Hair Loss: Early Signs, Causes, And Solutions
Alopecia, also known as hair loss, is a common occurrence. While hair loss is most common in adults, it can affect anyone of any age or gender, depending on their genetics, lifestyle, and living conditions.
It is normal to lose 60-100 hair strands per day, and this minor amount is unnoticeable because it is replaced by new hair growth. In most cases, little hair loss goes unnoticed and requires no additional treatment.
However, if excessive amounts of hair fall on a regular basis, it can result in unfavorable outcomes such as baldness, bald patches, or hair thinning.
Many successfully deal with temporary or permanent hair loss by determining the underlying cause and selecting the appropriate treatment.
Are you unsure whether your hair loss is normal or abnormal? Please read our comprehensive guide, which will educate you on all aspects of hair fall and its solutions.
Multitudes of causes may lead to hair fall of varying degrees. The following selected few are the prime and traditional causes of ordinary to severe hair loss.
Genealogical Hair Loss
Your inherited genes are majorly responsible for genealogical hair loss. The medical term for this genetic hair loss is referred to as Androgenetic Alopecia. It’s the universal cause of hair loss, affecting an average of up to 50 percent of people. In men, this development is called male pattern hair loss, while in females, it is called female pattern hair loss.
Shrinkage of the hair follicles forces the scalp to stop growing hair. The first noticeable sign of genetic hair loss in females is the widening of the hair part. Similarly, males tend to showcase a receding hairline or bald spot at the top of the head.
Alopecia areata is a hair fall condition that develops mistakenly when the body’s immune system starts to attack the hair follicles. These attacks cause inflammation which causes hair loss, resulting in bold bald patches.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), it affects roughly 6.8 million people in the U.S.A, with a lifetime risk of 2.1%. Alopecia Areata can make individuals lose hair from any body part, including their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, nose, and ear hair.
Age is yet another significant factor that can cause hair fall in the later stages of life. Since the hair growth slows down, people start noticing hair thinning which may turn into bald spots. Additionally, the hair begins to lose its color, making it look paler and highlighting the thin strands.
Stress is undoubtedly one of the most significant reasons for stress-induced hair fall called Telogen Effluvium. If you’re progressing through a comparatively stressful time of your life, chances are you may start noticing medium to severe hair fall.
In addition, a hectic lifestyle can lead to hair fall as the body begins to overproduce cortisol, i.e., the stress hormone. Unwanted emotional stress can also be linked to more severe hair loss issues. Even new mothers who underwent childbirth exhibit extra hair loss compared to their average quantity. However, if treated on time, you can reverse this type of hair fall because of its temporary nature.
If you are receiving chemotherapy or have had any radiation therapy on your neck or head, you may lose most or all of your hair. The hair loss usually initiates within a few months after starting your chemotherapy.
Any scalp infection of varying degrees can result in hair loss. Usually, such conditions lead to inflamed areas with black dots on the scalp. These stubs of hair later suffer damage and halt their growth. Many people even develop a bald spot that may stay with them forever if left untreated.
Females suffering from PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome usually suffer from hair loss because of hormonal imbalance. The most common symptoms in women undergoing PCOS include hair thinning and graying.
Similarly, when Androgens in men become active during puberty, it may cause significant variance in the male hormones causing hair loss. Lastly, even stopping or starting birth control pills can cause hair fall as it triggers a substantial hormonal imbalance in females.
Many medications have a common side effect of hair loss. Some medicines can be too strong for the body to handle, which may exhibit hair fall as an outcome. The most common medication that may cause side effects is steroids.
Likewise, the consumption of oral contraceptive pills can cause significant hair loss in females. If you have noticed an outbreak of hair loss soon after starting a new medication, we recommend contacting the healthcare professionals that prescribed the said medication. Also, stopping the medicines abruptly without consulting your doctor should be avoided.
The prime symptom of Alopecia is losing more hair than average hair fall. These signs may appear gradually, while in some cases, they can be abrupt.
The time frame of these symptoms usually depends on the severity of the cause and your body’s ability to tackle it. The signs can be very direct or subtle, factoring in your noticing period or the severity. The following are the most common and early signs of hair fall:
Some early signs of hair loss include a receding hairline, bald spots, and more. Let’s go over them one by one.
