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The Ultimate Guide to Hair Loss


Your hair is the most significant indicator of your youth, health, and wellbeing. It is the first place where signs of aging, illness, and nutritional deficiencies will manifest itself, usually in the form of increased hair loss. Most of us will experience some form of hair loss in our lifetime. For both men and women, hair is an integral characteristic and reflection of your health and identity. It is no wonder that the state and condition of your hair has a profound impact on your mental health, psyche, and self-esteem.

Hair loss can be psychologically devastating, as it adversely impacts your aesthetics and appearance. Being concerned with your appearance and attractiveness is not a matter of vanity. Many studies have shown that attractive people are happier, earn more, and are generally more successful in their personal and professional lives.

Losing your hair can make you feel less desirable and attractive. For men, a full head of hair symbolizes youth, vigor, and virility. In women, long luscious hair is associated with youth, beauty, fertility, and sexual attractiveness. It is no wonder that hair loss in both men and women causes psychological distress, leading to a decreased sense of self-worth, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Before we delve into the various causes of hair loss, you need to understand how the normal hair growth and shedding cycle works.

The Hair Growth Cycle

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Every hair on your body, including the hair on your head, grows in a continuous growth cycle called the hair growth cycle. Every hair on your body will complete the cycle before dying and falling out. The lost hair is replaced with new hair in the same hair follicle, with the new hair going through and completing the same cycle. The hair growth cycle consists of three distinct stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen.

  1. Anagen – The anagen phase is the active growth phase of the hair growth cycle. In the anagen phase, your hair is attached to the dermal papilla and receives critical nutrients from a streaming blood supply. Your blood supplies your hair with all the nutrients and oxygen it needs for optimal health and growth.
    Under normal circumstances, approximately 90% of the hair on your scalp is in the anagen phase. The longer your hair remains in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow. Hair remains in the anagen phase for four to six years, before going into the catagen phase.
  2. Catagen – In the catagen phase, also known as the transitional phase, the hair follicle shrinks and disintegrates to rejuvenate itself. The dermal papilla also rests, cutting the hair fiber from vital blood supply that nourished the hair strand with oxygen and nutrients.
    The hair fiber stops growing due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. The shrunken hair follicle starts pushing the dead hair up and out of the follicle to expel it from the follicle. The catagen phase lasts for two weeks. Approximately 1% of the hair on your head is in the catagen phase. After the catagen phase, the hair fiber enters the telogen phase.
  3. Telogen – In the telogen phase, also known as the shedding phase, the hair follicle becomes dormant and remains in dormancy for one to four months. About 9% of the hairs on your head are in the telogen phase. In the telogen phase, the hair fiber detaches from the hair follicle and sheds.

Under normal circumstances and in young, healthy individuals, a new hair fiber will grow in the same hair follicle to replace the hair that died and fell out, maintaining your overall hair density and volume. But, aging, genetics, and may other internal and external factors can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to temporary or permanent hair loss.

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss is sudden or gradual hair thinning from your scalp. It can occur suddenly or develop gradually over an individual’s lifetime. The degree and severity of hair loss on your head can vary from hair thinning in patches to hair thinning from all over your scalp.

There are between 100,000 to 150,000 hair strands on your scalp. Under normal circumstances, you lose between 100 to 200 hair strands a day, but these lost hair strands are replaced with new hair growth to maintain your hair’s normal volume. Aging, genetics, diet, hormonal changes, stress, medications, and medical conditions can all affect the health of your hair, disrupting its normal growth cycle, resulting in sudden or gradual hair loss.

Hair loss is a common problem, afflicting both men and women at some point in their lifetime. There are different types of hair loss, stemming from different causes. Hormonal changes, trauma, stress, and nutritional deficiencies cause sudden hair loss. You become aware of sudden hair loss when you notice an unusual increase in hair shedding. Increased hair strands fall out after combing or brushing your hair, or you notice more hair in your shower drain after washing your hair. This type of hair loss is usually temporary and reversible, meaning the hair you lost will eventually grow back. On the other hand, hair loss related to aging and genetics occurs gradually over your lifetime. Unfortunately, this type of hair loss is permanent, which means the hair you lost will not grow back, because of irreversible changes to the physiology of your hair follicles.

