Losing hair is a normal part of life, according to the NHS we lose between 50 to 100 hairs a day usually without noticing. Despite this, hair loss can be very upsetting for some and it can happen to anyone. It’s important to speak out about hair loss and break any stigmas.
Reasons for Hair Loss
Hair loss is medically known as alopecia and it can be a symptom of a range of health disorders such as stress, weight loss, iron deficiency, diet or thyroid problems. It can also be a symptom of an underlying illness or the result of cancer treatment. In many of these cases, NHS says that hair loss is temporary and doesn’t usually need treatment. According to Glenn Lyons, Director of Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic, the hair follicles aren’t damaged and will grow back when the imbalance is addressed. Other reasons for hair loss (temporary and permanent) include:
- Telogen Effluvium (TE) – Normal and general shedding or thinning of the hair. It is temporary, and the hair growth usually recovers. According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), increased hair shedding in TE happens because of a disturbance of the normal hair cycle.
- Androgenetic Alopecia – Also known as female-pattern baldness or male-pattern baldness, it is said by Harvard Health Publishing to involve the action of the hormones called androgens, which have an important function in the regulation of hair growth. BAD says that it is caused by a combination of genetic (hereditary from both or either parents) and hormonal factors and is said to affect approximately 50% of men over the age of 50, and about 50% of women over the age of 65 and it leads to permanent hair loss.
Androgenetic Alopecia looks different in men and women. In men, it typically begins with a receding hair line with loss of hair from the top and front of the head. In women, it begins with thinning at the crown of the head while the frontal hairline often remains.
Alopecia Areata – It is a medical condition where hair is rejected by the sufferer’s immune system which doesn’t recognise the hair follicles as “self” but instead as “foreign”. Stress appears to be a trigger for alopecia areata, particularly that of bereavement, separation and accidents. The cause of alopecia areata is not fully understood, and it is also not known why only localised areas are affected or why the hair usually grows back again.
Ways to Cope with and Potentially Treat Hair Loss
- Join a Support Group – Alopecia UK says that meeting and talking to other people in the same situation as yourself can be a valuable experience. You can gain support from people who have a personal experience with hair loss and they can give you insight and advice on living and dealing with it.
- Be Patient – According to the NHS, many types of hair loss are temporary. Although they do also say that regrowth is unpredictable and could take years, and that the new hair can be any texture and colour.
- Cover Up – You can look into hiding your hair loss with hair extensions, wigs, makeup and scarves. However, make sure that the hair piece you choose is not too tight as prolonged tension and tight hairstyles or extensions can also cause hair loss known as traction alopecia, according to the Independent.
- Talk About It – The NHS advises to talk about hair loss with your friends and loved ones, letting them know about how you feel and what kind of support you need. They also advise therapy or counselling if your hair loss is affecting your relationship with your partner. If you prefer to talk to others online, there are also forums you can join such as Alopecia UK’s discussion forum.
- Medication – There are various medications available to treat hair loss. However, NHS warns that such medications don’t work for everyone, they will usually only work as long as they’re used, they aren’t available on the NHS and they can be expensive.
- Hair Transplant – Described by the NHS as a procedure to move hair from an area unaffected by hair loss to an area of thinning or baldness. They also say it is only suitable for people with androgenetic alopecia and no other types of hair loss. Hair transplants can also be expensive, costing anywhere between £1,000 and £30,000.
- Other treatments – There are also other options to treat or help with hair loss such as light treatment, immunotherapy, tattooing, steroid creams and injections and also scalp reduction surgery which are all mentioned by the NHS.
Hair loss can be scary and daunting for some people, but it is important to understand that if you are going through losing your hair, you are not alone and there are solutions out there to help you cope with it.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.