Getting to the Root of Hair Loss:
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Causes, Myths, and Prevention
Causes, Myths, and Prevention
Witnessing hair loss can be scary. As soon as you see hair collecting around the bath plug or on your hairbrush, you might go straight to Google, fearing the worst. And It’s normal to lose a certain amount of hair per day, but how much hair loss is too much?
Most hairdressers say they get asked this question all the time. They’ll reassure you that it’s normal to lose 50 to 100 strands per day.
Losing hair in the shower or after brushing is normal. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms such as:
- hair falling out at the root,
- hair thinning severely, or
- hair falling out in clumps,
then perhaps it’s time you contacted your doctor. This article covers everything you need to know about hair loss, causes, and treatments.
- Why is my hair falling out?
- Common types of alopecia
- Debunking some common myths
- Causes of hair loss in women and men
- Natural treatments for hair loss
- Medical treatments for hair loss
- Next Steps
Why is my hair falling out?
Your hair is generally a good indicator of overall health. If it tends to break or fall out, this may be from certain medications, illnesses, infections, or chemicals. Statistics show that hair loss is on the rise.
Half of women will experience hair loss by the time they’re 50, and around two-thirds of men experience some sort of hair loss by the time they’re 35.
Hair loss or alopecia can be temporary or permanent. It can affect our scalps or the entire body, and it has a range of causes. Here are four common types of alopecia.
Common types of alopecia
- Alopecia areata: considered an autoimmune condition. Hair usually falls out in patches on the scalp and can affect other parts of the body where hair grows.
- Androgenetic alopecia: commonly known as male-pattern baldness. Women can also experience it as “overall thinning.”
- Chemotherapy-induced alopecia: the loss of hair experienced as a side effect of chemotherapy.
- Traction alopecia: hair falls out as a result of being pulled, relaxed, or chemically treated.
Debunking some common myths
Some common myths about hair loss include wearing hats too often, over washing hair, and not cutting hair frequently enough.
The hair loss industry also recommends expensive vitamin treatments or shampoos. Sadly these treatments don’t work as hair is dead tissue, and vitamins won’t stimulate hair growth. And while many expensive and time-consuming remedies are touted as being effective at combating hair loss, sadly, most are ineffective.
Causes of hair loss in women and men
In extreme cases, hair loss can signify a thyroid problem or an autoimmune disease such as alopecia areata. However, the common causes are:
- Hereditary or genetic: female and male pattern baldness are often hereditary, with genes affecting hair growth and growth phases.
- Pregnancy and childbirth: hormones can affect hair growth and hair loss.
- Anaemia: a lack of iron can contribute to hair loss.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): in some cases, PCOS can cause hair loss.
- Psoriasis or dermatitis: the scratching brought on by psoriasis or dermatitis can contribute to hair loss.
- Stress or PTSD: more and more scientific studies point toward stress as being a factor in hair loss.
- Dramatic weight loss: this can have the same effect as significant stress on the body.
- Excess Vitamin A
- Iron, zinc, protein, and/or biotin deficiency
- Certain medications: some acne medications and medications that are high in Vitamin A can cause hair loss.
- Cancer treatment
- Hormonal imbalance
- Haircare regime
- Covid-19: hair loss after a high fever has been reported as a symptom of Covid-19, although it is short-term for many.
Some simple tips for preventing hair loss in women involve a hair care regime. For example, how we treat our hair when it’s wet can make a huge difference. It’s also advised to limit or discontinue relaxing, bleaching, or chemically treating the hair. We should also avoid tight buns and ponytails as they pull on our hair too much. Male-pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, affects over half of men, and there is no cure for it. Minoxidil has shown some success at slowing down hair loss until you stop using it. As soon as you do, you begin to lose your hair again.
Natural treatments for hair loss
Vitamins and minerals are essential for our bodies. They can help prevent hair loss and aid with overall hair health. Biotin, Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Zinc form part of a balanced diet and lifestyle, but you can also ask your medical practitioner to recommend supplements.
- Biotin or Vitamin B7 can be found in foods such as egg yolks, legumes, nuts, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
- Iron-rich foods include red meat, leafy greens, legumes, and seafood.
- Vitamin C is contained in citrus, leafy greens, strawberries, and broccoli.
- Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, and your body naturally produces Vitamin D from spending time in the sun.
- Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, spinach, cashew nuts, and pumpkin seeds.
- Zinc can be found in shellfish, meat, legumes, and nuts.
Medical treatments for hair loss
There are pills, topical solutions, and procedures that can prevent hair loss and sometimes promote hair growth. However, in many cases, when you discontinue the medication or treatment, your hair reverts to its former state.
But if you’re determined to stop your hair loss, try:
- Rogaine: a topical solution that is rubbed onto the scalp. It’s most effective for slowing down hair loss rather than promoting hair growth.
- Corticosteroids: are used to treat alopecia areata. Anti-inflammatories suppress the immune system, which stops your hair loss. However, long-term exposure to corticosteroids isn’t sustainable as it’s not good for your health.
- Hair replacement procedures: such as hair transplantation and scalp reduction, can effectively treat permanent hair loss, but it is painful.
Medical treatments can be expensive and aren’t always guaranteed to work. However, they have shown some success and are worth discussing with a medical practitioner.
Hair loss can be damaging to the psyche, so it’s imperative to address it as soon as possible. Most people deal with hair loss at some point or another, so there shouldn’t be a stigma around it. And, because it comes in a range of different forms, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
The important thing is to get help and advice as soon as possible. The sooner symptoms are addressed, the sooner the causes can be identified and the treatment developed. While it is difficult to regrow hair, the impact of hair loss can be significantly reduced with the right treatment plan, so why not speak to one of our medical professionals today?
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