Causes Of Hair Loss – Part II
By John Kiely, MD
Hair Transplant Specialist
Causes Of Hair Loss – Part II
Last months article discussed male/female pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia. This is the leading cause of baldness in the vast majority of cases. This month well look at other possible causes of hair loss.
Alopecia Areata. In this type of hair loss, hair falls out, usually resulting in totally smooth round patches about the size of a coin or larger. It rarely results in complete loss of scalp and body hair. This disease may affect children or adults of any age. Even though the cause is unknown, there seems to be an immune element involved, as evidenced by the response to local steroid treatment in some patients. In other cases, the hair may regrow by itself. Apart from the hair loss, affected persons are generally in excellent physical health.
Childbirth. Pregnant women do not lose as much hair as they did before they were pregnant. However, after delivery, many hairs enter the resting phase of the cycle. Within two to three months, some women will notice large amounts of hair falling out. This can last one to six months, but resolves completely in most cases.
High Fever, Severe Infection, Severe Flu. One to three months after any of these conditions, a person may be shocked to see a lot of hair falling out. This shedding usually corrects itself.
Thyroid Disease. Both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. This can be diagnosed by your physician with laboratory tests. This type of hair loss can usually be reversed with proper treatment.
Inadequate Protein Intake. Crash diets that exclude protein or abnormal eating habits may result in protein malnutrition. The body will help save protein by shifting growing hairs into the resting phase. Massive hair shedding can occur two to three months later. Hair can then be pulled by the roots fairly easily. This condition can obviously be reversed and prevented by eating proper amounts of protein, particularly when dieting.
Medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause temporary hair shedding in some people. Some of these include medicines used to treat gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, or blood thinners. High doses of vitamin A and selenium may also cause hair shedding.
Cancer Treatments. These will cause hair cells to stop dividing. Hairs then become thin and break off as they exit the scalp. This may occur one to three weeks after treatment. Patients can lose as much as 90 percent of their scalp hair. The hair will regrow after treatment ends.
Birth Control Pills. Women who lose hair associated with birth control pills usually have an inherited tendency toward hair loss. If this occurs, they should consider switching to another birth control pill or method. When they stop the contraceptive, hair will begin shedding two to three months later, and continue for six months when it usually stops. This is similar to what happens after childbirth.