Hair loss is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you have more hair loss than usual, it can lead to anxiety and worry. In addition, it affects people's self-esteem.
While baldness is a primary cause of hair loss in men and women, there are a number of other reasons.
In this article, we will discuss the main causes of hair loss, the treatments available as well as tips to help you deal with hair loss.
Hair loss: what is it?
Several Dutch studies have found that 20 million men and women in Nederlijk suffer from hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
Androgenetic alopecia can affect only the scalp, but also the entire body. Although alopecia is more common in older adults, excessive hair loss can also occur in children.
People sometimes wonder: "how much hair do you lose per day?". We lose about 50 to 100 hairs per day. With about 100.000 hairs on your head, that small loss is not noticeable.
New hair normally replaces the lost hair. However, this does not always happen. Hair loss can develop gradually or occur abruptly over the years. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary.
If you find yourself losing more hair than usual, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. Your doctor can determine the underlying cause of your hair loss, develop an appropriate treatment plan, and give you tips on what to do about hair loss.
Androgenetic alopecia: baldness in men vs baldness in women
This type of alopecia is often attributed to genetic predisposition and family history. Androgenic alopecia occurs in both men and women. Hair loss in men is often faster, earlier and more extensive.
Doctors refer to common baldness as “androgenetic alopecia” or “androgenic alopecia,” which means that a combination of hormones and heredity (genetics) is required to develop the condition. The exact cause of this pattern is unknown.
Even men who never seem to go bald can still get thinner hair over the years. It is a slow and gradual process in which hair loss is hardly noticed. Often it is only seen when it is no longer there. Adolescents often notice a receding hairline while adult men suffer from baldness.
Women also lose hair on a hereditary (genetic) basis, but in women, hair loss tends to be more diffuse. There is less chance of crown loss. They also suffer significantly less from a receding hairline.
Although some women notice hair loss as early as their adolescence, the rate of loss is generally gradual. It can often take years for it to become apparent to others. There appears to be a normal physiological dilution that comes with age and occurs in many women around their 30s. Extremely thin hair is then not uncommon.
Balding women often suffer from underlying conditions. These include treatable conditions such as anemia and thyroid disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These conditions are diagnosed by blood tests along with a historical and physical evidence. While a few studies have suggested that baldness can be inherited through the mother's family genes, these theories require further testing.
While current studies provide little evidence, spironolactone (Aldactone) has had some success in treating baldness in women.
Hair Loss Symptoms: What Are They?
Hair loss can occur in many different ways, depending on what is causing the hair loss. It can come on suddenly or gradually and affect only your scalp or your entire body. Some forms are temporary, others are permanent.
Signs and symptoms of hair loss can include:
- Gradual thinning on the head. This is the most common form of hair loss that affects both men and women as they age. Men often suffer from a receding hairline. Women usually keep the hairline on the forehead, but experience hair loss all over the head. The hair also breaks off.
- Circular or blotchy bald spots on the head. Some people experience glade and bald spots. This type of hair loss usually only occurs on the forehead, but can also affect beards or eyebrows. In some cases, the skin may feel itchy or painful before hair falls out.
- Sudden hair loss due to stress. A physical or emotional experience can cause hair loss. It can fall out when combing or washing your hair or even after a gentle pull. This type of hair usually causes a general thinning and not bald patches.
- Hair loss all over the body. Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over the body. The hair usually grows back.
- Itchy scalp and hair loss. This could be a sign of ringworm. It can be accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling and sometimes loss of moisture.
Causes of Hair Loss: What Are They?
People usually lose about 100 hairs a day. This usually doesn't cause noticeable thinning because new hair grows at the same time. Hair loss occurs when this cycle is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue.
The causes of hair loss are usually related to one or more of the following factors:
- The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition that can cause both male and female baldness. It usually occurs gradually with age and in predictable patterns - receding hairline and bald patches in men and thinning hair in women.
- Hormonal changes and medical conditions. A variety of conditions can lead to permanent or temporary hair loss, including hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems. Medical conditions include alopecia areata which leads to patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm and a disorder called trichotillomania.