Hair Loss Causes

Hair loss is a multifactorial predicament, as many factors can contribute to hair loss. While gradual hair thinning with age is a natural biological development, an unusual and sudden loss of hair is generally indicative of an underlying medical condition. If you notice your hair falling out more than its regular shedding rate, you must visit a dermatologist as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause of your abnormal hair shedding. Below are some possible reasons why people experience hair loss:

Hair Follicle Aging

Aging ravages your cellular machinery, leading to dysfunctional cells, and consequently, defective tissues and organs. The age-related DNA damage that wreaks havoc on all your cells also wreck your hair stem cells. Stem cells are progenitor cells that generate new specialized cells throughout your body all the time. Stem cells are responsible for producing new hair follicle cells, which help promote a young, healthy, and productive hair follicle population.

When you are young, the stem cells of your hair follicles generate new hair follicles all the time. As you age, the DNA of your hair follicle’s stem cells sustain repeated injury and damage, making the stem cells dysfunctional over time. Studies have revealed that hair stem cells are converted to skin cells once damaged. The skin cells are then sloughed off from the surface of your scalp, resulting in a decreased population of active hair follicles. The gradual decline in hair follicle population leads to a decrease in the number of hair strands on your scalp, contributing to age-related hair thinning and eventually partial or full balding over time.

Age-related hair thinning is a natural biological process. This type of hair loss occurs gradually over your lifetime, and it is irreversible and permanent. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment available to cure age-related hair loss.

Hereditary Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia)

Hereditary pattern hair loss, or Androgenetic Alopecia (AA), is the most common cause of hair loss, especially in men. In men, hereditary pattern hair loss is called male-pattern hair loss (MPHL); in women, it is called female-pattern hair loss (FPHL).

Hereditary pattern hair loss occurs gradually over an individual’s lifetime. In men, hair loss starts at the temples and the crown. Eventually, hair disappears from the crown to the frontal scalp, resulting in partial balding. The symptoms of hereditary pattern hair loss in women are gradual and diffuse hair thinning from all over your scalp. Female-pattern hair loss manifests itself as an increased widening in your hair parting. In both men and women, hereditary pattern hair loss occurs due to hair follicle miniaturization.

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Hair follicle miniaturization is a gradual decrease in the size of hair follicles over your lifetime, leading to hereditary pattern hair loss. The size of a hair follicle determines the length and density of a hair fiber that it produces. A normal and non-miniaturized hair follicle produces a hair fiber that is thick enough to be seen with a naked eye.

As the hair follicle decreases in size over time, it produces shorter and finer hair, eventually producing a hair fiber so fine that it is unnoticeable. Unfortunately, hair follicle miniaturization is an irreversible process and causes permanent hair loss. Available treatment options for hair follicle miniaturization and hereditary pattern hair loss generally strive to minimize further hair loss, but they demonstrate limited success in restoring lost hair.

Androgenetic Alopecia Treatment Options

Minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) are the only FDA approved medications for treating pattern hair loss. These medications strive to minimize further hair thinning and stimulate the regrowth of lost hair. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter nonprescription topical treatment that is used to treat pattern hair loss in both men and women. It works by dilating your blood vessels, which helps increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to your hair follicles. Minoxidil works best if your hair loss has occurred within the past five years. On the other hand, finasteride is an oral treatment that is used to treat pattern hair loss in men. It works via inhibiting the synthesis of androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to reduce further hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth in men.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is another popular treatment for pattern hair loss. PRP therapy stimulates hair regrowth and reduces further hair loss in both men and women. PRP therapy is a natural and non-invasive treatment that uses platelets derived from your blood to stimulate hair regrowth.

The platelets in your blood contain several growth factors. These growth factors, when injected into your balding spots, will nourish and stimulate the dormant hair follicles in that region to produce thicker and longer hair. In addition, PRP also repairs damaged blood vessels and stimulates the generation of new blood vessels in the injected sites. This promotes the supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your hair follicles to maximize your hair’s growth potential. Plenty of studies have found PRP therapy to be an effective treatment for pattern hair loss.

Hair transplantation surgery is another popular treatment for pattern hair loss. During this surgical procedure, hair follicles that are genetically resistant to balding, such as hair follicles from the back of the head, are surgically extracted and implanted into regions of the scalp that are balding. The entire process lasts from four to eight hours. Most patients will notice new hair growth within six to 9 months of the treatment. Hair transplantation surgery is generally more effective than over-the-counter hair restoration products.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that causes male-pattern hair loss in women. Abnormal production of sex hormones from your ovaries disrupts many physiological systems in your body, triggering a plethora of adverse effects. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome produce excessive amounts of androgens (male sex hormones), leading to a condition called hyperandrogenism. Hyperandrogenism causes irregular periods, anovulation, infertility, acne, hirsutism, and male-pattern baldness in women.

