In addition to the changes that hair loss can make on your scalp, it can also have an impact on other aspects of your life. The reason that hair loss can be connected to other areas of your health is because hair loss can result from hormonal changes, hereditary among generations, medical conditions and some medications.
Baldness is generally referred to as the thinning of hair or excessive hair loss on the scalp. In general, hereditary patterned hair loss in men and women is the most common cause of baldness among patients. Some people cope with their hair loss well while others try to hide it by wearing hats. Many people also seek medical help or a surgical procedure such as hair restoration.
Hair Loss Symptoms
The rate in which hair loss appears depends on the cause of the hair loss and whether the hair loss is only on the scalp or elsewhere on the body. The type of hair loss suffered by a patient also determines if the loss is temporary or permanent.
Common hair loss symptoms include:
- Patterned Hair Loss – This type of hair loss typically happens on a gradual basis and it often starts in the front, crown or top areas of the scalp. It is usually the most common type of hair loss and is evident in both men and women as they get older. Male hair loss often starts with the hair starting to recede from the forehead in a pattern that resembles the letter “M” (due to the hair receding on the corners). Men can see thinning hair on the crown, or even the entire top of the scalp, becoming thinner over time. Most women keep their hairline on the forehead. However, they do see a broadening of the part and some hair thinning on the top. Male hair loss is due to a combination of genetics and the male hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The reason for female pattern hair loss is not as clear but genetics can play a big part in female hair loss. Some of the most popular treatments for patterned hair loss include a hair transplant and either finasteride or minoxidil.
- Full-Body Hair Loss– Some autoimmune conditions, as well as some medical treatments, can result in the overall loss of hair on the body. For example, hair loss from chemotherapy and Alopecia universalis can cause patients to experience overall hair loss.
- Shock Loss– A physical or emotional shock can cause the hair to loosen and fall out. This hair loss condition can also be seen after a surgery such as a hair transplant. The sudden hair loss is usually a reversible condition and the reversal can happen just a few months after the condition causing the stress is removed.
- Circular or Patchy Bald Spots– Some people suffer a form of hair loss where the bald spots are best described as smooth and coin-sized. This type of hair loss is normally only found on the scalp but the hair loss can also occur in the eyebrows or the beard. The most common cause for this type of hair loss is an autoimmune disorder or self-inflicting hair pulling.
Causes of Hair Loss
In general, people lose 50 to 100 hairs a day without any noticeable thinning of the scalp hair. This is due to the fact that new hair is growing in at the same time. Typical patterned hair loss has hair shafts become smaller during every new hair growth cycle. This continues to the point that the hair shafts become invisible. Hair loss occurs when the hair growth cycle and shedding is disrupted for a number of reasons.
Hair loss is normally related to one or more of these factors:
- Heredity– In general, this is the most common cause of hair loss and was discussed earlier in this article as male-pattern or female-pattern baldness. The hair loss usually happens gradually but it can also happen in predictable patterns. Some examples of hair loss due to heredity include a receding hairline, male bald spots and thinning hair in women. Hair loss due to heredity also dictates the age, and rate, at which patients begin to lose hair and the overall level of baldness. This type of baldness is most common in men and can involve hair thinning as well as miniaturization.
- Autoimmune Disease – Patchy hair loss is seen thanks to Alopecia Areata (AA) which occurs when the immune system of the body attacks hair follicles. The result is sudden hair loss that leaves smooth/roundish bald patches on the skin. Another immune reaction that can cause scarring at the cellular level, and the eventual destruction of hair follicles, is scarring or Cicatricial Alopecia (CA). Plus, there are a number of skin conditions that cause scarring alopecia and permanent loss in the affected areas. These skin conditions are known to include forms of lichen planus, lupus and sarcoidosis.
- Male Hormones– As mentioned earlier, DHT is a natural byproduct of testosterone and it causes hair loss in men who possess male patterned hair loss genes. A testosterone elevation, as well as DHT and other male hormones, can cause patterned baldness in females who have the male patterned baldness gene.
- Infections – Infections can impact the hair and the scalp skin. As a result, this can cause hair loss and scaly patches on the scalp. However, the hair will normally grow back after the infection is treated.
- Medications – Hair loss from medication includes cancer drugs, medicine for depression and heart problems and also high blood pressure and birth control medications.
- Additional Hormonal Imbalances– Conditions that can cause a person to suffer temporary hair loss include pregnancy childbirth, thyroid problems and the start of menopause.
Learning More about Hair Loss
Patients suffering from hair loss should schedule a hair consultation appointment with a board-certified surgeon. The doctor can find out more about the patient’s family history when it comes to baldness. This is an important factor in determining the rate of future hair loss in patients with patterned hair loss. This information can also help determine the best course of treatment for female patterned baldness.