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What causes hair loss?

Hair loss and thinning hair can be brought on by a variety of different conditions. Although, many researchers still pin most of the blame on genetics. The most common type of hair loss is referred to as "pattern hair loss" (androgenic alopecia). Many natural hair loss treatments exist that can help deal with pattern hair loss. Listed below are other conditions which can cause hair loss and thinning hair.

Conditions are as follows:

Androgenetic Alopecia - male (L) and female (R) - possiblly helped with special hair growth products.

Alopecia Areata - In this type of hair loss, hair usually falls out, resulting in totally smooth, round patches about the size of a coin or larger. It can, rarely, result in complete loss of scalp and body hair. This disease may affect children or adults of any age. The cause of alopecia areata is unknown. Apart from the hair loss, affected persons are generally in excellent health. In most cases, the hair regrows by itself. Dermatologists can treat many people with this condition. Treatments include topical medications, a special kind of light treatment, or in some cases hair vitamins.

AlopeciaAreata Childbirth - When a women is pregnant, more of her hairs will be growing. However, after a woman delivers her baby, many hairs enter the resting phase of the hair cycle. Within two to three months, some women will notice large amounts of hair coming out in their brushes and combs. This can last one to six months, but resolves completely in most cases.

High Fever, Severe Infection, Severe Flu - Illnesses may cause hairs to enter the resting phase. Four weeks to three months after a high fever, severe illness or infection, a person may be shocked to see a lot of hair falling out. This shedding usually corrects itself.

Thyroid Disease - Both an over-active thyroid and an under-active thyroid can cause hair loss. Your physician can diagnosis thyroid disease with laboratory tests. Hair loss associated with thyroid disease can be reversed with proper treatment.

Inadequate Protein in Diet - Some people who go on crash diets that are low in protein, or have severely abnormal eating habits, may develop protein malnutrition. The body will save protein by shifting growing hairs into the resting phase. Massive hair shedding can occur two to three months later. Hair can then be pulled out by the roots fairly easily. This condition can be reversed and prevented by eating the proper amount of protein and, when dieting, maintaining adequate protein intake.

Medications - Some prescription drugs may cause temporary hair shedding. Examples include some of the medicines used for the following: gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, or blood thinner. High doses of vitamin A may also cause hair shedding.

Cancer Treatments - Some cancer treatments will cause hair cells to stop dividing. Hairs become thin and break off as they exit the scalp. This occurs one to three weeks after the treatment. Patients can lose up to 90 percent of their scalp hair. The hair will regrow after treatment ends. Patients may want to get wigs before treatment.

Birth Control Pills - Women who lose hair while taking birth control pills usually have an inherited tendency for hair thinning. If hair thinning occurs, a woman can consult her gynecologist about switching to another birth control pill. When a women stops using oral contraceptives, she may notice that her hair begins shedding two or three months later. This may continue for six months when it usually stops. This is similar to hair loss after the birth of a child.

Low Serum Iron - Iron deficiency occasionally produces hair loss. Some people don't have enough iron in their diets or may not fully absorb iron. Women who have heavy menstrual periods may develop iron deficiency. Low iron can be detected by laboratory tests and can be corrected by taking iron pills.

Major Surgery/Chronic Illness - Anyone who has a major operation may notice increased hair shedding within one to three months afterwards. The condition reverses itself within a few months but people who have a severe chronic illness may shed hair indefinitely.

Fungus Infection (Ringworm) of the Scalp - Caused by a fungus infection, ringworm (which has nothing to do with worms) begins with small patches of scaling that can spread and result in broken hair, redness, swelling, and even oozing. This contagious disease is most common in children and oral medication will cure it.

Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania) - Children and sometimes adults will twist or pull their hair, brows or lashes until they come out. In children especially, this is often just a bad habit that gets better when the harmful effects of that habit are explained. Sometimes hair pulling can be a coping response to unpleasant stresses and occasionally is a sign of a serious problem needing the help of a mental health professional.