Are you worried about the clump of hair you find every time you brush? Hair loss or alopecia is the condition where people lose hair from single or multiple areas of their head and body. It may result from family history, medical conditions and treatments, or simply as a part of aging. Depending on the cause, hair loss can be temporary or permanent.
Hair loss can affect anyone — men and women. Although male pattern baldness may get more attention, women suffer just as much from it. Indeed, 49 per cent of women will experience hair loss throughout their lives. Here we’ll explore the causes and the treatment you can do to combat the condition.
How Much Hair Loss Is Normal?
It’s normal for anyone to shed about 50–100 strands every day. So, you need not worry about a few strands in your hairbrush or on your clothes. But if your hair starts to fall out in clumps or if it gets thinner and thinner over time, you may have to consult with your doctor.
What Signs Should I Look For?
Hair loss may present itself in various ways depending on the cause. Some may notice sudden hair loss; others will notice gradual thinning. We recommend keeping a diary to track any changes or patterns you see. Here are the red flags you should look out for; make sure to inform your doctor about the patterns to find out the cause.
The most common sign of hair loss is gradual thinning on the top of the head. While it impacts both men and women, it’s more evident in men with receding hairlines. For women, you’ll notice it when your hair parts start to broaden, which tends to be less apparent.
Bald spots may be circular or patchy. They may come in coin sizes and typically appear on the scalp. You may notice these spots feel itchy or painful before the hair falls out.
Handfuls of Hair
You may experience sudden hair loss. This often happens after emotional or physical trauma. For example, you may notice your hair may come out quickly while washing or combing it, leading to overall thinning.
Some medical treatments, like chemotherapy, may cause sudden hair loss all over your body at once.
Common Types of Alopecia, Their Causes & Treatments
There are various causes of alopecia, from genetics to hair care habits or anything that triggers the immune system to attack hair follicles.
Androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss is a condition caused by genetics. The disease has seven stages and progresses slowly as your follicles keep shrinking until it gets sealed shut, leading to balding. While men notice balding as a receding hairline and specific bald spots, women’s hair loss comes as overall thinning.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in women, which typically starts between 12 to 40 years old. While it’s primarily due to genetics, it can also be triggered by bad habits and poor health, such as digestive issues, unhealthy lifestyles and sleep patterns, stress and other disorders. Your environment can be a factor, too; pollution and hard water play a role in the onset of hair loss. However, it is manageable when treated early between stages 1 to 4.
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune condition that causes coin-sized bald patches on the scalp and, in extreme cases, on other parts of the body like eyebrows and beards. Stress can trigger this hair loss, which typically begins with one or more round bald patches that may or may not overlap. Alopecia areata can only be treated with a prescription of corticosteroids administered by a doctor.
Telogen Effluvium is a temporary hair loss when you experience extreme mental and physical stress or trauma. It can also be seen predominantly after an illness or surgery where your body goes through trauma, such as post-pregnancy, typhoid, tuberculosis and severe viral infections, like Covid. In this case, hair loss happens because your body rapidly pushes a good amount of healthy hair from growth phase (anagen phase) to the falling phase (telogen phase). Treatment starts once the trigger is addressed and the hair cycle goes back to normal. It can include a healthy diet, non-surgical hair replacement, hormone replacement therapy for women experiencing menopause, and counselling support to manage stress or anxiety.
Alopecia Universalis is an advanced stage of Alopecia Areata that results in complete hair loss on the scalp and body. Although no therapy has been proven to work for everyone with Alopecia Universalis, multiple treatments are being explored. So, who knows, a revolutionary treatment may just be around the corner.
Are You Experiencing Hair Loss?
Hair loss is not a superficial problem. It can indicate other health issues, like anaemia, thyroid PCOS or vitamin deficiencies. This could also evidently mean your diet and lifestyle habits can trigger hair loss. So if you want to heal your hair loss, you should simultaneously deal with its triggers and symptoms. Your GP is your best ally in this journey, so make sure you contact them once you start experiencing any of these symptoms.