Guest post by Dr Laura Villa; Image by Phimchanok Srisuriyamart from Pixabay
Hair loss is something I commonly see in practice. Although it is often not caused by something life-threatening, it can be distressing for many people leading to intense emotional suffering.
What is the normal amount of hair loss?
First, let’s talk about how hair grows.
Hair grows in cycles. The cycle begins with the anagen phase, where the hair is actively growing. Then we enter the catagen phase, which is an in-between phase; it signals the end of the active hair growth. The telogen phase is the third and resting phase of the hair follicle. Last is the exogen phase, where hairs are actively shedding from the scalp.
With that said, it is reasonable to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day as our bodies are continually growing new hair and shed old hair.
Why is my hair falling out?
Androgenic alopecia is one of the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women. This is more commonly known as male pattern baldness in which there are high levels of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds receptors in the hair follicle resulting in a shortening of the anagen phase. In men, hair loss affects the temples, frontal forehead, and the crown of the head. In women, there is hair loss at the crown of the head.
Believe it or not, stress is another common cause of hair loss. The stress hormone, cortisol, is known to affect the hair follicle’s function and cyclic regulation. Stress occurring as a consequence of hair loss can lead to further hair loss. It ends up being a vicious cycle between stress and hair loss.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. One of the many symptoms this causes is hair loss. Those with hypothyroidism might also have hair loss at the outer corners of the eyebrow.
Iron deficiency is when a person doesn’t have enough iron in their body, or their body doesn’t use iron properly. When severe, it can cause hair loss, shortness of breath, fatigue, and many other symptoms.
Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff, is not a hair disorder but rather a skin disorder. Dandruff itself won’t cause hair loss, but chronic scratching can damage hair follicles, causing hair loss. Additional symptoms seen with dandruff are a greasy scaling rash on the face and scalp, and itching.
Similar to seborrheic dermatitis, tinea capitis, a fungal infection of the skin can cause hair loss. This is mostly seen in children. The signs and symptoms vary, but it is commonly associated with itching, flaking, and bald patches on the scalp.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs. In addition to hair loss, it is associated with many other symptoms such as fever, rashes, joint pains, and weight loss.
Alopecia areata is another autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your hair follicles. Oval patches characterize this type of hair loss, and patients may also have nail pitting.
By all means, this is not a comprehensive list. Some other things to consider are heavy metal poisoning, rare dermatological conditions, mold exposure, and Lyme disease.
Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause and requires a personalized approach. Call the office today at 520-261-5790 to find the root cause of your hair loss.
- ANZELONE M, RICHARDS A, DELL’ACOUA G. Stress-Induced Hair Loss: Benefits from a Standardized Nutraceutical. Naturopathic Doctor News & Review. 2020;16(5):10-11
- Thom E. Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD. 2016;15(8):1001-1004.
- Hay RJ. Tinea Capitis: Current Status. Mycopathologia. 2017;182(1-2):87-93. doi:10.1007/s11046-016-0058-8
- Concha JSS, Werth VP. Alopecias in lupus erythematosus. Lupus Sci Med. 2018;5(1):e000291. Published 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1136/lupus-2018-000291
- PORTER, R. S. et al.The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy, 20th edition (2018) [electronic resource] / Robert S. Porter, MD, editor-in-chief ; Justin L. Kaplan, MD, deputy editor-in-chief, Richard B. Lynn, MD, and Madhavi T. Reddy, MD, senior assistant editors. 20th. ed. [s. l.]: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., 2018. ISBN 9780911910421.