Written by Katherine Barrington, Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach
When you think about hair loss, you probably picture an older man with a bald spot on top of his head. What many people don’t realize, however, is that hair loss affects both men and women – it can also affect people in different ways. Keep reading to learn the basics about different types of hair loss as well as the most common causes and symptoms.
What Are the Different Types of Hair Loss?
Hair loss affects both men and women, but often in different ways. What many people don’t realize is that there are a number of different types of hair loss, each with their own array of symptoms. Here is an overview of some of the most common types of hair loss:
- Androgenic alopecia – Also known as male pattern or female pattern baldness, androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting 50 million men and 30 million women. This type of hair loss is generally hereditary.
- Telogen effluvium – This type of hair loss occurs when a large number of hair follicles enter the resting phase of hair growth and fall out but new growth doesn’t begin. This type of hair loss usually causes hair thinning but doesn’t usually result in complete baldness.
- Alopecia areata – An autoimmune disease, alopecia areata causes the hair to fall out without being replaced and it usually happens in patches.
- Anagen effluvium – This type of hair loss is very rapid and usually results from medical treatments like chemotherapy. After the therapy ends, hair usually grows back.
- Tinea capitis – A type of fungal scalp infection common in children, this type of hair loss causes hair to fall out in patches – the skin may also become scaly and may develop sores.
In order to determine what type of hair loss you are experiencing, you should take note of your symptoms and talk to your doctor. Your symptoms, combined with your family history and various laboratory tests will be used to make a diagnosis and to determine your treatment options.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Hair Loss?
Also known as alopecia, hair loss is caused by the disruption of the natural growth cycle of hair – it can happen anywhere on the body but usually occurs on the head. The human scalp contains around 100,000 individual hairs, all of which go through a specific cycle of growth, rest, and shedding at different intervals. In order to understand the causes of hair loss, you first need to have a basic understanding of the hair growth cycle and its three phases.
The growth phase is the anagen phase during which hairs grow actively – this phase typically lasts for several years. The second phase, the catagen phase, is when the hair stops growing and gradually separates from the follicle over the course of about 10 days. The final phase, the telogen phase, lasts for 2 to 3 months where the hair rests and then eventually falls out. Once the follicle is empty, the anagen phase starts up against and new hair begins to grow from the empty follicle.
The primary cause of hair loss is a disruption in the growth cycle of the hair, though this can be caused by any number of things. If the hair follicle becomes damaged, the hair may stop growing or it may fall out more quickly than it can be regenerated. Genetic factors may lead to hair loss in some people, or it could be the result of an underlying medical problem.
Here are some of the top causes of hair loss:
- Physical stress
- Too much vitamin A in the diet
- Male pattern baldness
- Hereditary factors
- Lack of protein in the diet
- Anemia (low iron in the blood)
- Deficiency of Vitamin B
- Autoimmune disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Certain medications
- Steroid use
Different types of hair loss have different causes – they also have different symptoms. Below are the most common symptoms of hair loss.
What Does Hair Loss Look Like?
Depending on the type of hair loss you have, your symptoms may look different. Here are some of the most common signs of hair loss:
- Gradual thinning on the top of the head. This type of hair loss affects both men and women. Men usually have a receding hairline while women have a widening of the part.
- Patches or circular bald spots. Though this type of hair loss usually occurs on the scalp, it can also happen in beards or eyebrows.
- A sudden loosening of hair. Emotional stress or physical shock can cause large areas of hair to loosen and fall out.
- Full-body hair loss. Certain medical treatments and conditions can cause all of the hair on the body to fall out, though it usually grows back after treatment.
- Scaly patches of skin accompanied by hair loss. This type of hair loss is usually caused by a fungal infection of the scalp.
If you are experiencing hair loss, don’t panic! Hair loss can appear in many different ways and you need to pay attention to your specific symptoms if you want to identify the underlying cause. Before you do anything else, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns and to receive an accurate diagnosis for the type of hair loss you are experiencing and, from there, move on to discussing your options for treatment.
What Are the Symptoms and Causes of Hair Loss
~ Written by Katherine Barrington, Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach