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Hair Loss Causes

Introduction

Male pattern baldness, accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. By the age of 35 almost two-thirds of men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss rising to 85% by the age of 50. Understandably, the majority who suffer from this condition are extremely unhappy with their hair loss situation and would do anything to change it, as it can deeply affect many aspects of their life; from interpersonal relationships to their professional lives.

Types of hair loss

Androgenetic Alopecia

More commonly known as male pattern baldness is by far the most common form of hair loss. While there are many reasons why men lose their hair, the majority of male pattern baldness cases are heredity where they have inherited a genetic sensitivity to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT begin to miniaturize, shortening the lifespan of each hair follicle affected and they eventually stop producing cosmetically acceptable hair.

Male pattern baldness is generally characterised with the onset of a receding hairline and thinning crown. Hair in these areas, including the temples and mid-anterior scalp, appear to be the most sensitive to DHT. This pattern eventually progresses into more apparent baldness throughout the entire top of the scalp, leaving only a rim or ‘horseshoe’ pattern of hair in the more advanced stages of male pattern baldness.

DHT is a derivative or by-product of testosterone. Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha-reductace, which is held in the hair follicle’s oil glands. While the entire genetic process of male pattern baldness is not completely understood, it is known that DHT shrinks hair follicles. When DHT is suppressed, hair follicles continue to thrive. Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT must be exposed to the hormone for a prolonged period of time in order for the affected follicle to complete the miniaturization process. Today, with proper intervention this process can be slowed or even stopped if caught early enough.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata are bald patches that may come and go. It can occur at any age, but mostly affects teenagers and young men. Six out of ten men affected by this condition develop their first bald patch before they are 20 years old. Alopecia areata is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system and it is believed that some people’s genes make them more susceptible to alopecia areata as one in five people affected have a family history of the condition. Alopecia areata often appears as well-defined circular bald patches on the scalp but in many cases the hair grows back after about a year.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a common form of hair loss that happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. When the body goes through something traumatic like major surgery, a severe infection, or extreme stress, many of the 90 percent or so of hair in the anagen (growing phase) or catagen (resting phase) can shift all at once into the shedding (telogen phase). About 6 weeks to three months after the stressful event is usually when this hair loss condition can start. It starts as a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp that may not be even all over and can be more severe in some areas than others. Normally the hair on top of the scalp thins more than it does at the back and sides and there is usually no hairline recession. Men with telogen effluvium never completely lose all their scalp hair and the hair can be noticeably thin in severe cases, but the condition is fully reversible. The hair follicles are not permanently or irreversibly affected; there are just more follicles in a resting state than normal. The trigger factors for this condition are many and varied but arguably the two most common causes are chronic stress and diet deficiency. It is believed that chronic stress can gradually have a negative effect on hair growth and lead to persistent telogen effluvium.

Anagen Effluvium

Is also a form of diffuse hair loss like telogen effluvium, but develops much more rapidly and can cause a person to lose all their hair. The condition is most frequently caused when taking cytostatic drugs for cancer or associated with chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets your body’s rapidly dividing cancer cells, your other rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles in the growing (anagen) phase, are also greatly affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins approximately 90 percent or more of the hairs can fall out while still in the anagen phase.

While the development of anagen effluvium is rapid, recovery can be equally as rapid. Because the follicles are just frozen in time they are ready to grow once the factor causing the anagen effluvium has been removed.