Hair loss affects both sexes, but can be especially upsetting to women who often think of their hair as their "crowning glory." Bald may be beautiful in men, but it spells heartache for most women.
If you find your brush overflowing with strands each time you do your hair, don't panic. Hair loss can be caused by many different things.
Understanding your hair's structure and how it grows is the first step to understanding this problem.
There are several different types of hair loss. Some are temporary and some are permanent.
The good news? There have been many advances made in the hair loss arena. Knowing which type of hair loss you may be experiencing can be your first step to finding a solution!
Hair Structure and Growth
Related: What Exactly is Your Hair Made Of?
Your hair has three growth stages, and according to the Mayo Clinic approximately 90% of the hair on your head is in the active growth stage. This is known as the anagen phase and lasts two to six years.
The catagen phase is the transitional phase and lasts from two to six weeks.
In the telogen phase your hair follicles are resting. This stage can last from two to three months. During this time, old hair is shed and new hair replaces it. Then, the entire cycle starts again.
It's important to understand that everyone experiences hair loss to some extent as they age. This natural thinning of hair is known as involutional alopecia.
Temporary Hair Loss
Some hair loss is temporary and can be caused by certain chemical hair treatments, medication, diet, stress, hormonal changes, or disease. Temporary hair loss is typically resolved once you get to the "root" of the problem. Here are some common types of temporary hair loss:
Alopecia areata is classified as an autoimmune disease, but the exact cause is unknown. Some doctors believe that genetics may play a role, and that a virus or environmental trigger may set the condition off.
Alopecia areata may start with itching and soreness. Hair starts to fall out in small, smooth, and round patches about the size of a quarter. This disease can affect any part of your body that has hair, and can sometimes affect your entire scalp or body. In general, hair will grow back, but you may lose it a number of times.
Telogen effluvium may occur after a very stressful event, or because of a serious illness. Hair may come out when brushing or combing, or when you shampoo it. Hair loss is usually spread evenly over your scalp, rather than in patches.
Traction alopecia occurs from tight braids, pigtails or cornrows. It can also occur if you roll your curlers too tightly. Hair loss will be in line with the location of the stressor.
Anagen effluvium is the type of hair loss chemotherapy/radiation patients experience. It is sudden, rapid hair loss caused by a traumatic experience in the body. You may lose all of the hair on your head. After treatment, your hair will grow back, but at a slower rate than normal.
Permanent Hair Loss
Permanent hair loss is more common in men than women. Hormonal changes are thought to be the main cause, but scarring and injury to the scalp are also culprits.
Related: Why Am I Losing My Hair?
Adrogenetic alopecia refers to male and female pattern baldness. Men will typically experience hair loss in a horseshoe pattern from the front hairline and temples, and may become completely bald. Women experience female pattern baldness from the front hairline, and most find that the sides and crown also become thinner. Women very rarely go completely bald.
Cicatricial alopoecia refers to a diverse group of rare disorders that destroy the hair follicle and replace it with scar tissue. This type of hair loss is usually patchy and may include pain and itching. The cause is not well understood.
Solutions to Hair Loss
There are many products on the market today that address hair loss. Some of them treat the follicles in an effort to stimulate hair growth and reduce shedding. Ask your stylist for recommendations.
If you're experiencing abnormal hair loss, its always best to consult your doctor or dermatologist.
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