Hair loss is a naturally occurring phenomenon. As some hair falls out, new hair will grow to replace it. However, hair loss may be accelerated by a number of conditions, such as menopause, alopecia areata, and physiological changes after chemotherapy, pregnancy, or surgery. Hair loss can affect men or women, as well as children.
Although there are treatments for hair loss, including the use of hair loss medications, laser hair restoration, and hair transplants, hair loss can seriously affect a person's confidence. Below you will find information on a variety of possible hair loss causes. Knowing the cause of your hair loss can help specialists formulate a hair restoration plan that will work for you.
Highly unpredictable, alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss on the scalp as well as other areas of the body. This disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States alone. In people who suffer from alopecia areata, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, which halts hair growth.
Alopecia areata often begins with small, smooth, round bald spots that appear on the scalp. This can develop into total hair loss on a person's scalp and may result in the loss of all body hair. Alopecia areata occurs in males and females of all ages and races and often begins in childhood.
After Major Surgery
Hair loss may occur in patients who undergo major surgery. About three or four months after major surgery or a serious illness, patients may lose a large amount of hair. This type of hair loss is the result of stress associated with the illness, and the hair loss is often temporary.
Hair loss is normal after major surgery, so it is important for patients to speak to their surgeon about this possible side effect before undergoing the surgery. If you would like to know more about hair loss after major surgery and ways to treat it, consult a hair restoration specialist.
Cancer Treatment – Chemotherapy
Hair loss is a common and unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy. Hair loss after chemotherapy can cause hair loss on many different areas of the body, including the scalp, the face, the underarms, and the pubic area. Hair loss after chemotherapy occurs over a period of days or weeks and can result in either thinning and slight hair loss or complete loss of hair. Hair loss after chemotherapy is temporary, and growth of new hair usually occurs six to eight weeks after treatment.
Approximately one-third of women report noticeable hair loss during menopause. Hair loss during menopause is caused by a drop in estrogen, resulting in an imbalance in testosterone. This hormonal imbalance causes a loss of hair on the head and hair growth in other areas. Hair loss caused by menopause is usually temporary and generally improves over time.
After Pregnancy and Childbirth
During pregnancy, increased estrogen levels cause women to experience a period of stimulated hair growth. Because of this, many women notice increased hair loss after pregnancy, experiencing some level of hair loss approximately three to six months after delivery. Hair loss after pregnancy is common and shows that the body is adjusting as hormone levels return to normal.
When the body is in crisis, as it is during hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, the body’s hair cells may shut down as the energy is redirected to other parts of the body. During thyroid disease, the hair thins, falls out, and often changes in texture. Hair loss as a result of thyroid disease is treatable and should therefore be considered a temporary condition.
Yasmin® and Other Birth Control Pills
Changes in women’s hormone levels can affect both hair growth and hair loss. Birth control pills contain estrogen and may result in a hormonal imbalance. Hair loss caused by contraceptives typically doesn’t last long, and any hair that is lost will grow back. If a person does experience hair loss due to the use of Yasmin® or other birth control pills, this hair loss can usually be corrected by switching to another brand of oral contraceptive. Hair loss has also been known to occur when a person discontinues use of certain birth control pills.
Accutane® and Other Prescription Medication
Certain prescription drugs such as Accutane® can result in different levels of hair loss. Before taking any type of prescription medication, it is important to ask the physician about any potential side effects. Apart from hair loss, certain prescription drugs may also cause depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other side effects.
Hair loss caused by iron deficiency or anemia can take place suddenly or over a long period of time. If the amount of iron needed by the body is not replaced through proper nourishment, non-essential stores will be used up, resulting in hair loss. Iron deficiency is common to women during menstruation and pregnancy and can be corrected through proper diet or iron supplements.
Hereditary hair loss is known as androgenetic alopecia. This genetic hair loss condition commonly referred to as pattern balding or pattern baldness can occur in both men and women.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a derivative of testosterone. Elevated levels of DHT can cause hair follicles to shrink and perhaps stop producing hair. DHT can sometimes be a factor in genetic hair loss and can result in the loss of hair located in the front of the scalp. Hair on the back and sides of a person's scalp will not be affected by DHT.
Improper Hair Care
If used too often, a variety of chemical treatments (e.g., hair dyes, perms, bleaches, tints, and hair straighteners) can damage a person's hair and result in some level of hair loss. In addition, hairstyles that pull at the hair such as braids or ponytails can also result in hair loss.
Severe illnesses (often those which are accompanied by high fever) can also cause hair loss. A high fever or similar illness causes the hair cells to shut down, resulting in hair shedding. This type of hair loss is temporary, and lost hair should eventually grow back.
As with hair loss caused by severe illness, those who suffer chronic illnesses may experience some level of hair loss or hair shedding. Hair loss caused by chronic illness is often related to stress associated with the illness. Hair loss that occurs following chronic illness is usually temporary.
Protein deficiencies can cause a person’s body to conserve protein by signaling hair to switch to a resting phase, halting hair growth and potentially causing hair loss. Protein malnutrition causes similar hair loss and hair growth problems as iron deficiency. Hair loss due to protein deficiency can be corrected with a proper diet.
A contagious fungal infection, ringworm can affect a person's scalp, body, feet, and nails. Ringworm can cause hair loss if the infection invades the skin of the scalp. Once the infection is treated, hair growth will resume.
Find a Hair Loss Surgeon through DocShop
The information presented above is intended as a description of some of the most common hair loss causes. Contact a physician for hair loss remedies specific to your condition. Hair loss can affect both men and women for a variety of reasons, including alopecia areata, menopause, chemotherapy, and changes that occur after surgery or pregnancy. To learn more about these hair loss causes and how to treat them, use DocShop to locate a hair loss surgeon near you.