For many, their hair is their pride and joy and so the gradual or sudden loss of any of it can have a devastating effect on their self-esteem and confidence. Due to the numerous causes of hair loss there is no single solution to the problem. However, diagnosing the source of your hair thinning or loss could be the first stop to preventing further shedding, promote hair re-growth, or help you find ways to come to terms with your missing hair.
Below are some of the most common causes of hair loss and the possible solutions to the problem:
Male and Female Pattern Baldness
Pattern baldness is a genetic condition, passed down by either the father or the mother. Although not common knowledge, pattern baldness affects both men and women, with men experiencing hair loss along the hairline and a thinning crown, while women are more like to have hair loss at the top of the head and along the sides. The cause of the condition is a genetic predisposition to the over production of the hormone DHT, which causes the hair follicle to produce thinner and thinner strands of hair, until finally the overall density of the hair is greatly reduced and hair production ceases.
Solutions: As pattern baldness is hereditary it is impossible to prevent the condition. However, there are methods of preventing complete hair loss, including medication such as Finasteride medication like Proscar and Propecia. Those taking Finasteride medication were found to have visible hair growth (48% of participants) and a reduction in hair loss (42%) in a 5-year study upon the drug. However, if the participant stopped taking the drug the hair loss would return and because the side-effects of the medication include difficulty peeing and impotence, many patients often discontinue their use of Finasteride.
Other solutions to hair loss caused by pattern baldness includes hair transplant treatment, which involves removing healthy growing hair from one part of the head and transplanting it into the area with diminished growth. Once the hair is transplanted it will first fall out and then new permanent hair will replace it. Hair transplant treatment isn’t suitable for everyone and it can often take numerous sessions to get the look you want.
This condition can affect people of any age, but commonly affects women more than men. The disorder occurs due to the body’s autoimmune response against the hair follicles, which are attacked by white blood cells, causing them to stop producing hair. This auto immune response is thought to be the body’s reaction to extreme stress.
Alopecia can affect the entire body and eyelashes and eyebrows are also susceptible to the problem. Some people may also find their alopecia affects their entire head, while some only lose patches of hair. However, as the hair follicles are dormant rather than dead, hair re-growth can occur, but it is still not understood how to artificially restart this growth.
Solution: If the area of hair affected by alopecia is small, topical ointment, such as Protopic can be used to suppress the hair loss, as can corticosteroids, which act against the body’s autoimmune response. However, because it is impossible to determine if and when hair growth will start again many alopecia sufferers opt for wigs for the replacement of their hair, which can be made to suit their particular needs and condition.
A healthy diet is necessary for the up keep and maintenance of all areas of the body and the hair is no exception. If the required nutrients are missing from your diet then your hair is unable to produce new strong healthy hair, or hold on to old hair, which is then shed. Poor nutrition doesn’t usually lead to complete hair loss, but can decrease the overall volume of your hair greatly.
Solution: Healthy hair productions requires zinc, biotin, protein and iron, which can be found in beans, dark green vegetables, nuts and fish. Another tip is to limit the amount of fatty, fast foods in your diet, as they limit the blood supply and dispersal of nutrients to the hair follicles, causing a loss of hair volume.
Chemotherapy drugs are used to destroy and prevent the production of new cancer cells, but they also attack the body’s natural cells, including hair follicle cells. Once treatment has started hair loss will begin within the first couple of weeks and gradually you may lose a whole head of hair. However, some people may experience only mild hair loss, while others may experience no hair loss at all.
Solution: Certain cooling cap solutions can be used before and during chemotherapy treatment to prevent hair loss. These cooling treatments come in the form of a gel cap worn on the head and a refrigeration cap, which is attached to a machine. However, both can be uncomfortable to wear and require continual use to prevent hair loss. The fact is, however, that once your chemotherapy treatment is over your hair will be able to naturally produce hair once again and for those who have lost their hair, wigs are available to wear until it grows back.
Pregnancy and Hair Loss
Increased hair production during pregnancy and hair loss after childbirth is a common occurrence, which is affected by the body’s production of oestrogen. When pregnant, the body produces more oestrogen, which encourages the follicles to produce more hair and hold on to it for longer. This means your hair will be glorious and thick during pregnancy, but while begin to shed dramatically once you have given birth to your child.
Solution: 3 months after your pregnancy you should expect to see about a 60% decrease in the volume of your hair, which may come out quite easily, leading to full brushes and clogged drains. However, there is no need to panic, as 6 to 12 months after this initial shedding your hair will return to its normal cycle. If you would like to keep some of your pregnancy hair, tips such as using biotin and silica based shampoos, wearing your hair loose and taking vitamin supplements can all help you keep some of your pregnancy hair.
Finding the cause of your hair loss is the best first step to take and will help you decide on the ideal solution to your problem, or find the best way to replace your missing hair and come to terms with your loss. Half of the battle with hair loss is the psychological aspect, but thankfully there are numerous online groups today who share their experiences, offer advice and provide empathy and understanding for those dealing with hair loss.