While there is no treatment to reverse hair loss resulting from polycystic ovary syndrome, you can reduce its severity by adopting a variety of methods to correct and balance your hormone production levels. Available treatment options for reducing PCOS-related hair thinning generally work by reducing your androgen levels and enhancing your female sex hormone levels to minimize your hair loss. Effective treatments for minimizing PCOS-related hair loss include weight loss, birth control pills, topical and oral antiandrogen medications, and laparoscopic ovarian drilling.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium (TE) is sudden hair loss due to a traumatic or stressful event that shocks your physiological system. The shock inflicted on your system disrupts your hair’s normal growth cycle, leading to an abrupt increase in hair shedding. Under normal circumstances, 90% of your hair is in the anagen (active growth) phase, 1% in the catagen (transitional phase), and 9% in the telogen (resting phase). Telogen effluvium forces 50% to 70% of your hair into the telogen phase, where they are shed, resulting in abrupt and extensive hair loss.

Telogen effluvium is one of the most common causes of hair loss, triggering a sudden loss of hair from the top of your scalp, one to six months after a traumatic event. Although telogen effluvium can afflict both men and women, the condition is more prevalent in women. When you experience hair thinning due to telogen effluvium, you suddenly notice an abnormal increase in hair shedding.

A traumatic or severely stressful event, serious illness, nutritional deficiency, vitamin toxicity, heavy metal poisoning, thyroid dysfunction, medication, and surgery can all trigger telogen effluvium. Fortunately, hair loss due to telogen effluvium is reversible and temporary. Once the hair loss trigger is identified and treated, your hair growth cycle will resume its normal activities, resulting in hair regrowth within six months.

Nutrition

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Your hair needs energy and vital nutrients in sufficient quantities for optimal health and growth. Vitamin toxicity, insufficient calories, lack of protein, iron deficiency, and inadequate iodine can all deteriorate the health of your hair and cause increased hair loss. Your body regards your hair as a non-essential bodily tissue, meaning your body does not need your hair in order to survive.

When your body is subjected to shock or stress, your hair is the first bodily tissue to suffer as your body does not expend any energy or resources to preserve non-essential tissue in times of crisis. As a result, any nutritional overload or deficiency will first show up in your hair, in the form of increased hair loss. Below are some nutritional factors that can affect the health and growth of your hair:

Insufficient Calories

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Consuming insufficient calories, crash dieting, and sudden rapid weight loss shocks your physiological system and exerts tremendous stress on your body, triggering telogen effluvium, or stress-related hair loss. When your physiological system is alerted of a severe caloric deficiency, it switches into survival mode. During survival mode, your body conserves its scarce energy and allocates it to essential tissues, organs, and functions to enhance your chances of surviving this crisis. Because hair is not an essential tissue, your body will not expend any energy for hair maintenance and growth during survival mode.

During survival mode, your body will force hair in the active growth phase to the resting phase to preserve energy for essential physiological functions. As much as 50% to 70% of your hair can be forced into the resting phase, where they will all shed and fall out. Fortunately, stress-related hair loss due to insufficient calories is temporary and reversible. You can stop your hair loss if you increase your caloric intake and aim for a healthy weight loss regimen.

If you are on a diet to lose excess weight, aim for a healthy weight loss regimen, and try to lose the excess weight slowly and gradually. To prevent stress-related hair loss on a diet, aim for no more than four to eight pounds of weight loss per month.

Protein Deficiency

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Protein is an essential macronutrient your body needs to carry out its essential physiological functions. Your body needs protein for cellular growth, repair, and maintenance. Protein, itself, is made up of a chain of smaller units called amino acids. Amino acids are divided into two subcategories: essential and non-essential amino acids. Your body is able to make all the non-essential amino acids it needs, but it cannot make the essential amino acids it needs. As a result, you must obtain the essential amino acids your body needs from your diet to supply your body with all the protein it needs to carry out its essential functions.

