By John C. Anderson Ph.D.
If you are worried about losing your hair, you are not alone. Seeing hair collecting in your brush or in the shower drain is not unusual. In fact, statistics from a number of sources indicate that about 25% of men start to see hair loss as early as 21 with the percentage increasing to 66% by 35 and almost 85% for those 50 and over (American Hair Loss Association). Women are also not immune as almost 40% experiencing hair loss are women, with 50 percent experiencing the problem by the time that they reach 50. Women become particularly concerned about hair loss in their eye brows and eye lashes will for men, the problem is more focused on pattern baldness.
On average, we lose approximately 100 hair follicles per day. The total number of hair follicles on average is between 100,000 and 150,000, so 100 does not seem like many. However, as we age, the rate of growth of new hair also declines, according to WebMD. And with 10% of our hair follicles at rest at any one time combined with slower growth and hair loss, thinning areas will appear to increase in size.
The Causes of Hair Loss
Research and studies by organizations such as the American Hair Loss Association and the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery have identified a wide range of factors that contribute to hair loss. Articles have touted the 21 reasons (health.com), the 10 causes of hair loss in women (prevention.com) and identify the significant causes of hair loss outlined below.
- Heredity and Genes. It has been shown that you are more likely to lose your hair if it is a family trait. It has been said the probability is associated with your mother more that your father. However, research shows that it can be passed down through the DNA of both parents. It is estimated that due to DNA, approximately 30 million women and 50 million men experience hair loss. There has also been a gene isolated that is related to hair loss according to a study by GlaxoSmithKline. With a sample of 1,125 men, an in-depth study of hair loss awareness revealed that 1 in 7 men were more likely to lose their hair as a result of a specific gene.
- Hormones for Both Men and Women. Male pattern baldness has been strongly linked to hormones in men. It turns out that the old adage that bald men are more virile is partly true if measured by testosterone levels. The presence of DHT in the hair follicles can block the growth of new hair. DHT is an androgen and helps give males their male characteristics. DHT is thought to cause hair follicles to miniaturize, and this contributes to male pattern hair loss. Female hormones can also lead to hair loss. This often happens during pregnancy, as a result in changes in birth control and during menopause. These changes can cause telogen effluvium in women, which means that hair growth is in the shedding phase, limiting hair growth.
- Medical Conditions. There are also a series of medical conditions that can contribute to hair loss. These include: anemia, lupus, and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can reduce your metabolism and slow growth in general, including in hair. Alopecia areata is also a result of an overactive immune system, resulting in hair loss. Finally, certain classes of medications can contribute to hair loss including anabolic steroids, blood thinners, lithium, antidepressants and beta blockers for high blood pressure.
- Scientists have also identified a number of issues related to diet that can have an impact on hair loss. These include too little protein, vitamin B deficiencies and too much vitamin A. Most of these conditions are easily treatable. Research has also shown that dramatic weight loss may have an impact on hair loss.
- Emotional Related Causes. Emotional and physical stress have also been associated with hair loss. Severe stress can trigger telogen effluvium, which results in hair going into a shedding phase. This is usually related to a significant traumatic event such as surgery, car accidents, family tragedies or severe illness. Some people also have a nervous disorder called trichotillomania. This is where people will compulsively pull out their hair and often affects the eyebrows and genital area as well as the head.
- Poor Hair Care Practices. Sometimes the hair loss is caused by poor hair care practices. These can range from over stressing the hair with excessive use of hair dryers, pulling the hair too tight in a pony tail, braids and corn rows or using too many hair relaxants or other chemicals to treat the hair.
Understanding the causes of your particular hair loss and identifying the stage of hair loss is very important in developing a treatment plan that can range from addressing the underlying cause (medical or hormonal) to topical or surgical alternatives. The doctors associated with the Capily Institute can help diagnose and treat all forms of hair loss, recommending the best strategy for hair restoration or replacement.