As soon as you notice clogged sinks or shower drains, beware and keep a close eye on the frequency of your hair loss. If you see a considerable rise in the number of fallen hair, try to look for preventative methods to handle it before it worsens.
Bald spots usually start as gradual thinning, so individuals noticing a gradual thinning of their overall hair should look out for bald spots. Moreover, even the size of such marks can grow with time and cause a considerably big patch.
A receding hairline is a slower sign, however important nonetheless. Generally, your receding hairline tends to become highly visible every year. However, if you start noticing a quicker pace of this receding hairline, it can be a significant sign of hair loss.
The widening part is the earliest sign seen in females compared to males. Given the thickness of your hair, you shall start seeing a wider part after combing your hair. Similarly, even thinner ponytails can be a massive sign of hair fall. If the size of your ponytail is lighter than your average size, try to keep a close eye on the hair fall density.
Apart from the early signs, you may even notice several advanced hair signs that are more related to the scalp or the overall health of your hair. Similar to early indications, even these advanced signs can occur amongst individuals of any age.
Sharp Decline In Body Hair
A sharp decline in the body hair can be a main wake-up call for hair loss treatment. During these times, your body tends to shed off eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hairs, body hair, and even beards.
Itching Or Stinging
People going through Alopecia Areata usually experience a stinging or burning sensation around the scalp before sudden hair loss. Likewise, if you have an underlying skin condition, it can cause itching or pain on your scalp. Sometimes, individuals feel a sensitive tenderness because of an infection, resulting in severe hair loss. A steep hair loss journey starts soon after you experience these itching or burning sensations.
Redness Or Scaly Patches
Folliculitis Decalvans cause swelling and redness which may itch, making you comfortable. Furthermore, these itches may develop into scaly patches because of the fungal infection. People with psoriasis may undergo a scaly scalp followed by a temporary hair loss.
Types Of Hair Loss
In addition to Alopecia Areata and Androgenetic Alopecia, several main hair loss types have distinct symptoms. The following are some of the main types of hair loss:
Telogen Effluvium – exhibited when individuals encounter significant stressors
- Hair thinning
- Considerable bald patches
- Increased shedding
- Slow hair growth
Traction Alopecia – occurs when the hair shaft receives strain or physical pressure.
- Irregular hair loss
- Hair loss near temples
- Receding hairline
- Frizzy hair around said receding hairline
Alopecia Universalis – the most extreme Alopecia that is relatively rare of them all.
- Total hair loss
- Deficit of body hair
- May cause genetic mutation
- Distorts nail and nail beds
Alopecia Cicatrisata – known as Pseudopelade, showcases huge patchy spots.
- Bald patches within the hair
- Well-defined spots
Trichotillomania – self-inflicted hair loss caused by pulling.
- Nervous or anxious behavior
- Constant tugs on the hair
- Bald patches
Follicular Degeneration Syndrome – a type of scarring alopecia caused by hair damage due to heat.
- Hair loss from scalp vertex
- Diffused hair loss patches
- Patches that turn into big bald spots
Alopecia Totalis – an autoimmune health condition.
- Brittle nails
- Total hair loss
- Falling of eyelashes or eyebrows
Quick List Of Risk Factors
The following risk factors may increase the chances of hair loss in individuals of all ages. Kindly note that the following list of risks is not exhaustive; likewise, you may undergo a hair fall cycle because of numerous other factors.
- A family history of balding
- Significant weight loss in less time
- Poor immune system
- Diet deficiencies
- Medical conditions ( lupus, diabetes )
- Thyroid Problems
- Physical trauma
- Heat damage
- Autoimmune diseases
On average, the type of hair loss dictates the treatment or therapy. For instance, if you’re experiencing hair fall soon after starting a new medication, your healthcare provider might change the medicine to stop the side effects.
However, sometimes finding a quick solution is out of the question. During such difficult times, individuals need to take the aid of hair fall solutions available on the market.
Topical agents are some of the most easily accessible medications for hair fall. You are expected to lather and rub these medications into your scalp to initiate stunted hair growth. You can find many topical agents available as over-the-counter or prescribed medications. These agents are usually available in creams, gels, foams, and liquid solutions.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is another OTC topical medication that showcases impressive results. Most people experiencing itching or burning sensations are prescribed corticosteroids while treating autoimmune diseases.
