Hair loss

What causes hair loss?

  • Hereditary hair loss: Both men and women develop this type of hair loss, which is the most common cause of hair loss worldwide. In men, it’s called male pattern hair loss. Women get female pattern hair loss. Regardless of whether it develops in a man or women, the medical term is androgenic alopecia.

Is regrowth possible? -Yes, treatment can help stop or slow hair loss. It may also help regrow hair. The earlier treatment is started, the better it works. Without treatment, you will continue to lose hair.

  • Age: With age, most people notice some hair loss because hair growth slows. At some point, hair follicles stop growing hair, which causes the hair on our scalp to thin. Hair also starts to lose its colour. A woman’s hairline naturally starts to recede. Is regrowth possible? Caught early, treatment helps some people regrow their hair.
  • Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is a disease that develops when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles (what holds the hair in place), causing hair loss. You can lose hair anywhere on your body, including your scalp, inside your nose, and in your ears. Some people lose their eyelashes or eyebrows. Is regrowth possible? If your hair fails to grow back on its own, treatment may help stimulate regrowth.
  • Cancer treatment: If you receive chemotherapy or have radiation treatment to your head or neck, you may lose all (or most of) your hair within a few weeks of starting treatment. Is it preventable? Wearing a cooling cap before, during, and after each chemotherapy session may help prevent hair loss.
  • Childbirth, illness, or other stressors: A few months after giving birth, recovering from an illness, or having an operation, you may notice a lot more hairs in your brush or on your pillow. This can also happen after a stressful time in your life, such as a divorce or death of a loved one.
  • Hair care: If you colour, perm, or relax your hair, you could be damaging your hair. Over time, this damage can lead to hair loss. Is regrowth possible? You can change how you care for your hair, which can prevent hair Once you damage a hair follicle, hair cannot grow from that follicle. Having many damaged hair follicles creates permanent bald spots.
  • Hairstyle pulls on your scalp: If you often wear your hair tightly pulled back, the continual pulling can lead to permanent hair loss. The medical name for this condition is traction alopecia. Is regrowth possible? You can prevent hair loss by making some changes
  • Hormonal imbalance: A common cause of this imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It leads to cysts on a woman’s ovaries, along with other signs and symptoms, which can include hair loss. Stopping some types of birth control pills can cause a temporary hormonal imbalance. Women who develop a hormonal imbalance can develop thinning hair (or hair loss) on their scalp. Is regrowth possible? Treatment may help.
  • Scalp infection: A scalp infection can lead to scaly and sometimes inflamed areas on your scalp. You may see what look like small black dots on your scalp. These are actually stubs of hair. Some people develop a bald spot. Is regrowth possible? Yes, treatment can get rid of the infection. Once the infection clears, hair tends to grow.
  • Medication: A possible side effect of some medications is hair loss. If you think a medication is causing your hair loss, ask the doctor who prescribed it if hair loss is a possible side effect. It’s essential that you do not stop taking the medication before talking with your doctor. Abruptly stopping some medications can cause serious health problems. Is regrowth possible? Yes
  • Scalp psoriasis: Many people who have plaque psoriasis develop psoriasis on their scalp at some point. This can lead to hair loss. Is regrowth possible? Hair tends to regrow once the scalp psoriasis clears, but this takes time. By following these dermatologists’ tips, you may be able to prevent hair loss.
  • Pulling your hair: Some people pull on their hair, often to relieve stress. They may be unaware that they’re pulling their hair. The medical term for this is trichotillomania. Is regrowth possible? If you haven’t destroyed the hair follicles, yes. For your hair to regrow, you have to stop pulling it.
  • Sexually transmitted infection Left untreated, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can lead to hair loss. Syphilis is such an STI. Left untreated, syphilis can cause patchy hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, beard, and elsewhere. Other STIs can also cause hair loss. Is regrowth possible? After treating the STI, hair often starts to regrow.
  • Thyroid disease: If you have a problem with your thyroid, you may see thinning hair. Some people notice that their hair comes out in clumps when they brush it. Is regrowth possible? Yes, treating the thyroid disease can reverse the hair loss.
  • Too little biotin, iron, protein, or zinc: If you’re not getting enough of one or more of these, you can have noticeable hair loss. Is regrowth possible? When your body gets enough of the missing nutrients, hair can regrow.

 What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes your hair to come out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter. The amount of hair loss is different in everyone. Some people lose it only in a few spots. Others lose a lot. Sometimes, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back for good.

There are different types of this condition. Alopecia areata is most common in its main form, but there are other, more rare types:

  • Alopecia areata totalis means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.
  • Alopecia areata universalis is the loss of hair over your entire body.
  • Diffuse alopecia areata is a sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches.
  • Ophiasis alopecia areata causes hair loss in a band shape around the sides and back of your head.

