Genetics is mostly to blame for hair loss like hair thinning and patterned baldness, especially in men, and follows a predictable and visible pattern. It’s also fairly common. Nearly 85 percent of men experience significantly thinning hair by age 50, and about 40 percent of women experience hair loss or thinning by age 40, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
However, excessive or sudden hair loss can indicate other health problems and should be evaluated by a medical professional. Hair loss can affect your scalp or your entire body. If you are experiencing hair loss, you may feel self-conscious, unattractive or embarrassed.
Losing your hair can have damaging psychological effects and lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to the American Hair Loss Association, and notes “it affects interpersonal relationships as well as the professional lives of those suffering. It is not uncommon for men to change their career paths because of their hair loss.”
Let’s brush up on good hair hygiene and what is normal in the way of hair loss.
On average, people lose 50 to 100 hairs a day. It’s normally not a big deal because new hair is growing in at the same time. It becomes more serious when the cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or the hair follicle dies and stops growing new hair.
Men and women who lose their hair can typically thank their genetics, as the most common cause of hair thinning or baldness is related to heredity and age. About 80 million men and women in the United States are affected by androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as hereditary hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Other causes and risk factors include:
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and thyroid problems
- Excessive stress related to a physical or emotional shock
- Damaging styling practices and treatments, including tight ponytails and cornrows, or excessive bleaching, hot oil treatments, and perms
- Medications used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure
- Medical treatments including chemotherapy or radiation therapy to the head
- Illness including cancer, diabetes, anemia, and autoimmune diseases or scalp infections such as ringworm
- Medical conditions such as alopecia areata
- Poor diet, eating disorders, or extreme weight loss
Signs and symptoms
Some hair loss comes on suddenly while other types show up gradually. It can be hard to tell when you brush your hair if it’s from normal shedding or a sign of something more. There are certain factors that cause temporary loss of hair, such as chemotherapy, and some types that are permanent.
Signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- Patchy or round bald spots
- Pattern hair loss that begins with thinning at the temples and/or crown
- Receding hairline that resembles the shape of an M in men and patches of thinning hair, especially along the part, in women
- Gradual thinning on the top of the head
- Handfuls of hair that come out when combing or washing
- Full-body hair loss, including eyebrows, beard or arms
- Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp
Tips on preventing hair loss
For people with a genetic predisposition to go bald, there isn’t a lot that can be done to prevent it. Special shampoos, supplements, and dermatological treatments can help restore your hair.
And regardless of your age or family history, you should give your hair some TLC and do what you can to keep it healthy, shiny, and strong. Follow these tips to avoid preventable loss:
- Be gentle when washing and brushing your hair. Regularly use conditioner, a detangler as necessary, and a wide-toothed combed when wet to prevent pulling out excessive hair.
- Avoid things that could make your hair tangle or getting it in sticky candy and foods.
- Keep your hair healthy by getting regular trims and washing it at least every other day.
- Don’t wear it pulled back tight in braids, buns or ponytails or instead, use gentle, tangle-free hair clips and holders.
- Avoid harsh chemical treatments and excessive use of hot rollers or flat irons.
- Don’t compulsively play with, twist or pull your hair.
- Protect your hair from the sunlight, other UV rays, and chlorine in pools.
- Avoid medications and supplements that say hair loss is a side effect.
- Stop smoking. Studies have found an association between smoking and hair loss in men.
- During treatments for chemotherapy, wearing a cooling cap may reduce your risk of losing your hair.
Some people accept hair loss as a natural part of aging and don’t let it bother them. Many men mask baldness by shaving their head or wearing a hat. Women often use hats, wigs, scarves, and makeup to cover up hair loss or patchy baldness. But there are effective cutting-edge treatment options that can stop or delay further hair loss and restore growth.
- Natural remedies including nutritional supplements
- Special shampoos, conditioners, and topical products
- Laser hair therapy
- Minimally invasive and robotic hair transplants
- Medical treatments
Some APDerm clinics offer Platelet-Rich Plasma for hair restoration, which uses your own platelets to stimulate dormant hair follicles. This cosmetic procedure allows for the regenerative process of hair growth to begin again. PRP requires a minimum of three treatments, spaced out 6 to 10 weeks apart, with some patients needing up to six treatments.
If you or your child are concerned or isolating over ongoing hair loss, you should talk to your doctor or dermatologist to determine the cause and the best treatment options. It’s important to seek medical advice if you notice sudden or patchy hair loss when combing or washing your hair or a child’s hair. Unexplained or excessive loss can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Dermatologists treat a variety of conditions related to the hair, skin, and nails and can help you regain your confidence and a healthy head of hair. APDerm’s qualified and caring staff will discuss all of your treatment options. For more information or to find a clinic that offers hair restoration near you, contact APDerm today.