Hair is made up of a dead structural protein called keratin. When you do not consume adequate protein, your body stops hair growth or produces very low quality, dull, and brittle hair to preserve protein for more important physiological functions. As a result, you will suffer considerable hair loss due to protein malnutrition. Fortunately, hair loss caused due to protein malnutrition is temporary and reversible once adequate protein is consumed.

Rich Dietary Sources of Protein

To promote optimal hair health and growth, you must consume enough protein through your diet. The recommended daily intake of protein for optimal health is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy are rich sources of high-quality protein. Vegetarians and vegans are at an increased risk of suffering from hair loss as their diets eliminate traditional sources of protein from their food plan.

If you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you must ensure that your protein consumption is sufficient to satisfy your body’s needs. There are plenty of plant-based complete proteins that you can consume to satisfy your body’s daily protein requirements. Rich plant sources of complete proteins include soybeans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, spirulina, and buckwheat. While it is better to obtain protein from your diet, you can supplement your diet with additional protein by consuming a vegetarian or vegan-friendly protein supplement to increase your daily protein intake.

Iron Deficiency

Plenty of scientific research over many decades has found that iron deficiency triggers hair loss. Iron is one of the most critical micronutrients your body needs to keep you alive. Your body needs iron in sufficient quantities to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a metalloprotein substance inside your red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your body.

When your iron intake is inadequate, your body makes less hemoglobin, which results in less oxygen being transported to your tissues and organs. This condition, known as iron-deficiency anemia, alerts your system of an impending crisis. As a result, your body switches into survival mode to help keep you alive.

In survival mode, your body alters all its regular and normal functioning and rearranges its priorities to maximize your chances of survivability. Hair is a non-essential tissue; it does not contribute to enhancing your survivability. As a result, your hair is the first tissue that will suffer the consequence of iron deficiency.

Your body will allocate oxygen and other critical nutrients to your vital organs and deprive them of your hair follicles to help you stay alive during this physiological predicament. As a result, you will suffer extensive hair loss as your hair follicles are deprived of crucial nutrients.

Fortunately, hair loss triggered due to iron deficiency is temporary and reversible once the condition is treated. To reverse your hair loss, you must increase your iron intake to increase hemoglobin production, so all your tissues and organs can receive sufficient oxygen.

The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for menstruating women, 27 mg for pregnant women, 10 mg for breastfeeding women, 8 mg for menopausal women, and 8 mg for adult men. Iron-rich foods include liver, beef, lamb, lentils, tofu, and dried apricots. You can further increase your iron intake by consuming an iron supplement. Make sure your iron supplement contains vitamin C to help maximize your body’s iron absorption.

Iodine Deficiency

Iodine is an essential micronutrient your body needs to promote optimal thyroid function. It is responsible for producing thyroid hormones, which promote cellular repair and growth and regulate your metabolism. Iodine is critical for hair health and growth as it regulates the maintenance and rejuvenation of your hair follicles.

Insufficient intake of iodine causes less thyroid hormone production, leading to hypothyroidism, which is insufficient thyroid function. Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss, as the follicular maintenance and renewal process is disrupted. Hair loss caused due to iodine deficiency is reversible once you consume iodine in adequate quantities. The recommended daily intake of iodine is 150 micrograms for adult men and women. Iodine is found in seafood, seaweed, and iodized salt.

Vitamin Toxicity

Vitamins are crucial micronutrients that play an important role in the health of your hair. Taken in sufficient quantities, these micronutrients play a significant role in cellular turnover, normal hair follicle development, and maintaining and promoting the hair growth cycle. While vitamin deficiency can adversely impact the health of your hair, an overload of certain vitamins leads to system toxicity, triggering sudden hair loss.

Excessive consumption of certain types of vitamins can cause physiological system toxicity, shocking your system and, consequently, causing severe hair loss. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C, are dissolved in your bodily fluids. Excessive intake of water-soluble vitamins is excreted from your body through your urine. As a result, there is no risk of system toxicity from consuming an excessive quantity of water-soluble vitamins. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins can build up in your body and cause system toxicity.

Fat-Soluble Vitamin Toxicity

Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, are not excreted from your body like water-soluble vitamins. A buildup of fat-soluble vitamins in your body leads to vitamin overdose, and consequently, system toxicity. Vitamin overdose is when you consume the vitamin more than its recommended dosage for an extended period of time. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues. An excess intake of fat-soluble vitamins over an extended period of time can build up in your body and can be toxic to your health.

