Are you tired of seeing your precious locks disappear? Hair loss can be a frustrating and concerning issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Understanding the causes behind this common problem is the first step towards finding effective solutions.
In this TH Cosmetic‘s article, we delve into the world of hair loss causes, exploring the various factors that contribute to this condition. From genetics to lifestyle choices, we unravel the mysteries surrounding hair loss and empower you with the knowledge to tackle this issue head-on.
Hair growth cycle
The hair growth cycle is a natural process that occurs in different phases. Understanding the hair growth cycle is important because it helps explain why hair grows, how it grows, and the reasons behind hair loss. Typically, each hair follicle on our scalp goes through a cycle that consists of three main phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
- Anagen Phase: The anagen phase, also known as the growth phase, is the active period during which hair actively grows. It can last anywhere from two to seven years, depending on various factors such as genetics, age, and overall health.
- Catagen Phase: After the anagen phase, the hair follicle enters the catagen phase, which is a transitional phase. This phase lasts for a relatively short period, typically around two to three weeks. During catagen, the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the blood supply, causing the hair to stop growing.
- Telogen Phase: The telogen phase, also known as the resting phase, is the final phase of the hair growth cycle. It lasts for about two to three months. During this phase, the hair follicle remains inactive, and the club hair is fully formed. Approximately 10-15% of our hair is in the telogen phase at any given time.
Hair loss types
Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a common condition that affects both men and women. There are several types of hair loss, each with its own causes and characteristics. Understanding the different types can help in identifying the underlying cause and determining the most appropriate hair loss treatment. Here are some of the major types of hair loss:
- Androgenetic Alopecia (Male/Female Pattern Baldness): Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting both men and women. In men, it is often referred to as male pattern baldness, while in women, it is called female pattern baldness.
- Alopecia Areata:Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, leading to sudden hair loss. It often presents as round, smooth patches of baldness on the scalp, but it can also affect eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair.
- Telogen Effluvium: Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss that occurs due to a disruption in the hair growth cycle. It can be triggered by various factors, including physical or emotional stress, illness, hormonal changes, certain medications, or nutritional deficiencies.
What are the most common hair loss causes?
Hormonal imbalances can contribute to hair loss in both men and women. The hormone responsible for hair growth is called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When the level of DHT increases in the body, it can bind to hair follicles and cause them to shrink.
This leads to shorter and finer hair, eventually resulting in hair loss. Hormonal imbalances can occur due to various factors such as aging, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and hormonal changes during menopause.
Thyroid disorders, specifically hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can have a significant impact on hair health. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, while hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid gland produces an excess of thyroid hormones. Both conditions can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss.
In hypothyroidism, hair loss is often diffuse and characterized by thinning of the hair on the scalp. The hair may become dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, can cause excessive hair shedding, resulting in significant hair thinning.
During pregnancy, many hormonal changes occur in a woman’s body. These hormonal fluctuations can have a temporary impact on hair growth. Normally, hair goes through a cycle of growth, rest, and shedding.
During pregnancy, the increased levels of estrogen prolong the growth phase, resulting in thicker and healthier hair. However, after childbirth, the hormonal balance shifts again, and a larger number of hairs enter the resting phase.
This can lead to excessive shedding, known as postpartum hair loss. Typically, the hair loss subsides within a few months as the hormone levels stabilize.
Certain medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. Some examples include chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, anticoagulants, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and hormonal medications such as birth control pills.
The mechanism behind medication-induced hair loss can vary. Some medications may disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, while others may cause the hair follicles to enter the resting phase prematurely.
In most cases, hair loss due to medication is temporary, and hair growth resumes once the medication is discontinued or the body adjusts to the drug.
Scalp psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells on the scalp, leading to red, itchy, and scaly patches. While hair loss is not directly caused by scalp psoriasis itself, the persistent inflammation and itching can contribute to hair thinning and temporary hair loss.
The constant scratching and picking of the affected areas can also damage hair follicles, resulting in hair breakage and loss. Effective management of scalp psoriasis through medical treatments and proper scalp care can help minimize hair loss associated with this condition.
Other Autoimmune Diseases
Hair loss can be a symptom or complication of various autoimmune diseases. Examples include:
- Lupus: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can be the hair loss causes in women. Lupus can affect the skin and lead to a condition called discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), which results in scarring and permanent hair loss on the scalp.
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: This autoimmune condition affects the thyroid gland and can lead to hypothyroidism. Hair loss is a common symptom of hypothyroidism.
- Sjögren’s Syndrome: This autoimmune disorder primarily affects the salivary and lacrimal glands, causing dryness in the eyes and mouth. It can also result in hair loss.
In these autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own tissues, including the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Treating the underlying autoimmune condition and managing its symptoms can help minimize hair loss.
Physical trauma to the scalp, such as from accidents, burns, or surgeries, can result in hair loss. The trauma can directly damage hair follicles or disrupt their normal functioning, leading to temporary or permanent hair loss, depending on the severity of the injury. Hair loss may occur at the site of the trauma or in surrounding areas.
In some cases, hair transplantation or other surgical interventions may be considered to restore hair growth in areas of permanent hair loss due to physical trauma.
