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What causes hair loss?

There are many causes of hair loss. When you start experiencing hair loss, it might be as a result of illness, diet, medicine, or even childbirth. Cases of hereditary hair loss become more noticeable as the year goes by when the hairs start disappearing gradually. Some hair care practices can also cause some level of hair loss.

Hair loss has many causes; the following describes some of the many things that cause hair loss:

Hair disorders

  • Hereditary thinning or baldness: This is also called androgenetic alopecia. It is a common cause of hair loss that affects both men and women. Men who have hereditary hair loss, often get a receding hairline or bald patches, especially on the top of the head. Women still maintain their hairline, but you will notice some level of thinning hair, which may lead to widening. Men may experience thinning hair in rare cases while women can have a receding hairline or bald patches in some rare cases as well.
  • Alopecia areata: some researchers believe it is an autoimmune disease which means the body attacks its hair. The result of this is a smooth, round patch of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body. The health of people with alopecia areata is amazing; their hair loss can re-grow on their own and dermatologists only treat people with this disorder to help the hair re-grow more quickly.
  • Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia: This disease develops in people who are not too healthy. It destroys a person’s hair follicles causing scar tissues to form where the follicles were before they fell off. This makes the hair not to re-grow. When treatment is applied, it stops the inflammation that destroys the hair follicles so that hair can re-grow.
  • Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs mostly in women of African origin. Hairs start disappearing from the centre of the scalp which spreads out from the centre of the scalp. The affected scalp appears very smooth and shiny. The hair loss may be very slow or rapid, when hair loss occurs rapidly, there may be symptoms of tingling, burning, pain, or itching on the scalp. Going to see a dermatologist for treatment can help the hair re-grow hair even if there is already a sign of scarring.

 Disease

  • Underlying medical condition: medical conditions or diseases such as thyroid disease, anaemia, and many others can cause hair loss. Hair loss can stop if the disease is treated.
  • Illness: illnesses such as high fever, severe infection, flu or even a major surgery may cause hair loss. This occurrence is often referred to as telogen effluvium by dermatologists.
  • Some cancer treatments: Some cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause hair loss. This hair loss is a result of treatment stress, and they can regrow on their own after a while.​
  • Ringworm of the scalp: This disease is very common in children. It can cause balding if it is not treated effectively.
  • Trichotillomania: This is a medical condition that makes people to pull out hair from their scalp continuously. They can pull out hair from any part of their body, even their eyelashes, nose hairs, eyebrows, and other hairs on their bodies.

Hormones and stress

  • Menopause: it is common for women in their menopause to experience hair loss. A woman should not expect her hair to grow the way it used to when she was younger once she has reached menopause.
  • Giving birth: women may experience hair loss after giving birth because of the fall in estrogen levels. This is temporary, and it can re-grow a few months after the level of estrogen starts rising.
  • Stress: stress from a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one or divorce can cause hair loss.

Dieting and poor nutrition

  • Vitamin A: excess vitamin A in the body can cause hair loss. Vitamin A is gotten from vitamin supplements or medicines. When vitamin A in the body becomes balanced, your normal hair growth resumes.
  • Weight loss: people are likely to experience hair loss after losing about 15 pounds of their weight or more. The hair loss is likely to be more visible between 3 to 6 months after weight loss and hair can re-grows without any treatment.
  • Iron: you can have hair loss if you do not have enough iron in your body — iron-fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach are a great source of iron. Also, clams, oysters, and organ meats are good sources of iron that can help you regain your hair growth.
  • Protein: protein in the body helps to boost hair growth. When the protein in your body is not enough, it rations the available protein and shut down hair growth. This type of hair loss will be evident after 2 to 3 months of the body, not getting sufficient protein for its functions. Eating more protein-rich food like meats, eggs, and fish as well as adding nuts, seeds, and beans to your diet can stop hair loss.
  • Eating disorder: eating disorder like Anorexia (not eating enough) and bulimia (vomiting after eating) can cause hair loss.

Medicine

Some medications can cause hair loss. These medications may include:

  • Medicines that treat arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
  • High-dose vitamin A
  • Blood thinners.
  • Birth control pills – Women who get this hair loss are likely to have hereditary hair loss.
  • Anabolic steroids which help to build muscle and improve athletic performance can cause hair loss.

Haircare

Your hairstyle or even some of the products you use on your hair can cause hair loss. Haircare practices that may cause hair loss include:

  • Blow dryers, flat irons, and other devices: Using a blow dryer frequently can cause hair damage. The amount of heat from a blow dryer will dry up the water in the hair shaft, brittles it and make it cause breakage. It is recommended that you air-dry your hair before styling instead of using a blow hair dryer. You should also limit the use of flat irons and curling irons to reduce the level of hair loss.
  • Products: bleaching your hair frequently can cause hair to break. The indiscriminate use of dyes, gels, relaxers, and hair sprays can also cause hair breakage. Dermatologists often advise people who suffer hair loss to limit the use of these hair products so as to have less hair breakage.
  • Hairpins, clips, and rubber bands: using hairpins, clips and rubber band to hold hair tightly can break hair.
  • Hairstyles:  wearing hairstyles that pull on the hair such as braids, ponytail or cornrows can cause hair loss called traction alopecia.
  • Improper washing, drying, and combing: too much shampooing, combing, or brushing can cause your hair to break. Rubbing wet hair with a towel, brushing or combing wet hair can also cause hair loss, especially people of Asian origin.

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