If you have hair, you lose a lot of it every day. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, a person typically loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day. And with more than 100,000 hairs on the average head, that daily loss isn’t a big deal.
But If you’re starting to notice large amounts of loose hair, hair thinning, or bald patches in a particular spot or region on your head, you may be experiencing a hair loss condition — and you’re far from alone. Hair loss — especially male pattern baldness — is extremely common.
And it’s not a condition that necessarily requires treatment: many people take this type of hair loss in stride and (for instance) decide to rock a stylish shaved head.
However, for people who are interested in treatments (or who are unsure what is causing their hair loss), a conversation with a healthcare provider is a first step.
There are many different types and causes of hair loss, including:
Involutional alopecia — Involutional alopecia is a natural condition with which the hair thins with age.
Androgenic alopecia — Androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss. For many men and people assigned male at birth, this hair loss is called male pattern baldness and can begin as early as their teens; for many women and people assigned female at birth, this hair loss is called female pattern baldness and typically begins in their 40s.
Alopecia areata — Alopecia areata is a condition that often starts abruptly and causes hair loss in patches, primarily in children and adolescents.
Alopecia universalis — Alopecia universalis is a condition with which all body hair falls out, including scalp, eyebrow, eyelash, and pubic hair.
Trichotillomania —Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder with which a person pulls out their own hair, resulting in hair loss.
Telogen effluvium — Telogen effluvium is a temporary condition with which hair thins for a short period of time due to changes in the hair growth cycle.
Scarring alopecia — Scarring alopecia is a condition that results in permanent hair loss and is often caused by inflammatory skin conditions that cause scarring, which interferes with the hair’s ability to grow back.
The most common cause of hair loss is hereditary male or female pattern baldness; however, there are many other causes of hair loss including:
If you have a family history of baldness, you may have this type of hair loss.
In some cases, hormonal changes can cause temporary hair loss. Some possible sources of hormonal changes include:
• Starting or discontinuing the use of birth control pills
Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:
• Alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles)
• Certain thyroid diseases
• Scalp infections, such as ringworm
Hair loss can also be due to medications used to treat:
• Heart conditions
• High blood pressure
Some hair loss can be caused by psychological disorders, such as trichotillomania, or other conditions in which hair pulling becomes a compulsion or form of coping.
Hair loss can also be caused by hair care regimens that cause damage to the hair or roots. This includes an overuse of:
• Blow drying
• Damaging hair care products
• Hairstyles that put pressure on the hair follicles
Bald can definitely be beautiful, and many people choose not to treat hair loss. For people who want treatments, however, there have been recent advancements in treatments for some conditions. (If you are unsure what is causing your hair loss, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.)
The two most common treatment options for androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) include medications and medical procedures.
For many types of hair loss, medication will likely be the first option for treatment. There are a wide variety of medications out there — some are available over the counter, and some are available by prescription. But beware — not all drugstore medications and supplements are truly beneficial (and there are plenty of scam products out there). Before investing in a treatment for hair loss, talk to a healthcare provider.
Some prescription medications, such as finasteride, have been shown to prevent hair loss in some patients — your doctor can let you know if this treatment might be right for you.
When medications aren’t enough to stop hair loss, there are also surgical procedures available; typically they are performed by specialists.
Although many causes of hair loss are hereditary (and therefore cannot be prevented), there are things you can do to prevent and/or slow some hair loss — many of which include hair care strategies such as:
Avoiding certain hairstyles — Hairstyles that put increased pressure on the hair follicles may result in increased hair loss. Give your hair a break now and then and go for a loose hair style.
Trying not to pull your hair — Also avoid twisting, twirling and over-brushing your hair.
Using gentle products — Using products that contain hair-nourishing ingredients may help prevent hair loss.
Trying not to overuse tools and products — Limit your use of products that damage the hair, such as:
• Blow dryers
• Hair bleaching products
• Hair coloring products
• Heated combs or curlers
We know hair loss may be difficult to deal with. At Carbon Health, we’re committed to providing you with the best possible judgment-free care. Our healthcare providers will listen to your concerns and partner with you to help you reach your health goals. Book an appointment for an in-person or virtual visit today.