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Research has shown that consuming vitamin A more than its recommended dosage can be toxic to your health and cause severe hair loss. Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble micronutrients that play a vital role in vision health, cellular growth and division, and promoting a healthy immune system.

Vitamin A consists of retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. When you exceed the recommended dosage, excess vitamin A builds up in your body, leading to a condition called hypervitaminosis A. Hypervitaminosis A is vitamin A toxicity, which has several harmful effects on your body. Some adverse effects of hypervitaminosis A are blurred vision, bone inflammation and pain, alterations in your consciousness, and extensive hair loss.

Excessive consumption of vitamin E also causes vitamin E buildup in your body, leading to a condition called hypervitaminosis E, which can also cause hair loss. Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant which consists of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.

Vitamin E’s powerful antioxidant capabilities protect your cells from harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage to keep your cells healthier for longer. An overload of vitamin E in your system can result in vitamin E toxicity, which decreases thyroid hormone production, leading to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes hair loss as it disrupts and inhibits follicular maintenance and rejuvenation.

To prevent vitamin toxicity, make sure you are not consuming fat-soluble vitamins more than its recommended daily dosage. The recommended daily intake of vitamin A is 900 micrograms for adult men and 700 micrograms for adult women. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E for adult men and women is 15 milligrams or 22.5 international units per day. If you are afflicted with vitamin toxicity, stop taking the vitamin supplement. Your condition will improve within a few weeks of stopping your vitamin supplement intake.

Medications

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Many medications prescribed to treat a condition or illness can have several side effects, such as triggering severe hair loss. Some medications trigger hair loss via disrupting your normal hair growth cycle, triggering anagen effluvium, or telogen effluvium. The most common cause of drug-induced hair loss is telogen effluvium, which is stress-related hair loss.

Some types of medications shock and exert severe stress on your body, triggering extensive hair loss. When your body is subjected to shock or severe stress, it forces most of your hair from the active growth phase to the resting phase, where your hair will shed and fall out. Drug-induced hair loss can make you lose 50% to 70% of your hair, and can occur within two to four months of consuming a new medication.

Anagen effluvium is another, although less common cause of drug-induced hair loss. Anagen effluvium is hair loss that occurs during the active growth cycle, preventing the cells that promote hair growth from dividing normally. As a result, the hair fibers narrow and weaken in their base inside the hair follicle, causing them to break off once they reach your scalp.

Anagen effluvium can occur within weeks of starting a new medication or medical treatment, causing extensive hair loss within a short period of time. This type of hair loss is common in patients receiving chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment. Patients undergoing chemotherapy can use hypothermia caps during the procedure to minimize hair loss resulting from the treatment.

Fortunately, drug-induced hair loss is temporary and reversible. Your hair will regrow normally within three to six months of stopping the medical treatment or intake of the medication.

Hormones

Hormonal changes occurring following childbirth, during menopause, or while taking birth control pills can also trigger hair loss. The female sex hormone Estrogen contributes to thickening your hair. Estrogen keeps more hair follicles in the active growth phase and reduces the number of hair follicles in the resting phase. As a result, when you have high estrogen levels in your system, you experience less hair shedding, making your hair thicker and longer.

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When you are pregnant, your serum estrogen levels are higher than normal, which minimizes hair shedding and contributes to thickening your hair during your pregnancy. After childbirth, your estrogen levels will drop back to normal. Consequently, you will experience extensive hair shedding. This condition is called postpartum alopecia. Generally, you will notice hair thinning in your hairline and temple area. This hair loss is temporary and reversible. Your normal hair growth cycle will resume within six to twelve months of childbirth.

Menopause also causes hair thinning due to reduced estrogen levels in your body. When your aged ovaries fail to produce sufficient amounts of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, you will hit menopause. Estrogen signals your hair to remain in the growth phase longer, leading to fuller, thicker, and longer hair. When your estrogen levels drop due to menopause, more hair will enter the resting phase, causing increased hair shedding. Menopausal women experience diffuse hair loss all over their scalp. To reduce hair loss due to menopause, you can take hormone replacement therapy to return your estrogen levels to pre-menopausal levels.

