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Hair loss

  • Overview


    Hair loss, alopecia, can occur on your scalp or throughout your entire body. It can be a temporary or permanent condition caused by genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or a natural part of ageing. Although hair loss can happen to anyone, it is more commonly experienced by men.

    Baldness specifically refers to significant hair loss on the scalp. The most common cause of baldness is hereditary hair loss that occurs with age. Some individuals embrace their hair loss and do not take any action to conceal it. Others may use various methods such as hairstyles, makeup, hats, or scarves to cover it up. Alternatively, some people opt for hair loss treatments to prevent further hair loss or stimulate new hair growth.

    If you are considering hair loss treatment, you must first consult with your doctor to determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and explore potential treatment options.

  • Symptoms


    Hair loss can take various forms depending on the underlying cause. It may occur suddenly or gradually, affecting specific areas or the entire body. Common signs and symptoms of hair loss include gradual thinning on the top of the head, which is most prevalent in ageing individuals. Men may experience hair receding at the hairline on the forehead, while women often notice a broadening of the part in their hair. Frontal fibrosing alopecia is a typical hair loss pattern in older women that results in a receding hairline. Circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard, or eyebrows may also occur, and the skin may become itchy or painful before hair loss. Physical or emotional shock can cause sudden hair loosening, resulting in temporary hair thinning. Full-body hair loss may also occur due to certain medical conditions or treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, but the hair usually grows back. Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp may indicate a ringworm infection characterised by broken hair, redness, swelling, and sometimes oozing.

  • When to see a doctor


    If you or your child are experiencing persistent hair loss and it is causing distress, it is recommended to consult with a doctor to explore potential treatment options. For women sharing a receding hairline, also known as frontal fibrosing alopecia, it is essential to speak with a doctor about early treatment to prevent permanent baldness.

    In addition, it is essential to seek medical advice if you notice sudden or patchy hair loss or experience more hair loss than usual while combing or washing your or your child’s hair. Sudden hair loss could indicate an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

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  • Causes


    Hair loss is a natural occurrence where people lose between 50 to 100 hairs daily, but this isn’t noticeable as new hair grows simultaneously. However, hair loss occurs when new hair doesn’t replace the hair that has fallen out. There are several factors that contribute to hair loss, including genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications and supplements, radiation therapy, and stressful events.

    Genetics is the most common cause of hair loss, which happens gradually with ageing, called androgenic alopecia, male-pattern baldness, and female-pattern baldness. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid problems can cause temporary or permanent hair loss and medical conditions like alopecia areata, scalp infections, and trichotillomania. Certain drugs used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure can also cause hair loss. Radiation therapy to the head can make hair grow back differently, and excessive hairstyling or hairstyles like pigtails or cornrows can cause traction alopecia. Hot-oil hair treatments and permanents can cause hair to fall out, and hair loss may become permanent if there is scarring. Hair thinning is standard several months after a physical or emotional shock, but it is temporary.

  • Risk factors


    Several factors might contribute to hair loss, including a family history of balding on either your mother’s or father’s side, age, significant weight loss, certain medical conditions such as diabetes and lupus, stress, and poor nutrition.

  • Prevention


    Many cases of baldness are due to genetics, specifically male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. Unfortunately, this type of hair loss cannot be prevented.

    However, you can take steps to avoid preventable types of hair loss. Be gentle with your hair, using a detangler and avoiding tugging when brushing or combing, especially when wet. A wide-toothed comb is an excellent option to prevent hair from being pulled out. Additionally, it is best to avoid harsh treatments such as hot rollers, curling irons, hot-oil treatments, and permanents, as well as styles that use rubber bands, barrettes, and braids, which can create tension on the hair.

    If you suspect that medications or supplements you are taking might be causing hair loss, consult your doctor. It is also a good idea to protect your hair from sunlight and other ultraviolet light sources and quit smoking, as some studies show a link between smoking and baldness in men.

    Finally, if you are undergoing chemotherapy, consider asking your doctor about a cooling cap which can help reduce the risk of hair loss during treatment.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 14/08/2023