Hair loss most common on the head, may affect any part of the body. Hair loss may develop gradually or suddenly . It results from hereditary factors, aging, local skin conditions, and diseases that affect the body generally (systemic diseases). Many different drugs can also cause hair loss. When it occurs on the head, hair loss is generally referred to as baldness. More than half of men and women in the United States experience hair loss. About 30% of people have hair loss by age 30 years, and about 50% have hair loss by age 50 years. Some people prefer to let their baldness run its course untreated and unhidden.
Others may cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves. And still others choose one of the medications and surgical procedures that are available to treat baldness. Before pursuing any of these treatment options, talk with your doctor about the cause of and best possible treatments for your hair loss.
Hair loss occurs when hair follicles stop producing hair growth – it is called alopecia. Patchy hair loss on the scalp is called alopecia areata. Complete loss of hair on the scalp is called alopecia totalis. The word “alopecia” comes from the Greek “alopex” for “fox.” Foxes are less furry when afflicted with a skin disease (the “mange”) which causes them to lose their hair. When a fancier word for “baldness” was sought, the mangy fox supplied it “alopecia” or, if you wish, “fox-mange” not a very positive image to associate with baldness. There are many types of alopecia (baldness or hair loss), each with a different cause. Alopecia may be localized to the front and top of the head as in common male pattern baldness.
Causes of Hair Loss
The most common cause of hair loss is rooted in your genes also known as androgenetic alopecia, hereditary hair loss can begin any time after puberty, but usually sets in before the age of forty and may accelerate around the time you reach menopause. A large amount of oestrogen is produced during pregnancy causing the hair follicles to go into their growth phase. Once the birth is over the hormonal balance is restored and the opposite happens with the hair follicles going into a hair loss phase. Another common reason for hair loss in women is stress as known as Telogen Effluvium. What happens is that the growing healthy hairs enter the resting (telogen) phase of hair growth. The hairs matrix appears to stop dividing causing the hair to begin falling out. Women in their 40’s to 60’s will be affected by this kind of hair loss.
Symptoms of Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur as thinning or as shedding, with clumps of hair falling out. It can be general-you lose hair all over your scalp-or focal, which means you lose it in one area only. In inherited hair loss, men generally develop bald spots on the forehead area or on the top of the head, while women have an overall thinning of the hair throughout the scalp.
Treatment of Hair Loss
Some people choose to treat hair loss with medications or surgery, such as hair transplantation. Others choose to wear hairpieces (wigs or toupees) or use different methods of hair styling (dyeing or combing). The approach you use depends on the cause of your hair loss and how you feel about it. Some people feel they need treatment, while others are not as concerned about thinning hair or baldness. If a disease, medication, or stress is the underlying cause, treating the disease, changing medications, or eliminating or learning to manage the stress may stop the hair loss.