The common causes of hair loss explained

causes of hair lossHair loss can be a deeply distressing experience for many people and the cause of a huge loss of self-esteem, even resulting in depression and severely impacting a person’s social life.

Although primarily attributed to men, hair loss can happen to both men and women. Many do not realise, but there are actually around 8 million women in the UK alone who are suffering with some degree as hair loss.

Even celebrities are prone to suffering with hair loss, with Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney forking out thousands of pounds on multiple hair transplants in the last two years in a rather costly and apparently futile bid to fight his thinning hair.

Medical Specialists Pharmacy have previously looked at some of the best foods for healthy hair, but what a large number of our patients want to know is why they have lost hair in the first place.

Obviously there is a familial aspect when considering causes of hair loss as baldness tends to be hereditary. Looking at parents, grandparents, etc. can usually give you a good idea regarding your chances of keeping hold of a strong and healthy head of hair. You only have to look at Prince William, his father Prince Charles, and Prince William’s grandfather Prince Philip to see how genetics plays its part in hair loss.

In many cases, there are numerous ways to treat male hair loss and female hair loss such as Propecia (for men), Dianette (for women) and Regaine (for men and women), just to name a few.

However, here Medical Specialists list some of the common causes of hair loss:

. Male pattern baldness (MPB)

So common that many would barely bat an eyelid upon seeing a male who is experiencing MPB.  By the age of 60, two thirds of men will have experienced hair loss which is typified by the hair receding at the temples and leaving behind an ‘M’-shaped hairline. Fortunately, topical treatments such as Minoxidil (Regaine) and oral medications such as Finasteride (Propecia) can halt the process and even regrow hair in some cases.

. Physical stress

Physical trauma such as surgery, a car accident or severe illness can cause temporary hair loss. This type of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium and usually involves widespread thinning of the hair on the scalp rather than bald patches. The hair may feel thinner than before but then begin to grow back properly within around six months.

. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common condition affecting millions of women in the UK and alters the way in which a woman’s ovaries function. The three main features are having high levels of ‘androgens’ (male hormones), ovaries that do not regularly ovulate (release eggs), and cysts that develop within the ovaries.  Just two of these lead to a diagnosis of PCOS. Whilst PCOS can cause facial hair growth, it may also result in thinning hair and hair loss. Many cases of PCOS are treated through birth control pills such as Dianette or Yasmin, both of which block testosterone via its potent anti-androgen. Should you be unable to take birth control pills, you may be prescribed Spironolactone by your doctor.

. Pregnancy

Hair loss related to pregnancy normally occurs after delivery of the baby, instead of during pregnancy. Whilst a woman is pregnant, many hairs enter into a resting phase – part of the normal hair cycle.  The average head can lose around 100 hairs a day, but not all at once, so it is not noticeable. Pregnancy results in your hormones preventing those hairs from falling out, resulting in thicker and fuller hair. However, when the hormones return to normal, the extra hairs will start shedding.  You are not balding – your hair is just beginning the process of getting back to how it was in your pre-pregnancy state. Hair loss during pregnancy is much less common and should be discussed with your doctor as it could be the result of a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

. Lack of protein

Although there is little scientific evidence to definitely state a particular diet has a direct impact on hair growth, it is generally believed that if you are not getting enough protein in your diet, this can be bad for hair growth as hair itself is mostly made of protein. Therefore, a protein deficiency could cause dry or brittle hair, or hair loss in certain cases. Some foods rich in protein which are great for healthy hair include: eggs, nuts, salmon, chicken, whole grains and beans.

. Lack of iron

If you are losing hair, there is a chance you may have an iron deficiency.  Iron helps to create red blood cells and these work at transporting oxygen around the body. If there is not enough oxygen, the hair bulb may be unable to generate new hair cells, resulting in much slower hair growth. Some foods rich in iron which could help against hair loss include: dried fruit, beans, red meat, liver, egg yolks, molluscs, spinach, nuts, dark chocolate, tofu and whole grains.  If you suspect you may be suffering from anaemia and this is causing your hair loss, you should be first diagnosed by your own doctor, who can carry out a simple blood test. Although your iron levels may not be low enough that is deemed anaemic, ferritin levels need to be increased quickly and 72mg of iron is needed for up to 6 months. For a significant number of women, this level of iron intake will not stop the hair loss unless they also take L-lysine plus Vitamin C and B12 to aid absorption of iron. Florisene has been specially developed to provide these nutrients at the specific level, which will overcome this type of hair loss problem(1).

. Lupus

The autoimmune disease Lupus causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy tissue. The hair loss could be mild and happen whilst shampooing or brushing your hair. If the hair loss is more severe, it may fall out in patches and there is usually a rash that appears on the scalp.

1. J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Nov;121(5):xvii-xviii

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