Conditions that cause hair loss

Everyone experiences hair loss. In fact, we all lose about 100-150 hair strands per day. Nevertheless, extended excessive hair fall (200-300 hair strands per day) or hair falling out in large chunks might point to a serious problem.

Here are some of the reasons for hair fall.

  • Hormonal

For some, hair loss can be a main symptom of an underlying hormonal problem. Hormonal imbalance disorders disrupt the hair regrowth cycle. This leads to extended periods of prolonged shedding and excessive hair growth in unwanted areas. This includes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is a disease of the ovaries involving imbalanced sex hormones, particularly testosterone. This results in the growth of facial hair and hair thinning on the scalp. Thyroid disorders or imbalanced thyroid hormones – either hypothyroidism (too little) or hyperthyroidism (too much) – can result in excessive hair shedding. People with breast cancer who are undergoing endocrine therapy might also experience hair loss related to suppressed oestrogen levels.

  • Nutritional

Hair follicles require proper nutrients like B-complex vitamins, iron, protein, sulphur, etc. So, some nutritional disorders including anaemia and vitamin D deficiencies are commonly linked to hair loss. Poor nutrition, either through eating disorders, food scarcity, specialty diets or poor nutritional choices, can easily lead to hair loss.

  • Autoimmune

An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks its own cells. When your hair follicles are attacked, it results in patchy bald spots (alopecia areata) or total hair loss of either the scalp (alopecia totalis) or of the body (alopecia universalis). Alopecia areata can present alongside other autoimmune diseases like lupus, vitiligo and autoimmune thyroid disorders. (Source: NCBI)

  • Infection or inflammation

When the hair follicle is infected by a growth of bacteria or fungus (like the ringworm of the scalp), the inflammation can cause hair loss. Any intense inflammation of the skin will not support healthy hair growth. Causes of inflammation-induced hair loss comprise psoriasis (scaly patches), atopic dermatitis (eczema), seborrheic dermatitis (flaky rashes) and contact dermatitis. These are very obvious when they are on the scalp or eyebrows. But they can occur elsewhere too. It’s recommended to consult an expert doctor who can make a definitive diagnosis.

  • Stress

Your body perceives mental stress the same way it perceives physical stress. And any affected stressor on the body can cause hair growth to become detained. And when hair growth is arrested, it sheds. Specifically, when the body is stressed, it releases the hormone cortisol, which can then affect the hair follicle and result in shedding or hair loss. This shedding typically occurs at least three months following a stressful event.

  • Overdose

Over supplementation of vitaminA, selenium and nutrients can cause hair loss. Also, overexposure to environmental agents such as heavy metals (mercury, thallium or arsenic) and synthetic opioids can cause hair loss.

  • Hereditary or age-related

Androgenic alopecia, aka male or female pattern baldness, is inherited and age-related. And it is the most common type of hair loss. Men typically have the thinning of the vertex and a receding hairline. This is mainly around the temple or frontal hairline. Women typically preserve their hairline. They notice thinning hair in the top or crown of the head.

  • Self-inflicted

Trichotillomania or hair pulling disorder is a result of an anxiety-related disorder. This can affect eyebrows, eyelashes, scalp or body hair. But it most commonly involves the hair on the scalp. Traction alopecia is an unintentional consequence of hairstyles like tight braids, weaves, etc.

When to see a doctor?

See your doctor if you are distressed by persistent hair loss and want to pursue treatment for hair fall. For women who are experiencing thinning hair, talk with your doctor about early treatment to avoid significant permanent baldness. Talk to your doctor if you notice unexpected or patchy hair loss or more than normal hair loss when combing or washing your hair. Sudden hair loss is a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

A number of diseases can result in excessive hair shedding and many of them overlap in symptoms. That is why it is important to consult a hair doctor. Through a detailed case history, an accurate diagnosis can be reached and a treatment plan determined. Visit the nearest hair clinic before it is too late and seek side-effect-free hair fall treatment in homeopathy.

Self-help tips:

  • Be gentle with your hair. Use a detangler. Avoid pulling when brushing and combing, especially when your hair is wet. A wide-toothed comb might help stop pulling out hair. Avoid harsh treatments like hot rollers, curling irons, etc. Limit the tension on hair from braids and the use of rubber bands.
  • Ultraviolet radiation from the sun exerts a number of effects on scalp skin and hair. The most apparent effects are to the hair shaft, where UV light causes hair to become brittle. Protect your hair from sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light.

Ask your doctor about a cooling cap if you are being treated with chemotherapy. This reduces your risk of losing hair.

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