Causes Of Hair Loss

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Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can be temporary or permanent and can affect the scalp or the entire body. Various factors can contribute to the causes of hair loss, including hereditary, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or normal ageing. It is possible for anyone to experience hair loss, but it is more likely to occur in men than it is in women.

Table of Contents

What Causes Hair Loss in Men & Women?

Hair loss can occur due to many various factors. The specific cause of your hair loss can dictate whether you’ll experience thinning of your hair, complete baldness, whether or not it will regrow on its own or if you’ll require hair treatments to assist with regrowth. Some of the causes of hair loss include:

  • Hereditary conditions
  • Age
  • Medications / Medical treatments
  • Illnesses
  • Hair care
  • Hormonal problems
  • Scarring Alopecia
  • STI’s
  • Certain deficiencies
  • Stress

Experiencing Hair Loss Due to Family History

Easily one of the most common causes of hair loss is hereditary and has been passed down from one or both parents. When experiencing hereditary hair loss, it is commonly known as male/female pattern hair loss. However, the medical term for this is Androgenetic Alopecia.

Regardless of what you choose to call it, the underlying cause is that you inherited genes that lead to shrinking and eventually stopping hair growth in your hair follicles. While hair follicles only tend to start shrinking later on in life, it has been documented to start as early as your teen years.

The first noticeable signs of hair loss in men are either a receding hairline or a bald patch on top of your head. For females, the first signs tend to be thinning throughout all your hair.

Thankfully, regrowth is possible with treatment. The earlier you start treatment, the better your chances are of the treatment working. Unfortunately, if you choose to refuse any treatment, you will continue to lose hair without hope of it stopping or growing back.

Ageing Is A Big Cause of Hair Loss

As you grow older, you may notice that you’re losing more hair than normal. As we age, our hair growth tends to grow a lot slower and eventually, our hair follicles just stop growing hair altogether. Because of this, our hair starts to thin, lose its colour and fall out.

Of all the possible causes of hair loss, if you find age is the factor for your hair loss then regrowth is possible, with treatment, for some people if caught early enough. However, not everyone is so lucky.

Medical Treatments Causing Hair Loss

There are many different medical treatments that contribute to the causes of hair loss. One of the most common ones is when cancer patients undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Within a few weeks, you may lose most, if not all, of your hair. A few months after your treatment, your hair may begin to grow again with the aid of medication. 

Causes of Hair Loss: Illnesses & Diseases 

There are so many different illnesses and diseases that cause hair loss, so knowing what to do in each of these cases may help you out in life. Let’s go over some of these causes of hair loss are.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata (or AA) a disease that occurs when your own body’s immune system attacks its hair follicles, resulting in you losing hair. This hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, including your scalp and facial regions such as your nose and ears or even eyelashes and brows.

Infection on the Scalp

You can get infections anywhere on your body, including your scalp. It is common for your scalp to become inflamed and scaly due to a scalp infection. Small black dots may become visible on your scalp as a result of the infection, these are the stubs of your hair. Over time, if left untreated, the infection could lead to a bald spot.

Scalp Psoriasis

Often scaly, raised, reddish patches of skin are characteristic of scalp psoriasis, which is a common skin disorder. Patches can appear individually or in groups, and the scalp may be affected as a whole. Additionally, psoriasis can affect your forehead, back of your neck, and the inside of your ears. This disorder unfortunately does lead to hair loss if left untreated.

Scarring Alopecia

This is a condition where inflammation occurs and destroys your hair follicles. The bad thing about scarring alopecia is that once your hair follicles are destroyed, you won’t be able to grow hair there again.

STI’s

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) that are left untreated can potentially lead to hair loss. A common STI that causes hair loss is Syphilis. This can result in you losing hair in random patches on your scalp, beard and eyebrows.

Thyroid Problems

If you have a thyroid disease then you may notice your hair thinning. A very common site for those who have thyroid diseases is seeing a clump of hair coming out whenever you brush your hair. However, if you are treating your thyroid problem, then you will see some hair growth.

Vitamin, Mineral & Nutritional Deficiencies

It is well-known that hair loss is associated with iron deficiency, one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. Apart from iron, a deficiency in the following as also causes of hair loss:

  • Biotin
  • Protein & Amino Acids
  • Zinc
  • Niacin
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Antioxidants

Hair Care & Styles

There are certain things you do to your hair that are harmful and contribute to the causes of hair loss. The way you choose to care for your hair might actually be damaging it more than you’d want. Colouring, perming and bleaching are all extremely damaging to your hair and can cause hair loss over time.

