About Hair Loss
Hair Loss Causes
Hair loss is a common problem in all parts of the world, affecting men and women alike. Women may begin to notice significant hair thinning in their 40s and 50s, whereas men first notice hair loss in their 20s, 30s, or 40s.
Before hair loss can be treated, it’s important to understand what is causing the problem:
- Genetics – Hereditary hair-loss is by far the most common cause of balding in men and women. So-called “androgenetic alopecia” is a genetic trait that is inherited from either the mother OR father (contrary to popular myth that it’s just from your mother’s side of the family). Hereditary hair loss is not a disease; it is a physical trait, like eye color or height. This is an important concept to understand because it cannot be “cured.”
- Medical conditions and treatments – Cancer treatment and ringworm of the scalp are just two common culprits of hair loss.
- Medications – numerous prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause hair loss. This list is extensive and includes blood thinners, birth control pills, and anabolic steroids.
- Hormones and stress – Women experiencing menopause, or anyone who experiences traumatic events like the death of a loved one, are susceptible to hair loss.
- Improper hair care – Shampooing too often, combing wet hair, or repetitive use of blow dryers and flat irons may cause or aggravate hair loss issues.
- Trauma – Direct trauma, such as burns and injury to hair follicles, can cause permanent hair loss.
- Diet and poor nutrition – Vitamin A and iron deficiencies can cause hair loss, as can unhealthy weight loss or eating disorders like bulimia.
Hair Growth Cycle
Because hair follicles have growth cycles, some daily hair loss is normal.
The hair-growth cycle has three distinct phases and works like this:
- During the anagen phase the hair will continuously grow for several years (usually 2 - 6 years).
- The catagen phase begins when the follicle begins to go dormant and lasts about 3 - 4 weeks. During this time, the follicle begins to shrink but the hair is still present.
- This is followed by the telogen or shedding phase, which lasts about 3 - 5 weeks.
On any given day, 10 to 15 percent of all hair follicles on a young, healthy scalp are in the third, shedding phase. This translates to about 50 – 150 hairs shed on a daily basis from cyclic follicular renewal.
That said, a significant increase in the rate of hair loss can be cause for alarm – and lead to a visit with a hair restoration physician such as Dr. Robert Niedbalski at Northwest Hair Restoration, who offers a variety of surgical and nonsurgical solutions to protect, renew, and restore hair.
Depending on the unique characteristics and potential causes of your hair loss, Dr. Niedbalski may diagnose you with one of the following types of hair loss:
Alopecia areata is an immune system disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. This results in sudden loss of hair in small spots on the scalp, face, and other areas of the body.
Advanced forms of the disorder include alopecia totalis, where all hair on the head is lost, and alopecia universalis, which results in the absence of all body hair.
Traction alopecia is the loss of hair from constant pulling, often the result of tightly braided hairstyles and hair weaves. It can also occur from compulsively pulling of one’s own hair due to anxiety, nervous tics, or impulse control disorders such as trichotillomania (TTM).
Telogen effluvium is temporary hair loss due to a stressful experience. The stress induces a high proportion of hair follicles to enter the resting (telogen) stage, thus all resting follicles begin to shed hairs at about the same time. Hair growth resumes with the next hair-growth cycle.
Anagen effluvium is the sudden loss of hairs from follicles in the active growth (anagen) phase. This is commonly seen in people who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for cancer. Cancer treatments like these interrupt the growth phase of hair follicles resulting in the sudden shedding of large amounts of hair on the scalp and body.
Sudden hair loss can also be a side effect of some medications, such as diuretics, blood thinners, acne medications, and birth control pills. While typically less dramatic than the shedding seen with chemo and radiation therapy, these medications can cause significant thinning over the course of several months or years.
Hair shaft breakage is when part of a hair breaks off, but the growing end remains in the follicle and continues to grow. Hair shaft breakage results in thinner hair and can be caused by excessive styling, chemicals, sun, chlorine in swimming pools, and nutritional deficiencies.
Regardless of the type or cause, you don’t have to live with hair loss. At Northwest Hair Restoration, we have many solutions available and will provide a treatment plan specifically tailored to your situation.
Tired of watching your hair loss worsen, despite various market remedies? Contact Northwest Hair Restoration of Tacoma, Seattle, and Spokane, Washington, today for your free consultation. Call (253) 572-2949 or use our convenient and confidential online appointment request form to see Dr. Robert Niedbalski about your hair restoration options.