Why am I losing my hair?

Hair loss is a very common problem with many causes. If you are uncertain what is causing your hair loss, it is probably helpful to first consider the most common causes. An absolute determination of the etiology is probably going to require a visit to your physician, but here are some things to consider as you start the process.

The number one cause of hair loss is your genes – so you can blame it on your parents. Hereditary hair loss comes in many forms but is most commonly named male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness. As the name implies, men and women tend to loss hair in distinct patterns that are unique to each sex. Men tend to lose hair in the front and crown, while almost always keeping hair in the back of the head. Women tend to lose hair all over, although more prominently in a diffuse pattern in the front. These patterns are determined by genetics from both the father’s and the mother’s side. Genetics also affects the start, rate and final pattern of hair loss as well, but other factors can affect this too.

Age plays a role in this as well. As we age, some degree of hair loss in natural. Over 50 % of the population will have developed some hair loss by age 50, most of this due to genetics.

Medical causes can affect hair loss and there are tests to determine if these are the cause. The most common are iron deficiency, hormone changes, and thyroid deficiency. If genetics are not the obvious cause, then it is time for a visit to your physician to evaluate for these as well as other possible causes.

Scalp skin conditions are a less common cause of hair loss, but a possibility. When infected, the scalp demonstrates redness and swelling. Obviously medical attention should be sought. Autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory conditions should be considered as they can present in a comparable manner. Common diseases that can affect the skin and precipitate hair loss include scarring disorders such as lichen planus, lupus and sarcoidosis and non-scarring alopecias such as alopecia areata (patches of hairless areas). Evaluation and testing by a physician can determine if one of these are the issue.

Medical treatments such as certain blood thinners or chemotherapy agents, can cause hair loss. Click here to see a complete list of medicinal causes of hair loss. With most of theses treatments, hair will return once the medication has been stopped.

Our lifestyle can affect baldness and this is one area we can modify to reverse the pattern. Increased stress can instigate hair loss and this can be fairly sudden. It typically can last for 1 to 3 months. Fortunately, with time and a reversal of stress levels, hair should be able to recover completely. Diet can also affect hair loss. A balanced diet and supplements such as Biotin can help reverse loss. Finally pulling your back or too tight, excessive straightening or hair dyes can all stimulate hair loss. Again, with reversal of the cause, hair should return with time.

The cause of hair loss is most often obvious when we look at our parents and siblings. If this is not the case, see a physician to determine what your cause of hair loss is.

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