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What Causes Hair Loss?

July 1st, 2014

Hair Loss BrushBoth men and women tend to lose their hair as their age increases. However, some people tend to be more sensitive to hair loss depending on several environmental, health, and dietary factors. In order to fully understand what causes hair loss, there are several components to take into account.

Hair Loss Causes in Men and Women

Male Pattern Baldness (MPB), also known as Androgenetic alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Although other factors, such as serious diseases and extremely stressful events, can cause hair loss, most hair loss in men is due to genetic factors.  Men who suffer from MPB usually have a genetic sensitivity to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in their hair follicles. The follicles become weak and unable to produce hair within the scalp. MPB is generally categorized with the beginning stages being a receding hair line and thinning hair on the crown of the scalp. This eventually progresses, leaving fine strands of hair along the rim of the scalp. In addition to MPB, there are many different ways people are affected by hair loss. Some causes can be from external factors while others may be caused by an internal, medical reason.

External Causes:

Certain medication prescribed from your physician can also cause hair loss to occur. Pills that are classified as anti-depressants, blood thinners and anti-inflammatory drugs can slow the growth of your hair, while also possibly causing hair loss. It is necessary for your doctor to determine whether to not your medication is causing your hair loss, so it is pertinent that you do not stop taking prescribed medication without their consent.

Over-styling is a problem that women face all the time. Harsh hair treatments, such as Keratin or Brazilian straightening remedies can almost immediately cause chunks of hair to fall out if your scalp has a bad reaction to the chemicals used. You must be extremely careful when using hot oil treatments especially, because they can affect the root of your hair, making it a possibility that your hair might never grow back. The ways in which women style their hair can also cause a receding hair line and hair loss. These styles include extremely tight braids, hair weaves, and corn rows, among many others. Men can also suffer from a receding hair line if they consistently braid their hair back as well. Avoiding these specific hair styles can help a great deal, as well as using conditioner every day and letting your hair dry. If you are trying to grow your hair back after putting your hair in a harmful style, it is necessary to stop using products that emit heat, such as a curling or flat iron until your hair returns to its normal state of health.

Anabolic steroids like the ones that some athletes or bodybuilders use to gain muscle mass can really damage your hair and speed up hair loss. Using Anabolic steroids can have the same impact on the body as polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), which is only found in women. In order to gain your hair back, you must get off of the steroids to achieve maximum effect.

Medical Causes:

Another common cause of hair loss in men and women is a condition called Hypothyroidism, where your thyroid gland is underactive. The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that produces hormones that are vital to the regulation of your metabolism as well as human growth and development. When the thyroid is not producing the correct amount of hormones, your hair can begin to become thin and fall out. Taking a synthetic thyroid medication will take care of this condition, and once your thyroid levels become regulated back to normal, your hair should grow back and become thicker.

Hair loss in men and women can also be caused by autoimmune diseases such as lupus. This condition causes the body to become confused and targets the hair on your scalp to be “foreign,” targeting it accidently. This problem, once confirmed that someone has it, can help their hair loss condition through steroid injections. Other treatments, such as Minoxidil, can also assist in making hair regrow at a faster rate.

Believe it or not, but a sudden, dramatic loss in weight is considered to be a form of physical trauma. As mentioned before, when you put your body in such a shock, it tends to freak out and not know what to do at first. The weight loss itself can put a tremendous amount of stress on your body, while not eating a healthy and balanced diet can cause vitamin deficiencies, which can make your hair fall out. To correct this, incorporating a healthy and balanced diet will help regrow your hair and ensure that you are getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients needed for optimal health.

A more rare condition that causes hair loss is Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is classified as an “impulse control disorder,” which causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. It is compared to having a tic, where you continue to do something although you might not enjoy it or know why. Constantly pulling at your hair can strip the scalp of hair, while damaging the follicles. Trichotillomania can start at the young age of 17 years old and is four times more common for women to have this issue than men. Some physicians recommend using an antidepressant to treat Trichotillomania, while other less vigorous solutions include behavioral modification therapy.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by an excess of androgens in the female body that can lead to ovarian cysts, infertility, weight gain, changes in your menstrual period, a higher risk of diabetes, and hair loss. This imbalance of estrogen and testosterone can cause serious depression and is necessary to be treated by your physician. Treating PCOS can be done through a healthy diet and exercise, potentially going on birth control pills, and last but not least, getting specialized treatments to address infertility or diabetes issues.

Your thoughts and feelings regulate many more things in your body than just your mood. Emotional stress on the body as well as physical stress, can lead to hair loss in both men and women. For example, in the case of a death of a loved one or a parental divorce, can cause extreme anxiety, sometimes causing people to have panic attacks. This puts the body into shock, which may lead to hair loss. Taking the necessary steps in a positive direction, like going to therapy, practicing meditation, or getting more exercise can greatly help when faced with this issue.

According to a study in 2009, almost one in every ten women of ages 20-49 suffer from anemia. Anemia is caused by an iron deficiency in the blood, which can be what causes hair loss in men and women. Symptoms of Anemia include but are not limited to: hair loss, fatigue, headaches, pale skin, constantly being cold, and having dizziness. In order to determine whether or not you have Anemia, you must get a blood test by your doctor. If you do have Anemia, simply taking an iron supplement and incorporating more red meat into your diet can help you feel the best version of yourself.

A deficiency of Vitamin B in the body can be what causes hair loss. This is not necessarily a common cause of hair loss, but can definitely be an underlying factor. Like treating Anemia, taking a supplement of Vitamin B can help tremendously. If you are against taking supplements, a more natural route of correcting this issue is by eating foods that contain Vitamin B. These foods include fish, non-citrus fruits, meat, and vegetables that have a high starch content.

Although there are many possible hair loss causes, it is vital that you address any issues you may be facing with a physician before self-diagnosing, for this can cause more health issues in the future.

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