Typically, hair loss is considered to be the domain of aging men, even though in reality, anyone can suffer from hair thinning and loss. Common hair loss conditions include telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and male pattern hair loss, and can affect virtually anyone, regarding of the age or sex.
As a part of a healthy hair growth cycle, every person will shed approximately 100 hairs a day. However, while this minor loss of hair is completely normal, excess loss resulting from heredity or medical conditions can be very distressing.
Telogen Effluvium: One of the Most Common Hair Loss Conditions
Telogen effluvium often happens when the growth phase of the hair cycle is interrupted by an inside disturbance. As such, more hairs than typical move from the growth to the shedding phase at the same time, resulting in excessive diffuse hair loss. Telogen effluvium can result in up to 300 hairs being shed in a single day - 3 times more than healthy hair loss rate! If you are suffering from this condition, you may notice more hairs left behind on your hair brush, on your pillow and clothes, or in your shower drain.
Types of Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium can be either chronic or acute, depending on the severity and the cause of the disturbance. Due to the duration of the hair growth cycle, the hair loss may take place 6 to 12 weeks after the triggering event, so it may be difficult to connect the two. If you do notice excessive hair, look back a few months to search for possible causes.
What are the Causes of Telogen Effluvium?
Similar to other common hair loss conditions, telogen effluvium may be caused by a broad range of factors, such as:
- Ferritin (stored iron) deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- Protein deficiency
- Fast weight loss
- Crash dieting
- Stomach flu
- High fever
Treatment of Telogen Effluvium
In cases where telogen effluvium results from short-term illnesses, such as stomach upset or high fever, the condition will normally resolve itself. However, in the case of chronic telogen effluvium resulting from nutritional deficiencies, the disease needs to be treated with corresponding nutritional supplements. In such cases, blood tests can be used for diagnosis, and should be performed in case you notice excessive hair loss lasting longer than 6 weeks.
The good news is that telogen effluvium is almost always a temporary condition: as soon as the underlying issue is resolved, the hair almost always grows back.
If you have been seeing extra hair on your brush, pillow, or shower drain, or you are noticing odd bald spots in the mirror, you might be suffering from an autoimmune disorder referred to as “alopecia areata” - one of the most common hair loss conditions, also known as “spot baldness”.
Why does Alopecia Areata Occur?
With any autoimmune disease, your own immune system attacks your body. As such, with alopecia areata, it’s the hair follicles that are being under attack. As a result, the hair comes out of the follicles, often in clumps the shape and size of a quarter. The extent of such of hair loss is individual: some people only lose it in a few spots, while others lose large amounts of hair at once.
Alopecia Areata: Types and Treatment
Even though it is rare, but certain types of alopecia cause a complete hair loss on your head (alopecia areata totalis) or even the entire body (alopecia areata universalis). For each and every person, the disease and its treatment will be different. For some, the hair will grow back, but eventually fall out again, while for others, the hair will grow back for good.
Alopecia areata can be treated with:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Intralesional corticosteroids
- A course of oral steroids.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Unfortunately, with age, hair thinning and loss are experienced by the majority of men. It is inevitable and completely natural, just like wrinkles or grey hair. However, just like with other signs of ageing, there are ways to decrease the extent of thinning hair, such as reducing the loss, promoting new hair growth, and increasing the diameter of single hairs.
Male Hair Loss: Statistics
The most likely candidate for male pattern hair loss is a caucasian man, with a 100% probability of thinning hair. This can range from a mildly receding hairline, an overall reduction in hair thickness or a thinning crown, to being left with a “horseshoe” shape of hair growing around the scalp. The size of such horseshoe can vary, depending on the age thinning started and genetic predisposition.
About 50% of black men experience a lesser degree of hair loss, while Asian and America Indian men are least susceptible to such common hair loss conditions.
Even though male pattern hair loss can occur in either men or women, it is among the most common hair loss conditions that are pronounced in men.
Causes of Male Pattern Hair Loss
Losing hair every day is normal. However, if the rate of falling hair is greater than the pace at which it regrows, your hair will start growing back finer or not at all.
Falling scalp hair is caused by androgens - the same male hormones that cause body hair to grow longer and stronger. This is why you might often notice that those men that are bald, often have more hair on their bodies, especially their back and chest.
In some men, hair follicles are genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to the action of androgens. This is why the medical term for the male pattern hair loss is “androgenic alopecia”, meaning hair loss caused by androgens.
If you have androgenic sensitivity, androgens can reduce the length of the hair growth cycle. Unfortunately, hair does not stay in its follicles unless it is growing, so reduced growth duration will cause thinning hair.
Male Pattern Hair Loss: Possible Treatments
In case you notice hair loss on the crown or retraction of the hairline, it is advisable to perform a thyroid function test and check the levels of ferritin. In case of ferritin deficiency, iron supplements may produce regrowth. Other treatments include oral finasteride or topical minoxidil. Hair transplantation also presents an effective, but expensive option.
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