Last month's article discussed male/female pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia. This is the leading cause of baldness in the vast majority of cases. This month we'll 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. 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.
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 2-3 months, some women will notice large amounts of hair falling out. This can last 1-6 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.
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 2-3 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.
Medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause temporary hair shedding in some people. 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 1-3 weeks after treatment. Patients can lose as much as 90% 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 towards 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 2-3 months later, and continue for six months when it usually stops. This is similar to what happens after childbirth.