As August marks National Hair Loss Awareness Month, it provides a perfect opportunity to discuss the various types of hair loss and reasons they can occur. Most of us have heard of male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, but there are many possible causes of hair loss, whatever your age or gender.
If you are experiencing hair loss, it’s important to receive a proper diagnosis from a doctor or hair specialist prior to seeking treatment. The important thing to remember is there are a lot of different treatments out there and the earlier you seek help, the easier the condition will be to treat.
5 common hair loss causes
1. Stress: There’s a lot of misconception surrounding stress and hair loss. While normal levels of stress will not lead to hair loss, a traumatic stressful event can trigger the hair to temporarily fall out; a condition referred to as telogen effluvium. This includes both significant emotional and physical stress such as surgery, an accident and grief.
The stressful event can basically shock the hair cycle, causing more hair to enter into the resting phase. This means, when it reaches the shedding phase, you’ll lose a lot more hair than usual, resulting in obvious thinning or bald spots.
Typically, hair loss caused by stress is noticeable around three to six months after the initial trauma has occurred.
2. Pregnancy: Another cause of telogen effluvium is pregnancy, though it typically doesn’t become noticeable until after the birth. In fact, pregnant women frequently report seeing a dramatic improvement in their hair during pregnancy. It appears healthier, thicker and shinier than ever before. So, when it starts to fall out after the body has given birth, it can be understandably worrying.
It’s caused by a significant change in hormone levels. Like acute stress, the hormonal changes cause more hair to be pushed into the resting phase. Then, as the hormone levels drop after birth, the excessive hair in the resting phase starts to fall out.
3. Scalp conditions: Sometimes, hair loss can be triggered by a scalp condition. The most common condition responsible for hair loss is seborrheic dermatitis, followed closely by psoriasis and fungal infections. These conditions can cause inflammation and become extremely itchy. As you scratch the scalp, it increases inflammation and that in turn can lead to damage within the hair follicle.
4. Medical conditions: Many people are unaware that certain medical conditions can lead to hair loss. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition which causes the body to attack its own cells; including the hair cells. However, other medical conditions not directly connected to hair loss can also cause problems, such as PCOS, Lupus and Hypothyroidism.
5. Traction alopecia: One form of hair loss which is becoming a lot more common in women is traction alopecia. This type of hair loss can be caused by tight-fitting hairstyles, extensions and overuse of chemicals on the scalp. The hair follicles become damaged over time, and if left without treatment can result in permanent damage.
The above are just some of the more common reasons that hair loss can occur and each requires its own unique treatment. Overall there are a lot of reasons why you may be experiencing hair loss, so it is vital you get the condition checked out by a dermatologist that specialises in the treatment of hair loss conditions.