- Medicines and Supplements. Hair loss can be a side effect of certain medications, such as those for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure.
- Hair loss due to stress. Many people experience general hair loss several months after a physical or emotional shock. This type is temporary.
- Certain hairstyles and treatments. Excessive hairdressing or haircuts that pull your hair straight can cause a form of hair loss called traction alopecia. Other hair treatments such as a perm can cause inflammation of the hair follicles leading to hair loss. If scars develop, the loss can be permanent.
A number of factors can increase the risk, including:
- Significant weight loss
- Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and lupus
Hair loss after pregnancy: what about that?
Pregnancy can cause many changes in the scalp. When the hormones fluctuate during pregnancy, a large number of women feel that their hair is getting thicker and fuller. This may be due to a change in the number of hairs that are in the growth phase. However, the exact reason is unknown. Often, postpartum hair loss (telogen effluvium) may occur up to several months later and eventually normalize.
Treatment: what to do against hair loss?
Prescription medications can provide a solution. Combating hair loss can be done with 2 approved hair pills for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: minoxidil and finasteride.
Minoxidil comes in 2% and 5% treatments. The product is applied directly to the areas where the hair is thinning.
This is a safe and effective treatment for androgenetic alopecia.
It takes 6-12 months to improve hair growth. However, people taking minoxidil will have to keep taking it permanently, otherwise hair loss and thinning will occur again.
Side effects of minoxidil include:
- contact eczema
- skin irritation
- excessive hair growth
Finasteride (Propecia) is an oral drug. People who suffer from hair loss take 1 milligram daily. This is a prescription drug for bald men who have already tried minoxidil without success.
Side effects of finasteride include:
- erectile dysfunction
- decreased libido
- gynecomastia, or growth of breast tissue
Natural remedies: what to do with hair loss?
People can also try a range of home remedies to improve hair growth. At the bottom we list some remedies for thinning hair. However, not all home remedies have scientific backing. For this reason, it is always advisable to contact a doctor or health care professional before using these remedies.
Diet plays an important role in the strength and health of a person's hair. Proteins, fats and certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for the health of your hair.
People may notice improvements in hair growth when they increase the amount of certain foods in their diet.
Foods that can stimulate hair growth include:
- Eggs: These contain proteins that are essential for beautiful hair. They also contain biotin, a vitamin for hair growth.
- Brazil nuts: These are a source of selenium, a mineral that can improve hair health.
- Fatty fish: This is a good source of omega-3, which can also improve growth.
- Walnuts: Another source of omega-3.
Vitamin D against hair loss
Vitamin D deficiencies can contribute to baldness. Addressing this deficiency can improve thinning hair.
People get most of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight and their diet. Foods high in vitamin D are:
- Fatty fish
- beef liver
- egg yolks
- fortified foods, such as milk, grains and juices
Try essential oils
Some people use essential oils to stimulate hair growth. Little research has been done on the effectiveness of these oils, but they are unlikely to be harmful.
When using essential oils, people should always dilute them in a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil to avoid irritation. Read more about carrier oils here.
The following oils can be used to stimulate hair growth:
Some animal studies suggest that rosemary oil can increase blood flow and thus improve scalp health. A healthy scalp is important for healthy hair growth.
A 2015 study compared rosemary oil with minoxidil 2%. After 6 months, both the participants who used rosemary oil and those who used topical minoxidil experienced significant hair growth.
This oil is also able to stimulate the blood circulation. Peppermint oil has shown promise as a treatment for thinning hair.
In a 2014 animal study, scientists found that, compared to treatments with salt water, jojoba oil and minoxidil 3%, the peppermint oil treatments resulted in the most hair growth in 4 weeks.
They measured hair growth by comparing the thickness of the hair, the number of follicles and the depth of the follicles.
Some people also use the following oils:
- cedar wood
- lavender oil
- tulsi oil
- thyme oil
Massaging the scalp can promote blood flow. This, in turn, can stimulate growth. Performing a gentle scalp massage using essential oils can provide additional benefits.