Another cause of hair loss is the way you tend to style your hair. This is more common in individuals who have long hair. If you find yourself tying your hair up in a tightly pulled back style such as a pony or bun, you may be setting yourself up for hair loss. This type of hair loss is known as Traction Alopecia.

Hormonal Imbalance Can Cause Hair Loss

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of hormonal imbalance in females. Women can experience hair loss, cysts on their ovaries, as well as other symptoms. It is possible to experience a temporary hormonal imbalance when stopping certain types of birth control pills. Women who suffer hormonal imbalances often experience hair loss on their scalp.

Types of Hair Loss Caused By Stress

While there are many causes of hair loss, stress is a big contributor to it. Stress leads to a lot of damage being done. There are three main types of hair loss caused by stress.

Telogen Effluvium

If there is a change in the number of your hair follicles that are actually producing and growing hair, then this is known as telogen effluvium. If this happens during your hair’s telogen hair growth stage, then you will experience shedding.

Oftentimes, this will result in you experiencing hair thinning throughout the entirety of your scalp, especially towards the centre of your scalp. The good news is that those who suffer from telogen effluvium usually don’t lose all of their hair and go bald.

It is said that this may be the second most common reason for hair loss and can be found in both men and women of all ages. What’s better is that hair loss experienced from telogen effluvium can be reversible and won’t permanently damage your hair follicles.

Alopecia Areata

This is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your hair follicles. It is often triggered by stress and is one of the many causes of hair loss. If you suffer from alopecia areata, you may experience round patches of baldness across your scalp. There is a more severe type of alopecia areata known as Alopecia Universalis which results in you losing hair on your entire body. 

Trichotillomania

This is a hair-pulling disorder where feel the need to pull your hair out directly from the scalp. This is also considered to be an impulse control disorder. Oftentimes, you might not even realise that you’re pulling your hair out, as you might do it in times when you’re bored or distracted.

However, this can also be an intentional impulse that is brought on by stress as it may give you a feeling of relief and expel those negative emotions you have. This condition tends to start when you’re in your teen years and last a lifetime. There are even some studies that suggest this may be a genetic disorder.

Understanding What Hair Loss is

Normally, hair is produced by the body in cycles. However, a broken disruption in these cycles leads to hair loss. There are various causes of hair loss as we’ve seen earlier on in this article. You can experience hair loss on any part of your body, but the most commonly affected body part is the scalp. It is estimated that the scalp contains 100,000 hairs that cycle through growth, rest, fall out and regeneration stages.

Why Men Suffer From Hair Loss More Than Women

Over 80% of men suffer from hair loss, whereas only around 50% of women have this problem. This is a big difference when comparing the two values, but for what reason do men suffer more than women? Let’s find out.

There is a condition known as androgenetic alopecia that is more prevalent in men. Hair loss begins at the temples and recedes back in a characteristic “M” shape we’re all familiar with. Men also experience hair loss on their crowns. This condition is genetically inherited and is also known as male pattern baldness.

As a result of the condition, the androgen receptors in the hair follicles become more active. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone, affects these receptors in a way that shrinks hair follicles, therefore making it more difficult for your hair to grow and live.

Men produce testosterone throughout their lives and are therefore continuously making DHT. This is the reason that more men tend to suffer from hair loss when compared to women who don’t have a genetic disposition to hair loss.

Symptoms of Hair Loss

Each of the different causes of hair loss could present different symptoms. Aside from the obvious symptom of your hair falling out, there are other symptoms to look out for such as:

  • Burning or stinging on your scalp before you notice your hair falling out: You may experience this if you have alopecia areata
  • Loss of hair accompanied by an intense itch, burning sensation, and tenderness: If you experience this, you may have an infection so you should see a medical professional for treatment.
  • Sores that itch and leak pus: If your scalp is scaly by your bald patches and produces these sores, then you could potentially have a fungal infection. Alternatively, this could also be a sign of folliculitis decalvans which is a rare condition that causes inflammation of your hair follicles. This condition leads to permanent hair loss and scarring.
  • Psoriasis: If you have some scaly patches of psoriasis, then you should prepare yourself for temporary hair loss.

