Causes of hair loss

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There are a variety of reasons for hair loss in men and women, some of which are temporary and others which are permanent. Discerning the cause of hair loss is one of the first steps in treatment and restoration.

Androgenic alopecia

Male patterned baldness, whose medical term is androgenic alopecia, is the most common culprit behind hair loss. Although its exact prevalence is unknown, some studies suggest that the rate among Caucasian men can be as high as 95%, with men of other heritages experiencing the disorder with lower rates. As one might expect, incidence of alopecia grows more likely with age. However, by age 25, approximately 25% of men exhibit androgenic alopecia. Women also suffer from androgenic alopecia, albeit with a different pattern of hair loss that typically is more uniformly distributed. As such, women are much less likely than men to exhibit a receding hairline at the forehead.

At a hormonal level, alopecia is caused by the interaction of hair follicle receptors with androgens, specifically, excess dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The classic baldness pattern is so relatively uniform in men because hair on the top and crown of the head have DHT receptors, whereas hair follicles on the back and the sides do not. This forms the basis of Hair Transplantation strategy, as hair is taken from the back and sides and placed on the top and crown. Simply moving the follicles from one area to the other does not change the fact that they have no receptors for DHT, and therefore, will not fall out as the original hair follicles did.

Alopecia areata

A less common form of hair loss is alopecia areata, which differs from the androgenic form in that it may progress to the entire scalp and will often appear rapidly. It does not follow male or female patterned baldness. This affects approximately 0.1% of the general population, with nearly equal incidence among men and women. Although alopecia areata can be diagnosed through biopsy, the actual cause remains a mystery. It seems to have a genetic predisposition and may stem from an autoimmune disorder, but the scientific community has yet to reach a consensus.

Causes of temporary hair loss

Telogen Effluvium is a temporary condition that usually appears after childbirth, surgery, and other events that take their toll on a person’s body. This shock causes hair to enter a resting cycle called Telogen Effluvium. This condition corrects itself, usually taking six months or so to be completed.

Medications such as chemotherapy, blood thinners, and Vitamin A are known to cause hair loss. Check with your doctor to see if hair loss is a symptom associated with one of your prescriptions.

Trichotillomania is a childhood disorder where patients physically feel compelled to pull out their own hair. Hair generally grows back once this behavior has stopped, provided that no serious scarring occurred from the condition.

Nutritional deficiencies including generalized malnutrition as well as diet deficiencies in zinc or iron may lead to hair loss. Rectifying the deficiency typically solves the hair loss problem.

Fungal infections may also cause hair loss. Treatment is usually carried out with topical or oral antifungal medication.

Other Causes

Underlying diseases, such as lupus, diabetes, syphilis, sarcoidosis, lichen planus follicularis, and thyroid disorders, are known to cause hair loss. Small patches of missing hair can be an early sign of skin cancer.

Trauma resulting in damage to underlying follicles may result in temporary or permanent hair loss, depending on the extent of the injury to the follicles.

Traction alopecia is caused by excessive pulling of hair. Unlike trichotillomania, this is typically caused by styling treatments such as pigtails, cornrows, and tight hair rollers.

For diagnosis and treatment purposes, Haarklinikken divides hair loss into five categories:

Stress Factors
Nutritional factors
Scalp Disorders
Extensive use of styling products and/or dyes
Hair extensions, straightening irons, blow-drying

Visit our Tampa Hair Loss Treatment clinic for a consultation that will help determine the cause of your hair loss.

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