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One Mom's Moxie: Causes of Hair Loss

Monday, September 15, 2014

Causes of Hair Loss

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Humans have approximately 100,000 hairs in their scalp, so the typical 50 to 100 shed each day should not lead to thinning of scalp hair. Thinning hair is natural as people get older, but there are other conditions that can lead to hair loss that leads to noticeable hair thinning.

Hormone Imbalances

The most common form of hair loss is known as male- or female-pattern baldness, a genetic condition in which certain sex hormones in susceptible people trigger permanent hair loss. It is most common in men and can begin as early as puberty. Pregnancy, childbirth, discontinuation of birth control pills or the onset of menopause can also trigger hormone imbalances that can lead to temporary hair loss.

Medical Conditions

There are several medical conditions that can lead to hair loss as well, including:

Thyroid conditions – Because the thyroid gland controls hormone levels, an improperly working thyroid gland can cause hair loss.
Scalp infections – There are several types of scalp infections that can invade hair and skin on your head, which can lead to hair loss. Treatment normally resolves the problem and hair will grow back. Ringworm, which is a fungal infection, not a worm is one of the most common types of scalp infections to cause hair loss, while folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles, is also common.
Alopecia areata – A common disease autoimmune disease where the body attacks hair follicles. It usually begins as small, round patches on the scalp which can lead to total scalp baldness, while in some cases it can lead to loss of all body hair. The disorder affects approximately two percent of the population.

Other Causes

Medications can be another cause of hair loss, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Other medications used to treat arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure can also lead to hair loss. People who experience an emotional or physical shock, such as excessive weight loss, high fever or death of a family member may experience thinning of the hair several months later. Some mental illnesses lead to hair pulling, although it may sometimes be from the eyebrows or other areas of the body. Hairstyles that cause hair to be pulled too tight for long periods, such as pigtails or cornrows can also lead to traction hair loss.

There are treatments available for most types of hair loss, including medications and hair replacement therapies. Learn more about hair replacement products by speaking to your doctor who may be able to recommend therapies that will reduce hair loss.