As mentioned before, the causes of hair loss seem almost endless, and thus symptoms accompanying them differ too. Regardless of the type of hair loss you’re experiencing, if you have severe symptoms or suspect any infections, then you should contact your dermatologist or doctor as soon as possible for treatment.

Another reason it may seem that men suffer from hair loss compared to women, regardless of the causes of hair loss, is because it’s a lot more obvious and noticeable when men start to lose their hair.

What are the causes of hair loss

How Hair Loss is Diagnosed

Due to there being so many different causes of hair loss, it is best to consult with a medical professional the moment you start noticing changes in your hair are suspect you may be experiencing hair loss.

In your appointment, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your history of health, along with your family’s history of hair loss if any. In doing this, they will be able to determine if any of the causes of hair loss could be a hereditary issue.

If your doctor is worried about other causes of hair loss, then he/she might take a biopsy of your scalp if they suspect an autoimmune or skin condition. Another option your doctor might opt for is blood tests. This is to see if the cause of your hair loss is due to any nutritional deficiencies or perhaps signs of an underlying condition.

Procedures For Hair Regrowth

When consulting a medical professional, they will go over the different causes of hair loss and see what could be the best step to take to see some regrowth. The type of procedure that is recommended to you will depend on the cause of your hair loss and if regrowth is possible. In some cases, there is no treatment option for certain hair loss conditions. Some of the procedures your doctor may recommend include:

  • Hair Transplantation: If you have an issue with balding spots or thinning hair then a hair transplantation might be perfect. What’s great about this option is that the results are permanent and natural-looking. There are different types of hair transplants, such as FUT, FUE, DHI and even a FUE and DHI Combination option offered at very select clinics in Turkey such as IdealofMeD.
  • Medications: Minoxidil and Finasteride are the two main classes of medications that aid in treating hereditary hair loss. Men and women can take minoxidil, which comes in liquid, foam, and shampoo forms. Many people use products containing minoxidil to either regenerate hair, decrease the pace of hair loss, or do both. Men on prescription can use finasteride to decrease hair loss and promote new hair growth.
  • Laser Therapy: This is a safe and painless option, however, it is quite a timely process. You will need to go for several treatments each week for a few months before you see any results. Some studies show that laser therapy, sometimes known as low-level therapy, is helpful for those with hereditary hair loss, alopecia areata, hair loss because of chemotherapy or even to help you stimulate hair growth after a hair transplant.
  • Corticosteroids Injections: This treatment needs to be given every 4 to 8 weeks, so it is also a long process to see any hair regrowth results. This treatment involves your doctor injecting corticosteroids into your balding areas.

While there are many other treatments to consider when combating the causes of hair loss, we do feel that the better option would be to consider going for a hair transplant. Not only are the results natural-looking, but if you follow the right aftercare the results can prove to be natural.

Our Final Thoughts on Causes of Hair Loss

As you would have seen in this article, there are a lot of different causes of hair loss, so the last thing you should do is try and self-diagnose. You could potentially have an underlying condition that needs medical attention. Your best option is to see your doctor and tell them what you suspect the causes of hair loss could be. 

Hair loss isn’t something to be ashamed of, especially when a lot more than 50% of our population suffers from this. Most causes of hair loss will have a treatment, such as a hair transplant, where you will be able to regain your confidence and have natural-looking hair again.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Causes of Hair Loss

There are multiple different reasons that could be causing your hair loss, such as hormonal imbalance, stress, diseases and a lot more. We expand into each of these, and more, within this article.
Whether or not your hair loss is permanent will depend completely on the causes of hair loss that you’re experiencing. While in most cases hair loss is only temporary, there are some instances where it’s permanent and irreversible.
Yes. If you continuously have your hair up in a tight hairstyle such as a pony or bun, then this can lead to hair loss. Additionally, a few other causes of hair loss with regard to how you style your hair include dyeing, bleaching, perming and chemically straightening.

The best option would be to preferably consult a dermatologist as thet are experts in not only diagnosing hair loss, but treating it too. They will be able to tell you what your causes of hair loss are.

Macaela

Macaela

As a passionate writer and photographer, Macaela is more detail-oriented than most - resulting in incredibly well-researched articles chock-full of great information.

Last updated by Macaela on August 18, 2022. Content medically reviewed by D. Demirel, MD.

  • Hair loss: Diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from AAD.

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