What are the Reasons for Hair Loss?

For many people, the first thought that comes to the top of their head concerns hair loss. It is never a pleasant discovery to notice a few extra hairs in the sink, or a thinning patch in what were once lustrous locks. Though it is often just a part of the aging process, there are a number of reasons for hair loss. Luckily, there are also a few effective treatments.

Hair loss can happen to men, women, and even children. To a large degree, the process is genetic. If hair loss or baldness is part of your family medical history, the odds are good that you will suffer the same consequences. On the other hand, baldness can be exacerbated by any number of external factors.

For instance, it is not unusual for people to lose hair after illness or a major surgery. Many illnesses can cause a person to lose some of their hair, and in these cases, it will often grow back when the illness passes. Women are known to lose a certain amount of hair after pregnancy. In addition, bacterial or fungal infections are common reasons for hair loss.


As most people realize, cancer patients forced to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments will almost inevitably lose some of all of their hair. However, other medications can cause the same condition. Birth control pills, anti-depressants, and blood thinners are proven reasons for hair loss. Sometimes, when a medication is no longer needed, the hair will return. In the same vein, switching medications can reduce hair loss.

There are other, more common, reasons for hair loss. Shock and stress can make you lose your hair, as can poor nutrition. Excessive use of hot curling irons or blow dryers damage the hair. It has long been known that the chemicals used to create a permanent are detrimental to a healthy scalp.

Hair is sensitive and fragile. Tight curlers used on a regular basis, pigtails, and cornrows can cause major damage. Scarring takes place whenever the hair is pulled tightly away from the scalp, and is frequently of such a severity that hair will never grow back. Some people, subconsciously or in their sleep, twist or even pull out their hair.

The most well-known reason for hair loss is male pattern baldness. This is a hereditary syndrome, and in men, results in a receding hairline and thinning on the top or back of the head. Female pattern baldness, though less frequently mentioned, is also common. For women, the hair tends to thin at a rather generalized rate over the entire head.

Losing your hair is no reason to lose your mind. Over the counter, topical treatments containing the drug minoxidil are effective in hair re-growth. Rogaine® is the best known of these products. They do not work for everyone, and can sometimes cause a burning sensation in the scalp. Minoxidil products are safe for both men and women.

A drug manufactured specifically for men is known as Propecia®. It is available by prescription only, in pill form, and may need to be taken for up to six months before hair begins to reappear. It is very effective in almost ninety percent of all cases, but women should never take Propecia®. Warnings on this drug state that women who are considering having children should not even handle Propecia®.

If all else fails, and hair loss is causing major stress and strain, there are the old, fallback methods. Wigs, toupees, and weaves are readily available. Also, for those who want entirely new hair, surgical hair plugs can be planted in the scalp. This last is a relatively long and costly procedure, but in most cases it will eliminate the thought of “hair today, gone tomorrow.”



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