While most people shed around 50 to 100 hairs per day, they also grow about the same number of hairs. Consequently, their scalp hair doesn’t get any thinner. They still have about the same amount of hair.
Hair loss, as the name suggests, occurs when somebody loses more hair than their body is replacing. It happens either when hair follicles are destroyed and replaced with scar tissue or when something disrupts the normal cycle of growth and shedding.
What Causes Hair Loss?
This condition has multiple causes, and it can be hard to determine the exact cause in a given case. Hair loss is often caused by certain medications or medical conditions. It can also run in families or be caused by hormonal changes.
The most common cause is a hereditary condition called androgenic alopecia that causes male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness causes about 95 percent of hair loss in men. Two-thirds of American men are already starting to lose their hair by the age of 35, and around 85 percent have noticeably thinning hair by the time they’re 50. About 25 percent of men with male-pattern baldness begin losing their hair when they’re 21!
Androgenic alopecia does indeed have a set pattern. A receding, M-shaped hairline is an early sign in men. Later, the man starts to lose the hair on the top of his head. Eventually, the only hair left forms a horseshoe shape around the sides and back of the head.
Androgenic alopecia is also the most common cause of hair loss in women and affects about one-third of them. While it can start as early as puberty, it usually starts during menopause. Again, there’s a set pattern, with the hair loss starting on the top of the head and eventually going down the sides.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is a condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles. While it can affect anybody, it is most common in people under 20 years old. It affects boys and girls equally.
In alopecia areata, the patient’s hair falls out in clumps and leaves round and smooth bald patches on the patient’s head. The hair loss comes and goes with hair growing back in one area and falling out in another. New hair may look like the original hair, or it may be white and fine.
Sometimes, the hair will simply become thinner without any accompanying baldness, or the hair may break off, leaving short stubs sometimes called “exclamation point” hair. In rare cases, the patient loses all of their body and scalp hair.
In ten percent of the cases of alopecia areata, the hair loss is permanent. This is most likely to be the case in people who have another autoimmune disorder, have lots of allergies, lost a lot of hair, have relatives with alopecia areata, developed the condition before puberty and/or developed abnormalities of the fingernails or toenails.
Hormonal problems can also cause hair loss. Many women lose hair during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as after menopause. The thyroid gland produces a number of hormones, and problems with the thyroid can also cause the condition.
Infections of the scalp, like ringworm, can temporarily cause hair loss. The hair usually grows back after the infection is treated.
At Doctor’s Approach, our team of medical professionals can help you determine the cause of your hair loss, and then come up with a treatment plan, designed for you. We have locations in Okemos, Carson City and St. Johns. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.