Hair Loss Causes
There are many reasons why one would have hair loss and they differ in men and women. To understand why hair loss exists, let us first understand the life cycle of hair.
Our hair goes through cycles of growth and rest, but its course is different for each individual. In general, the growth period lasts for about two to three years, and the hair grows about a centimeter per month. After the growth phase starts receding, the resting phase starts which continues for about three to four months. At the end of the resting phase, the hair strands fall out and new ones begin to grow in its place, thus the growth phase starts again. This cycle may become disrupted due to many reasons.
If you develop a hormonal imbalance or a specific irritation of the scalp, some hair follicles can potentially have a shorter growth phase and produce thinner and shorter hair shafts.
There are specific types of hair loss and the cause for each of them may be different. We need to understand the types of hair loss to better understand what is causing them.
- Pattern baldness: This type of hair loss can occur in both the genders. In this type, the normal growth phase of two to three years is shortened and the hair is also not as thick or sturdy. With each growth cycle, hair becomes rooted more superficially and tends to fall out more easily during shampooing or combing. Some researchers suggest heredity plays a key role in pattern baldness. Heredity also affects the age at which you begin to lose hair, for example, if your mother, father, or any of your grand parents started to lose his/her hair at a certain age, there is a good chance that you may also start losing your hair at the same time in your life. Heredity also affects the developmental speed, pattern, and extent of your baldness.
- Scarring alopecia: This type of hair loss is permanent and is characterized by inflammation of the hair follicle. Inflammation damages the hair follicle and it can cause the hair to fall out. Due to inflammation, the new hair does not grow. This condition may not occur independently and is usually associated with several skin conditions like lupus erythematosus or lichen planus.
- Alopecia areata: This is thought to be an autoimmune disorder (condition where one’s immune system attacks its own tissues), but the exact cause is unknown. People who develop this condition are generally in good health, but a few of them may have other autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease. Researchers believe that some people are genetically prone to get this condition, or a viral infection can contribute to the cause. In this condition, your hair generally grows back with treatment but may again fall out and regrow again. This may happen a number of times.
- Telogen effluvium: In this case, hair suddenly and unexpectedly falls out. It may occur when there is some kind of emotional or physical shock to your system which causes the hair roots to be pushed prematurely into the resting state, but generally within few months, the hair follicles become active again and new hair starts to grow. It may occur after emotional shock, such as the death of a loved one, a high fever due to certain diseases, sudden or excessive weight loss, surgery, or metabolic disturbances. Hair typically grows back once you treat the underlying condition, but it takes a long time and the growth may not be same as the earlier growth.
- Traction alopecia: This kind of hair loss occurs when you pull your hair too tight when you style it. The roots tend to weaken and the hair can fall out.