Hair loss and hair thinning happens to almost everyone at some point in their lives. In the UK alone, 13.4 million men and women are suffering from one form of hair loss or another. More often than not, this is something that takes people completely by surprise. Many people don’t notice their hair loss until they’ve lost 50% of their hair, then panic and start looking for answers online.
It’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. With about 100,000 hairs on your head, that small loss isn’t noticeable. New hair normally replaces the lost hair, but this doesn’t always happen. Hair loss can develop gradually over years or happen abruptly. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary.
Hair Loss can be caused by a multitude of causes and it can be very tricky to correctly identify the cause in a lot of cases. The most common cause for both men and women is Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as Male and Female Pattern Baldness. This hair loss is inherited in the genes from both of our parents.
Our genes will determine at what age we start to see the affects of Androgenetic Alopecia and which hairs on our head will be affected by it. It is estimated that by the age of 50 that 50% of men and women will be affecting in some degree by Androgenetic Alopecia. This form of hair loss is caused by the interaction between Dihydrotestosterone and Androgen Receptors at the base of our hair follicles.
Another major cause of hair loss is Chemotherapy treatment for cancer. It is an unfortunate side effect of the treatment that at the moment can’t be prevented or predicted. Cancer is a horrible illness to be suffering from and your hair falling out doesn’t make the process any more pleasant. Chemotherapy is a particularly powerful medication that targets fast growing cells within the body. Cancer is one of those fast-growing cells, but so are the cells that are growing our hair follicles. Chemotherapy can cause hair to fall out all over the body. For most of us the hair loss is only temporary, but many find the texture of their hair has changed when it does grow back.
Traction Alopecia is more of a self-inflicted hair loss cause than the others. Traction Alopecia is caused by inflicted high levels of stress on your hair over an extended period of time. Tight pony-tails and cornrows are intensive hairstyles on your hair. These hairstyles cause a constant pull on the hair which can cause permanent damage when used over an extended period of time.
Nutritional deficiencies are another hair loss because that aren’t uncommon. If your diet isn’t balanced and pulling in the right vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function at full capacity, then your body will prioritise your key organs first. Your hair itself is an organ, but is one of the least important. If you are Iron deficient, or low on vitamins like Biotin or Niacin your hair and nails may start to suffer. Your GP will be able to do a blood test to see if you do have any nutritional deficiencies.
There is an unfortunate few that will see hair loss caused by an Auto-Immune disease like Alopecia Areata, Totalis or Universalis. For an unknown reason the body can attack the cells that grow our hair follicles. For Alopecia Areata there is a chance that the hair will regrow, but there is a high chance of the condition resurfacing at a later date. The difference between the 3 different auto-immune hair loss conditions is just the degree of hair loss that is seen. It can vary from small patches, to the whole scalp to the whole body. There is currently no known cure for any of these.
Hair loss can actually be a sign that you are suffering from a more severe illness. Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:
- Thyroid disease
- Alopecia areata (the autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles)
- Scalp infections like ringworm
- Diseases that cause scarring, such as lichen planus and some types of lupus, can result in permanent hair loss because of the scarring.
Hair loss can also be due to medications used to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
A physical or emotional shock may trigger noticeable hair loss. Examples of this type of shock include:
- A death in the family
- Extreme weight loss
- A high fever
- People with trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) have a need to pull out their hair, usually from their head, eyebrows, or eyelashes.
If you are suffering from any form of hair loss, then we do recommend seeing your GP so that they can identify the cause of your hair loss.