Stress can contribute to hair loss through various mechanisms. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when there is a disruption in the normal hair growth cycle due to stress. Significant emotional or physical stress, such as a traumatic event, major surgery, severe illness, or chronic stress, can push hair follicles into a resting phase, causing more hair to shed than usual.
This condition usually resolves on its own once the underlying stress is addressed. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, counseling, or other stress-reducing methods can help prevent or minimize hair loss associated with stress.
Pulling your hair (Trichotillomania)
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder characterized by the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair.
This condition often results in noticeable hair loss and can affect individuals of all ages. People with trichotillomania may experience tension or anxiety before pulling out their hair and feel a sense of relief or gratification afterward.
The repeated pulling can lead to hair breakage, sparse areas, and even bald patches. Treatment for trichotillomania may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), habit reversal training, and medication.
As mentioned earlier, trichotillomania is a psychological disorder characterized by the irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair. It is often considered a type of impulse control disorder. Individuals with trichotillomania may pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or other body parts.
This repetitive pulling can lead to significant hair loss and may result in noticeable bald patches. Trichotillomania is usually treated through therapy, including CBT and habit reversal training, to help individuals gain control over their hair-pulling behavior.
Nutrient deficiencies, particularly deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, can contribute to hair loss.
Adequate intake of nutrients such as iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin D, and vitamin E is crucial for maintaining healthy hair growth. Iron deficiency anemia, for example, can cause hair to become thin, brittle, and more prone to shedding.
Biotin deficiency can also lead to hair loss and thinning. It is important to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods to support healthy hair growth. In cases of severe nutrient deficiencies, supplementation may be recommended under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Friction can contribute to hair loss, especially when it occurs repeatedly and over a prolonged period. Here are a few common causes of hair loss due to friction:
- Hairstyles: Certain hairstyles that involve tightly pulling the hair back, such as braids, ponytails, or buns, can lead to a condition known as traction alopecia. The constant tension and pulling on the hair shafts can weaken them over time, causing hair loss.
- Rough handling: Vigorous brushing or combing of the hair, especially when it’s wet and more vulnerable, can lead to hair breakage and damage. Additionally, using rough or abrasive hair accessories like elastic bands with metal clasps can cause hair to get caught and break off.
- Friction from hats or headgear: Constant rubbing or pressure from hats, helmets, or headgear can cause hair loss, particularly if the fit is tight or if the material causes excessive rubbing against the hair and scalp.
Hair loss caused by poisoning can result from exposure to toxic substances or ingestion of harmful substances. Some examples include:
- Chemical exposure: Contact with certain chemicals, such as those found in pesticides, heavy metals, or certain cleaning agents, can lead to hair loss. These substances can disrupt the hair growth cycle, damage hair follicles, or cause inflammation on the scalp, resulting in hair loss.
- Medications: Certain medications, including chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, can cause temporary or permanent hair loss. The toxic effects of these medications target rapidly dividing cells, which include hair follicles.
- Heavy metal poisoning: Exposure to high levels of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or arsenic, can lead to hair loss. Heavy metals can interfere with the normal functioning of hair follicles, leading to hair thinning and shedding.
Extreme Hair Care
Excessive or improper hair care practices can cause hair loss. Here are a few examples:
- Overstyling and heat damage: Frequent use of heated styling tools like straighteners, curling irons, or blow dryers can weaken the hair shafts, leading to hair breakage and eventual hair loss. Excessive heat exposure can damage the proteins in the hair, making it more prone to breakage.
- Chemical treatments: Harsh chemical treatments like perming, relaxing, or bleaching can weaken the hair and cause it to become brittle, resulting in hair loss. These treatments often involve strong chemicals that can damage the hair shaft and disrupt the hair growth cycle.
- Tightly bound hairstyles: Similar to friction-related hair loss, tightly bound hairstyles like braids, ponytails, or buns can lead to hair loss when worn frequently or for extended periods. The tension and pulling exerted on the hair can weaken the follicles and cause hair breakage.
Can frequent coloring or bleaching lead to hair loss?
Frequent and aggressive coloring or bleaching can damage the hair shaft, making it more prone to breakage. While this doesn’t directly cause hair loss from the follicles, it can result in hair thinning and reduced hair volume over time.
Is hair loss related to age?
Hair loss can be related to age. As people age, the rate of hair growth can slow down, and the hair may become thinner and more prone to shedding. However, hair loss can occur at any age due to various factors.
Can certain medications cause hair loss?
Yes, certain medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. Examples include chemotherapy drugs, anticoagulants, beta-blockers, retinoids, and some antidepressants. If you suspect medication as the female hair loss causes, consult your healthcare provider.
Is hair loss always permanent?
Hair loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the underlying cause. Temporary hair loss, such as that caused by medication or stress, may resolve on its own once the cause is addressed. Permanent hair loss, such as genetic pattern baldness, may require specific treatments to manage or restore hair growth.
In conclusion, hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to lifestyle choices and medical conditions. Identifying the root cause of your hair loss is crucial in determining the most appropriate treatment or prevention methods. Whether you choose to adopt a healthy lifestyle or seek medical intervention, there is hope for restoring and maintaining a head of healthy, luscious hair.