Alopecia Symptoms

The main and often the only symptom of alopecia is hair loss. You may notice:

  • Small bald patches on your scalp or other parts of your body.
  • Patches may get larger and grow together into a bald spot.
  • Hair grows back in one spot and falls out in another.
  • You lose a lot of hair over a short time.
  • More hair loss in cold weather.
  • Fingernails and toenails become red, brittle, and pitted.

The bald patches of skin are smooth, with no rash or redness. But you may feel a tingling, itching, or burning sensation on your skin right before the hair falls out.

Alopecia Causes and Risk Factors

When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your body. With alopecia areata, it’s the hair follicles that are attacked.

Doctors don’t know why it happens. But they think people who get it have something in their genes that makes it more likely. Then something happens to trigger the hair loss. Learn more about what causes alopecia.

You’re more likely to get alopecia areata if you have:

  • A family member who has it
  • Asthma
  • Down syndrome
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitiligo

Alopecia Diagnosis

If you think you have alopecia areata, you may want to see a skin specialist called a dermatologist. They will:

  • Talk to you about your symptoms.
  • Take a close look at the areas where you have hair loss.
  • Pull gently on the hairs at the edges of the bald patch to see if they come out easily.
  • Check individual hairs and follicles to see if they’re abnormally shaped.
  • Examine your nails.
  • Rarely, you may have a biopsy, which means a small piece of skin is removed from your scalp and looked at under a microscope.

Many conditions can cause hair loss. So your doctor may test your skin for a fungal infection or give you blood tests to check for thyroid, hormone, or immune system problems.

Alopecia Treatment

Alopecia areata can’t be cured. But it can be treated and hair can grow back. If you have it, there are several things to try:

  • These are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune diseases. They can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas. They can also be given as a pill or rubbed on the skin as an ointment, cream, or foam. The downside is that it may take a long time to work.
  • Topical immunotherapy. This is used when there’s a lot of hair loss or if it happens more than once. Chemicals are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction. If it works, this reaction is actually what makes the hair grow back. It also causes an itchy rash and usually has to be repeated several times to keep the new hair growth.
  • Minoxidil (Rogaine). This treatment, which is put on the scalp, is already used for pattern baldness. It usually takes about 12 weeks before you see growth, and some users are disappointed in the results. Read more about which types of alopecia are most likely to respond to minoxidil.
  • Other treatments for alopecia areata include medications that are sometimes used for other autoimmune disorders. These medicines have differing amounts of success in regrowing hair.

Alopecia Home Care

Apart from medications, there are other things you can try if you have alopecia areata.

Wear wigs, hats, or scarves. They cover your hair loss and will protect your head from the sun.

Stress

  • Reduce stress. Personal troubles seem to trigger alopecia areata, although this has not been proven scientifically.
  • Telogen effluvium, another form of hair loss, can also be triggered by stress. When you experience stress, hormones and chemicals including cortisol are released into the body. These provide you with the adrenalin spike required for a “flight or fight” response. However, chronic stress causes continuous production of these hormones, which has a two-fold negative effect: the hormone level in your blood reaches a point where it cannot be brought back under control, and your organs are prevented from producing other important substances—including those which promote hair growth.
  • Of the six main reasons people are affected by hair thinning, with stress and trauma believed to be second only to genetics.
  • Stress disturbs your entire body chemistry: it throws your hormones out of balance, irritates the skin, and affects the general scalp health. Scalp is crucial to hair growth: without a clean, healthy environment in which to grow, hair quickly loses luster and becomes weak and damaged.

Can Covid-19 Cause Hair Loss?

Telogen effluvium can also be triggered after a severe illness, and this has been observed by those recovering from COVID-19. When your body is fighting an infection, it will ‘re-route’ nutrients away from the hair follicles, affecting the hair growth cycle. This will cause more shedding in a short space of time, leaving many feeling uneasy and ever more stressed.

But even those who are not infected with coronavirus might feel like their hair is falling more then usual. Other stresses that have appeared due to the pandemic such as being in lockdown, job uncertainty, financial trouble etc can also lead to hair loss.

The good news is that hair loss due to stress is not permanent and that your hair will grow back to normal once you have removed the source of your anxiety. A healthy lifestyle is one of the most crucial factors in hair health. Eating well and staying hydrated give your body the nutrients for optimum activity. Regular exercise reduces stress and tension, and sleep is essential for cell renewal and repair. These steps must be taken alongside your hair care regimen.

Alopecia Outlook

Alopecia areata isn’t usually a serious medical condition, but it can cause a lot of anxiety and sadness. Support groups are out there to help you deal with the psychological effects of the condition. If you lose all your hair, it could grow back. If it doesn’t, there are different ways to cover your hair loss and protect your scalp. If you notice sudden hair loss, always check with a doctor. There can be other reasons for it besides alopecia areata.