Hair loss can also occur when you are consuming birth control pills, or after you stop taking them. Birth control pills with a high androgen index can make you lose your hair. Androgens are male sex hormones that are produced from your ovaries in small quantities to maintain your bone density and promote a healthy reproductive system. Androgens also trigger increased hair shedding as they harm your hair follicles. If you are experiencing hair loss on your birth control pills, you must consult with your OB-GYN to obtain new birth control pills with a lower androgen index.

You can also experience hair loss after you stop taking birth control pills. Many birth control pills increase your estrogen levels to help you prevent pregnancy. While taking these pills, the estrogen keeps more hair follicles in the active growth phase and reduces the number of hair follicles in the resting phase. As a result, your hair becomes longer and thicker while you are consuming these pills. When you stop taking these pills, your estrogen levels will drop back to normal, resulting in increased hair shedding. The hair shedding is temporary and reversible. Your normal hair growth cycle will resume after six months of stopping the consumption of birth control pills.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that triggers hair loss. The hair loss appears as circular coin-sized bald patches on your scalp. It can occur suddenly, developing within a few days to a few weeks. The condition occurs due to the white blood cells of your immune system attacking your hair follicles, shrinking your hair follicles, and inhibiting your hair follicles from producing new hair cells. The cause of alopecia areata is unclear, though if you have a family history of alopecia areata, you are more likely to also be afflicted with alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata causes inflammation of your hair follicles but does not permanently damage your hair follicles. Treatment for alopecia areata involves anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs to reduce hair follicular inflammation and suppress your immune system to inhibit it from attacking your hair follicles. Treatment can help reduce the severity of the condition, but it cannot cure the condition or prevent the formation of new bald patches. The condition often resolves within a few months.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a form of gradual hair loss resulting from an external and chronic force pulling on your hair. Repetitive pulling of your hair with considerable force can weaken your hair in its follicle, causing the hair to loosen and fall out. The pulling force applied on your hair can also irreversibly harm and damage your hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss.

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Traction alopecia results from hairstyles that pull on your hair with significant force. Hairstyles that forcefully pull on your hair include tight ponytails, pigtails, braids, hair extensions, and hair weaves. These hairstyles can cause hair loss on your hairline, temples, and sides of your head. With hair extensions, you can lose hair on the areas of your scalp where you have attached the hair extensions to your hair.

Hair loss caused due to traction alopecia is often temporary and reversible, but some forms of traction alopecia cause permanent damage to your hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss. There is no pharmaceutical treatment for traction alopecia. Reversing hair loss caused by traction alopecia requires you to stop wearing hairstyles that pull on your hair. For more severe cases of traction alopecia which have caused hair follicular damage, the condition is not reversible and leads to permanent hair loss. Treatment for severe traction alopecia is surgical hair restoration.

Diagnosis

Most types of hair loss, excluding age-related and hereditary hair loss, have an underlying medical cause. If you notice your hair shedding more than its normal rate, you must consult with a dermatologist as soon as possible to identify the cause of your hair loss. Your dermatologist will conduct several clinical and laboratory tests to determine the underlying cause of your abnormal hair shedding. Some of the tests that are conducted to determine the cause of your hair loss are:

  • Hormonal test – Your dermatologist might conduct a hormonal test to analyze your serum hormone levels to determine whether your hair loss is triggered due to a hormonal imbalance.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) – Your dermatologist might order a CBC test to check your hemoglobin, iron, and ferritin levels to determine whether your hair loss is caused by iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Hair pull test – The hair pull test is conducted to determine whether you are suffering from diffuse hair loss. A group of 40 to 60 hairs will be gently tugged from three different regions of your scalp. The hairs will then be counted and analyzed under a microscope. If more than 10 hairs are pulled out from each region, you will test positive for diffuse hair loss.
  • Scalp biopsy – A tiny piece of your scalp, about 4 mm in diameter, is surgically removed from the bald areas of your head and analyzed under a microscope to determine the cause of your hair loss.

For both men and women, a head full of thick hair is an indication of youth, health, and general wellbeing. For most people though, preserving the luscious hair they had in their youth is an impossible mission. As you age, your hair follicles age with you, becoming more and more dysfunctional over time, thinning your thick luscious mane with age.

Other than the inevitable aging process, your genes, hormones, illnesses, medicines, and nutrition can also play a crucial role in the health and growth of your hair. While age and genetic-related hair loss are unavoidable, you can keep your hair in its best condition possible by treating your hair delicately, watching your overall health, and consulting with a physician whenever you notice any unusual changes with your hair.

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