads to temporary loss in clumps but can be treated and prevented.
Another fungal infection which contributes this problem s piedra or Trichomycosis Nodularis. The areas involved include hair on scalp, body and genital area.
Besides ringworm, inflammatory skin conditions such as folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis can also lead to which is a temporary loss. In addition, these conditions may involve infection on scalp hands or anywhere where they occur.
8. Poor diet and deficiencies in vitamins
Lack of essential vitamins A and B in your diet can cause it to fall out. Additionally, severe deficiency of Iron can weaken it making it susceptible to falling out in clumps.
Female hair loss causes and pattern
What causes hair thinning or falling out in women? Is it hair loss or pattern baldness in women different from that of men? Initially, scientists thought that predominance of traces of male sex hormone by females was the sole cause of androgenic alopecia.
Now, according to the American Hair Loss Association, the damage of follicles caused by the conversion of testosterone to DHT happens in both in men and women. As opposed to losing hair in males, when there is an imbalance in female hormones (where these hormones are lowered), women can start losing some strands – in addition to other hormonal problems.
Hormonal hair loss in women
This problem in women can be associated with some factors that are closely linked to hormonal action; such as:
- Ovarian cysts
- Birth control practices like contraceptive pills
- Onset of menopause
- After giving birth
Another reason why females have this problem is anagen effluvium. Its occurrence is associated with processes that lead to impairment of cellular division (mitotic activity). One of the things that lead to this problem is chemotherapy as a treatment method.
In women, traction alopecia occurs probably due to tight hairstyles, (such hair extensions, braiding, and cornrows). If done frequently, pulling effect puts a lot of pressure on follicles hence trauma.
Other factors discussed above can also account for this issue women including aging, hereditary factors, and influence of hormones or stress.
Thinning in women
Thinning hair in women in most cases is hereditary. Even though, use some care products frequently can significantly cause it to thin out.
Hair loss in men
Most of the factors that we have discussed can be the reasons why men have this issue. Let us briefly beef up on causes of male pattern baldness and how it may affect individual or career life.
Baldness and patterns
Androgenetic alopecia is a common male pattern baldness cause among men. Male pattern baldness begins with a receding hairline and thinning on the crown. As the it recedes, characteristic M-shape forms.
Though the entire male baldness is not well understood, research on genetics indicates that males with androgenic alopecia (AGA) have follicles subtly sensitive to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Men losing their hair is less likely to divert career life but can affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.
NOTE: Hereditary loss in men rarely cause thinning.
To sum up, loss of hair generally falls into either hereditary or non-hereditary. “Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is one that affects men and women and is caused by a genetic predisposition to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).” [www.belgraviacentre.com]
Non-hereditary reasons include hormonal imbalance, disorders, illness, infections, and trauma to follicles.
Though uncommon, some women can possibly show a male pattern. Similarly, men can also develop the pattern shown in female’s pattern.
Baldness in men is permanent. Even though, news from a recent research shines a spotlight on the possibility of reversing the problem. As published in the journal PLOS Genetics, chief author (Dr. Ricardo Marionini) believes that the new findings on the relationship between genetics and losing hair, will revive hopes and provide a possible solution to baldness. However, the research is yet to be evaluated but this would depend on what the causes are.
Finally, losing hair in men or women especially youthful age can have devastating effects. It could interfere with individual or career life. So far FDA-approved treatments can be applicable but be cautionary with hair restoration treatments under testing.