Everyone experiences hair loss to some degree. However, when there is excessive hair loss, that should warrant some attention. There are many reasons for hair loss that is abnormal.
First of all, it is important to remember that hair has a life cycle. This cycle has three phases: the growth phase (anagen), the rest phase (catagen), and the shedding phase (telogen). The average life of a new strand of hair is between two to seven years. When a strand of hair ends its life cycle and falls out, the same hair follicle makes a new hair, and this strand begins a new life cycle. So, on a human head, hair falls out and grows everyday. What can affect this cycle so hair sheds quicker than it grows?
One of the most common reasons is genetics. This gene can from either side of the family. The excessive thinning out of hair may start as early as 20 years of age. Certain skin conditions of the scalp can lead to hair loss. These include psoriasis, fungal infections, and seborrheic dermatitis, commonly known as dandruff. Medicated shampoos are usually prescribed to treat these conditions.
People with a disease of the thyroid can experience excessive hair loss. The thyroid produces a hormone that regulates your heart rate, metabolism and your mood. The right balance of this hormone contributes to the optimal growth of many areas of the body, including hair. Too little of this hormone is called hypothyroidism which can cause hair to become so weak and brittle that it will break off easily. Too much hormone, or hyperthyroidism, will increase your metabolism and may also lead to premature hair loss.
Another reason can be something called telogen effluvium. This is when the hair is prematurely pushed into the shedding phase because the body was going through a period of trauma or extreme stress. The trauma can be an auto accident, surgery, a debilitating illness, and even weight loss. The hair loss does not happen right away. It becomes more apparent after about three to six months after the stressful event. This loss is usually temporary. Once the body recovers fully from the stress, the hair growth should revert back to a normal cycle.
Anemia caused by a deficiency in iron can lead to hair loss. When iron content is low, the blood will not have enough red blood cells. Blood transports oxygen, nutrients and energy to all parts of the body to feed their growth. When hair follicles are not nourished, they will not produce as much hair.
Hair loss can be caused by an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata. This is when the body’s own immune system is damaging the hair follicles. No one knows the exact cause of this disorder, but it may be a byproduct of another illness or trauma.
Because of the wide range of possible reasons for hair loss, only a qualified medical professional would be able to diagnose the reasons behind it. Once the cause is identified, the proper treatment can be prescribed.