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What Causes Hair Loss?

Did you know that most people lose between 75 to 100 strands of hair per day? For the millions of Americans suffering from an advanced stage of hair loss (also known as alopecia), that number can climb much higher.

It’s an important question: what causes hair loss, and how can you stop it?

If you want a full head of hair, you need to learn more about why you might be losing it to find out how to regrow or stop the progression of hair loss. In this article, we’ll delve into the various types of hair loss, along with hair loss causes and treatment options.

What are the Types of Hair Loss?

Men and women suffer from dozens of types of hair loss, each with a different cause or combination of causes. Some of the types of hair loss include:

Androgenic alopecia - This is the most common type of hair loss. At least 50 million men and 30 million women in the US suffer from androgenic alopecia. It’s also commonly known by the terms “male pattern baldness” and “female pattern baldness.” It often results in the U-shaped hair pattern commonly seen in balding individuals. The condition is hereditary, but it can be managed with treatment. 

Anagen effluvium - This is the type of hair loss often associated with chemotherapy treatment for hair loss. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also halts production of hair. Normally the hair regrows on its own, but if not, it can usually be helped back to full hair growth by additional treatment. 

Telogen effluvium - Normally our hair growth occurs in cycles. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when many follicles on scalp enter a resting phase and the next phase doesn’t begin. This disruption to your hair cycle is often triggered by an event, like stress, illness, childbirth, extreme weight loss, illness, or surgery. 

Alopecia areata - This is an autoimmune condition, which means the body’s immune system mistakes healthy components as threats and attacks them. In this case, the body attacks the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out without warning. Alopecia areata can eventually lead to complete hair loss, but it can be treated by medication. 

The cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but it does tend to occur alongside other autoimmune issues like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disease. It also frequently affects multiple family members, suggesting a hereditary element. 

Some specific types of alopecia areata include:

  • Ophoiasis, a type of alopecia areata where hair loss occurs in wave-like shape around the head

  • Alopecia totalis, in which hair loss occurs on the head

  • Alopecia universalis, which involves total hair loss all over the body. 

Tinea capitis - Also known as scalp ringworm, tinea capitis is a fungal Infection of the scalp that mostly affects children. For affected children, it’s common for them to lose hair in patches. It’s red and scaly in appearance, and it can be itchy. It might produce blisters, sores, and/or pus. An antifungal medication taken by mouth can help eliminate the fungus. Fortunately, tinea capitis is not a serious threat if caught and treated early. 

Trichorrhexis nodosa - This condition involves a defect in hair fiber. It causes fraying and swelling of nodes due to a lack of a cuticle layer. 

Folliculitis - This is a bacterial infection that irritates hair follicles. It can result in inflammatory nodules that encircles strands of hair.

Cicatricial alopecia - This type of alopecia is also known as scarring alopecia. It causes inflammation, which destroys hair follicles, resulting in scar tissue. Hair will no longer grow where this scar tissue forms. The sensation feels rash-like, including itching and swelling. 

Hair shaft abnormalities -  In these types of hair loss, there is no problem with the follicle itself. Instead, there’s a break somewhere in the visible part of a hair strand (the shaft), which causes hair thinning and the creation of small, brittle hairs. Specific types include:

  • Loose anagen syndrome: This occurs when the hair isn’t firmly rooted in a follicle and can be pulled out easily. People with the condition often need to keep their hair cut short. It is common with girls who have brown and blond hair, and in some cases, it might fall out overnight. While the cause is unknown, it tends to get better with puberty/medication.

  • Trichotillomania: This is caused by a compulsion to pull hair out, leading to patchiness. This is best treated with psychotherapy. 

  • Traction alopecia: This occurs when force pulls the hair out of the scalp, usually via extremely tight braids or pigtails. One subtype, chignon alopecia, involves hair loss at the crown of head where it’s been styled in a tight bundle for a long time. This is common with ballet dancers.

Hypotrichosis: This is a genetic condition where very little hair grows on the body. People with this condition may have typical amounts of hair growing up but then become completely bald by 25. 

Common Causes of Hair Loss

So what makes a person’s hair fall out? Why does hair loss occur?

As shown above, hair loss is an intricate and complex topic, with many causes and symptoms. 

Sometimes, there is no specific trigger. Many people experience a mild thinning of their hair in their 30s and 40s. Other causes of hair loss include:

  • Age

  • Genetic factors (conditions like androgenic alopecia are hereditary)

  • A major shock to the hair growth cycle, such as:

    • Childbirth

    • Stress

    • Emotional trauma

    • Weight loss

    • Illness or fevel

    • Surgery

  • Fungus (ex. tinea capitis)

  • Poor nutrition and limited food intake

  • Thyroid problems

  • Anemia and iron deficiency

  • Protein deficiency

  • Scar tissue preventing hair growth

  • Certain styling techniques and hair products, such as:

    • Blow dryers
    • Curling irons

    • Oils

    • Gels 

    • Pomades

  • Secondary syphilis

  • Cancer treatments

  • Tight hairstyles putting too much stress on hair

Available Treatments for Hair Loss Regeneration

Two of the most common hair loss treatments are Minoxidil and Finasteride. They are more commonly known by the names of Rogaine and Propecia. 

Minoxidil, a.k.a. Rogaine, is a topical solution that the user must keep applying. While it can result in the growth of new hair, the new hair is often short and thin. Side effects might include scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on adjacent skin, including on the hands and face. Rapid heart rate has also been reported.

Finasteride, more commonly marketed as Propecia, is a prescription drug for men. Users must take pills daily. Primarily, Finasteride slows hair growth, and it could lead to some new growth. Unfortunately it needs to be taken for an extended long time, and it may not work for men over 60. Side effects diminished sex drive, sexual function, possible prostate cancer risk, which make the prospect of taking the drug long term less appealing. It could also cause problems for pregnant women if they handle any crushed tablets. 

While these two treatments can have some success, they are not perfect. Finasteride and Minoxidil only provide short term improvement, and stopping them can cause even more rapid hair loss.

Alternatives to Minoxidil and Finasteride

Looking for Finasteride or Minoxidil alternatives? Thankfully, you have a few to choose from. 

For types of hair loss that are due to dietary and lifestyle factors, a healthier diet may be able to help. Improving the diet and taking a multivitamin that contains zinc, vitamin B, folate, iron, and calcium can help promote healthier hair. 

Hairpieces might work for conceiling thinning or balding hair, and hair fiber powder could also be effective for certain types of baldness. A doctor may also be able to recommend certain forms of medication. 

Hair transplant surgery is an option, but it is not recommended. Not only is it expensive and painful, but it can cause bleeding and scarring, which can prevent hair growth. Those exploring microneedling for hair loss may be turned off by the side effects, namely bruising, redness, scarring, swelling, and painful sensations. 

One promising treatment offered by the Novus Anti-Aging Center involves exosomes. Exosomes are related to stem cells, except smaller, more nimble, and generally more effective for regenerative treatment. They can aid with hair regeneration by repairing damaged cells that are supposed to be helping you grow a healthy, full head of hair. 

To learn more about the hair loss treatments provided by Novus Anti-Aging Center in Los Angeles and Studio City, California, simply fill out the form below. 

While there may be no such thing as a hair regrowth serum, you can find the next best solution by exploring available options.

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