Both men and women take pride in their hair and it is always frustrating to notice the signs of the hair loss. Today medicine offers some solutions for baldness but this article will focus on what factors contribute or cause the hair loss.
Generally speaking, hair loss is not associated with internal diseases or conditions, although some conditions, like thyroid disease, may contribute to hair loss. Poor diet is also not a major factor for baldness. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for people on chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer to lose their hair. It is also a possible side effect of immunosuppressants.
Hair loss can be categorized in two groups, depending on whether it is localized or it includes the whole scalp.
Patchy hair loss
A hair that is thinned or falls off from small, localized areas can be caused by several conditions.
Alopecia areata is baldness in patches that usually grows back, while the traction alopecia can be caused by pulling of the hair due to braids or ponytails. Alopecia areata can affect the entire head, and also other parts of the body, like the beard.
Trichotillomania is a psychological condition in which the person habitually twists or pulls off his or her own hair, causing baldness in certain areas. Some persons pull out their eyelashes as well. This usually happens unconsciously and the treatment is behavioral and can start as soon as the person realizes he or she has the habbit of pulling the hair.
Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp, which can lead to hair loss in the affected areas. It is cured with oral medicine that fights the infection, after which the hair grows back.
Generalized hair loss
The most common causes of hair loss that affects the entire head equally are telogen effluvium and androgenetic hair loss.
Human hair lives for about three years and then it enters the telogen phase, in which the root of the hair weakens and the hair is ready to fall off easily. Sometimes when a shock occurs in the system, much of the hair enters the telogen phase and the shedding is more noticeable. “Shock” can mean different factors, like childbirth, sudden weight loss, fever or surgery.
No special treatment is needed for this type of hair loss, it just requires patience until the hair enters the normal rhythm.
Androgenetic alopecia is basically the “common baldness”. It happens to both women and men once they reach certain age, although men usually lose more hair and more visibly.
The causers for common baldness combine hormones and genetics. Some men lose almost all of their hair while in others the hair just gets thinner. Adolescent boys start developing a receding hairline, usually M-shaped.
Frequent shampooing or wearing long hair does not cause baldness. It is a myth that men inherit baldness from their maternal male relatives. Genes do play a role, but the gene does not necessarily come from the mother’s side.