These corticosteroid creams decrease the inflammation in and near the hair follicle to release some stress caused by the itching. Chemicals like Diphencyprone are used for topical immunotherapy, wherein the patient is required to apply the drug on the scalp for an allergic reaction. This particular reaction may shock the hair causing a spur of new growth over the months.
Oral Multivitamin Treatments
Oral multivitamin supplements work on a fundamental principle of meeting the body’s needs of absent nutrients and vitamins. A review published in 2019 states that various micronutrients play a crucial role in the normal development of follicle health.
Similarly, deficiencies like micronutrients may pose a risk factor associated with Alopecia. Vitamins like Vitamin A, B, C, E, and minerals like Iron, Zinc are some of the essentials necessary for proper growth. Multivitamin hair loss supplements like Folexin thus come in handy to cure hair loss caused by nutrient deficiencies.
Folexin is an OTC supplement that is purely a natural treatment with a chemical-free formula. This supplement is straightforward and can be easily incorporated into your daily regimen. You can read our detailed Folexin review that dissects and studies the supplement’s efficacy.
However, it is a responsible step to consider taking your health care provider’s advice before starting any oral supplement treatment. Similarly, you must consider investing in capsules that a third company has vetted for safety reasons.
Another method is relying on oral immunosuppressants like Cyclosporine or Methotrexate that work by typically blocking the immune system’s response. Prolonged use of immunosuppressants may risk side effects like kidney and liver damage.
Apart from topical and oral solutions, people rely hugely on medical procedures to help keep their hair luscious and flowing. The most common practice is hair transplant surgery, which involves removing and re-plugging hair from the back of your head to the affected spots.
Sometimes, you might even need multiple procedures over time for the desired effect. Scalp reduction is another operation wherein your surgeon shall replace a bald part of your scalp with a chunk that already has a healthy growth of hair strands.
Similarly, individuals have options like steroid injections, light treatment, artificial hair transplant, immunotherapy, or tattooing. The only downside of these medical procedures is the sheer invasiveness of the entire operation and the cost of the treatment.
Sometimes, the most effective way to cure any disease is to prevent it. The following tips may help you regulate and resolve all the preventable types of hair fall without significant loss.
The first step is to be extremely gentle with your mane. Pulling and tugging can irritate the scalp further, resulting in hair loss. Kindly use a detangler on wet hair strands if you have a bulge of tangled hair every morning. Similarly, a wide-toothed comb effectively discourages the pulling of the hair.
Forgo harsh treatments like curling, straightening, perming, bleaching, hair coloring, or hot oil treatments on your hair. These heat-based treatments highly damage the hair by making it dry and damaging the follicles with excessive heat. Limit uses of rubber bands or hairstyles like braids, cornrows, and pigtails, which usually pull or tug your hair. These hairstyles may end up causing traction alopecia amongst individuals with constantly tug-inducing hairstyles.
Apply a leave-in conditioner or invest in a good quality detangler serum for your after-wash cycle. Opt for a microfiber hair towel instead of a hair dryer to dry your hair when possible. If you are obliged to use a hair dryer, choose the lowest heat setting for minimum damage.
People undergoing chemotherapy should ask their doctors for a befitting cooing cap. These caps do not guarantee results but can reduce or delay hair fall risk during therapy. If you have a habit of twisting or pulling your hair, make efforts to stop it, as such tugs can weaken the fragile hair causing bald spots in no time.
Healthy Intake Choices
Consuming very few calories daily for a prolonged time can cause significant hair loss. Instead of eating a few items with heavy calories, try to incorporate various food groups with limited calories. Vegetables and fruits can be an excellent source of nutrition without the risk of gaining extra weight.
Pay Attention To Ongoing Medications
Pay close attention to the current medications formulas and seize to intake the ones that may cause potential hair loss. Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe medicines proven to have a low chance of hair loss.
If you smoke regularly, consider stopping the practice to keep your hair healthy and fuller. Over the past few decades, numerous hair fall-based studies have found an association between smoking and early onset baldness. In addition, smoking causes inflammation throughout the body, which adds to the condition and increases the chances of hair loss.
Losing your hair, whether young or old, can lower your self-esteem. Knowing all of the potential risk factors will help you stay sharp in detecting these hair loss issues.
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, consider devoting time to determining the root cause of the problem, followed by any necessary solutions. Finally, don’t dismiss preventative measures because they can help you maintain a full head of thick and full hair.