Hair Loss: Causes, Treatment Options & When to Visit Your Doctor

Hair loss is a common issue that affects almost everyone at some point in their life, and it’s nothing to worry about. However, it can be a severe problem that causes distress and affects someone’s quality of life. In fact, several studies show that millions of people in the US suffer from severe hair loss. We provide information on what causes (severe) hair loss, how to treat it, and if there are ways to prevent it. If you or someone you know is experiencing this problem, keep reading to learn more.

picture of a woman scalp with thinning hair. Hair loss

What Is Hair Loss?

Hair loss is a condition where a person starts losing hair from their scalp or other parts of their body. The medical term for this is alopecia. There are different types of hair loss, such as male and female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium. These types can vary in severity and the amount of loss of hair they cause. In some cases, the condition can be temporary, while in others it may be permanent. To make it a bit easier to understand we made an overview of the most common hair loss types and what they entail:

Types Description
Male pattern baldness The most common type in men, characterized by a receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown of the head
Female pattern baldness The most common type in women, characterized by a widening part and thinning hair
Alopecia areata An autoimmune disorder that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp, face, and other parts of the body
Telogen effluvium A type of temporary hair loss that occurs after a stressful event, illness, or hormonal change
Anagen effluvium A type of hair loss that occurs during the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle, often caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy
Traction alopecia Hair loss caused by constant tension or pulling on the hair, often due to tight hairstyles
Scarring alopecia Hair loss that occurs when hair follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, aging, hormonal changes, medical conditions, and nutritional deficiencies. The most common cause is genetics, specifically a condition called androgenetic alopecia, which can cause male or female pattern baldness. This condition occurs when hair follicles shrink over time, producing shorter and thinner hair until they stop growing completely. Other (less) common causes include

  • Age
  • Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause
  • Medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or alopecia areata
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia or protein deficiency
  • Medications or treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Stress or trauma, such as surgery, illness, or emotional stress
  • Hairstyles that pull on the hair, such as tight braids or ponytails
  • Chemical treatments, such as hair dyes, perms, or relaxers
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or scleroderma.

Identifying the underlying cause of hair loss is crucial for finding the appropriate treatment. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the cause and provide the best course of action.

Of course the most common – and obvious – symptom is losing hair and getting bald sport. However, other symptoms also indicate you’re suffering from (severe) hair loss. Early symptoms may include noticing more hair than usual on your pillow, in your hairbrush, or the shower drain. You may also notice thinning or a widening part in your hairline. In some cases, it may cause itching or a tingling sensation on the scalp. It’s important to note that everyone loses some hair every day, so it’s not always easy to tell if you’re experiencing hair loss. However, if you notice a significant increase in the amount of hair you’re losing or any changes in your hairline, it may be a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the cause and find appropriate treatment options.

Androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness). Hair loss

Treatment Options for Hair Loss

When a healthcare provider suspects hair loss, they will usually begin by asking about your medical history and performing a physical examination of your scalp and hair. They may also perform blood tests or other diagnostic tests to check for underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to the loss of hair. In some cases, a biopsy of the scalp may be necessary. The treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause and the individual case of hair loss.

Causes Treatment Options
Androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) Medications such as minoxidil or finasteride, hair transplant surgery, or wigs/hairpieces
Hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy or menopause) No treatment necessary, as hair will usually grow back after hormonal changes have stabilized
Medical conditions (such as thyroid disorders or alopecia areata) Treatment of the underlying medical condition, which may include medications or other medical interventions
Nutritional deficiencies (such as iron deficiency anemia or protein deficiency) Dietary changes or supplements to correct the deficiency
Medications or treatments (such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy) Hair will usually grow back once treatment is complete
Stress or trauma (such as surgery, illness, or emotional stress) No specific treatment necessary, as hair will usually grow back once the stressor has been resolved
Hairstyles that pull on the hair (such as tight braids or ponytails) Avoidance of tight hairstyles and using hair ties that do not pull on the hair
Chemical treatments (such as hair dyes, perms, or relaxers) Avoidance of chemical treatments or using gentler alternatives
Autoimmune disorders (such as lupus or scleroderma) Treatment of the underlying autoimmune disorder, which may include medications or other medical interventions

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