Hair loss is a common problem these days and no single factor can be attributed to it. Hair loss afflicts millions of people—and not just men, though their hair loss is often the most noticeable. Most women, too, experience some degree of hair loss as they grow older. The causes of hair loss are several and vary from person to person.
The causes of hair loss can be broadly divided into two groups. One is a temporary effect and the other involves a prolonged action, usually involving genetics. In most of the cases when the hair loss is temporary it can be cured by medications and treatments. In contrast, long-term (prolonged) hair loss may require long term treatment and sometimes, surgery such as hair transplantation may be required.
Hormonal imbalance can play a major role in temporary hair loss and can have a severe impact. Some of the common causes of hair loss diseases are: Hormonal Imbalances, Inadequate Diet, and Medical Illnesses.
In men hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes of hair loss. The male hormone that causes severe hair loss is testosterone. The enzyme, 5 alpha reductase, which is present in the hair follicles converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The DHT is the most potent androgen that promotes androgenetic alopecia – the common pattern of male baldness or premature hair loss.
Hair loss in women is often difficult to diagnose and can be caused by many factors, including alopecia areata, hormone imbalances, menopause, dietary protein and amino acid deficiency, intestinal parasites, damage from hair treatments, and stress. Imbalance in thyroid hormones is one of the more common causes of sudden hair loss in women. When the thyroid gland is overactive or under active, the hair may fall out. The hair follicles are particularly sensitive to concentrations of thyroid gland derived hormones. Thyroid hormones have a large influence on the cellular metabolism of scalp proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals. The cells of the hair matrix, due to their high degree of metabolic activity, are most profoundly influenced by the deficiency or excess of thyroid hormones.
Hair loss due to a hormonal imbalance is also largely seen in women during pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is a high level of estrogen hormones, but after the child birth there is a rapid fall in the estrogen level and large number of hair follicles fall out. Sometimes, hair loss in women is observed during the post-pregnancy period. Childbirth almost always causes some degree of temporary hair loss, sometimes occurring after a delay of a few months. Long-term hair loss after pregnancy may indicate the presence of a hormonal imbalance in the body.
Nutrition also has an impact on hair loss and takes on many forms of over and under absorption of various nutrients. American’s high-fat, high-animal protein and high-salt diet damages the kidneys and creates acidic blood, thereby leading to hair loss. Also, the typical American diet is also usually low in vitamins and sometimes can either be under or over absorbed by an individual. Poor appetite, digestion and poor absorption are also experienced by adults with zinc deficiency and even taking too large amounts of vitamins such as Vitamin A over long periods can be toxic to the body. Some people take up crash diets in order to achieve rapid weight loss that are low in protein, vitamins and minerals and may lead to malnutrition. Other people are prone to abnormal eating habits leading to an unhealthy diet.
When there is a lack of nutrients being absorbed or consumed, the body will naturally try to economize by shifting growing hairs into resting phase. As hair is made up of keratin, a form of protein, and requires several minerals and protein to make the hair, during protein scarcity period, the hair fibers are forcibly sent into a resting phase, and hair shedding occurs after a period of time. But the condition can be reversed and prevented by eating a proper nutritious diet.
Illnesses can also cause hair loss. High fever, severe infection, or flu are some of the serious illnesses that may cause the hair follicles to enter a resting phase as well. Some cancer treatments also prevent the dividing of hair follicle cells and as a result the growth of the hair fiber is stopped and the hair becomes thin, breaks off and gradually hair loss occurs. This hair loss starts within 1-3 weeks after the beginning of the chemotherapy treatment and patients can lose upwards of 90% of their hair. Other medical conditions can be fungus, gastro-intestinal problems, or other types of dermatological disorders may result in hair loss.
There are also natural reasons for hair loss such as improper hair care that result in severe hair loss diseases like traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is a condition in which the hair fibers are pulled out from the hair follicle by a hairstyle that pulls on the roots of the hair fibers. Sometimes the strong chemicals that are used in hair treatments are kept on the hair for a longer period than they should be.
So if you are experiencing hair loss, baldness, or thinning hair, always remember, many of the causes of hair loss are temporary and can be prevented with the right measures and proper care. Our approach to hair loss is multi-factorial, we take into effect nutrition, hormonal imbalances, lifestyle issues, and your past medical history in addressing the issue. Hormonal panels are typically performed and a natural balancing of your hormones is prescribed if needed as well as recommendations for diet and nutritional products to reverse thinning or premature hair loss. We understand that hair loss is multifaceted and will address these factors in a variety of treatment protocols. Most hair loss is avoidable, so give yourself piece of mind that you have pursued all avenues in reversing your hair loss concerns.