What Causes Hair Loss?

From shampoo to medications - what actually causes hair loss? Find out.

If you’re wondering why your hair may be thinning, you may be quick to search for an answer online. But the Internet is filled with shady myths about male pattern baldness, and what causes hair to fall out in men.

 

Let’s get the facts straight and explore the most common causes of hair loss.

 

Types of hair loss

The average human loses around 100 hairs per day. So, don’t be alarmed if you notice more hair than usual in your brush.

 

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss and there are lots of different types. They include:

 

  • Natural alopecia (involutional). As we age, it is common for our hairs to thin, shorten and fall out.
  • Androgenic alopecia. Also referred to as male pattern baldness, it’s a genetic condition that affects both genders. Symptoms include a receding hairline and hair loss in patches. In some men, hair will begin to fall out during their early 20s. In women, pattern baldness more often results in a less localized hair loss. That means, women may notice that their hair is becoming thinner overall.
  • Alopecia areata. People who suffer from this autoimmune disorder usually experience very sudden hair loss. However, this hair loss is not permanent and reversible in the majority of patients. Alopecia universalis will cause sudden hair loss all over the body.
  • Scarring alopecia. This type of hair loss is irreversible. It is often caused by inflammatory skin conditions such as folliculitis which leave scars. Hair cannot grow back once the tissue has scarred. However, it’s fairly rare with just 3% of patients being diagnosed with scarring alopecia.
  • Trichotillomania. Patients with trichotillomania often pull out their hair as a consequence of psychological conditions or severe stress.
  • Other types of hair loss include those caused by fungal infections (tinea capitis), drug-induced hair loss, cancer or disease-related alopecia and hair loss caused by malnutrition.

 

What causes hair to fall out?

As we age, the hair on our head begins to thin and fall out. This is a natural process that all humans will experience. However, some people may experience hair loss much earlier or sporadically throughout their lives. What exactly causes hair loss will depend on the type of alopecia you are diagnosed with. Here are the most common causes:

 

  • Age
  • Genes
  • Hormone changes
  • Autoimmune diseases (thyroid disease, lupus, diabetes, vitiligo)
  • Inflammatory skin conditions (acne, folliculitis)
  • Psychiatric or psychological conditions
  • Fungal infections
  • Drug-related hair loss (side effects of drugs can include hair loss. Medications that are known to cause hair loss include cimetidine, amphetamines, antithyroid medicines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, levodopa, certain antidepressants, bromocriptine, and others. Always read the packaging insert.)
  • Certain types of cancer and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can lead to hair loss.
  • Severe stress
  • Malnutrition (vitamin deficiency causes hair loss. Vitamins for hair include vitamin C, D, E, A, folic acid, iron, zinc, niacin, fatty acids, selenium, and biotin have been linked to hair loss.
  • Other medical conditions (depression, arthritis, high blood pressure)

 

Hair loss myths

Losing one’s hair can be an emotionally charged time, but in searching for answers and solutions, men will ultimately stumble across many dubious claims made online. Let’s take a look at the top myths about hair loss

 

Myth #1 – You’ll be bald by the age of 50

Although alopecia is age-related, not everyone will be balding at a set age. Around 66% of men in the U.S. lose some of their hair after 35, according to the American Hair Loss Association. By the age of 50, the majority of men (85%) will experience severe hair thinning. But that leaves 15% of men who will not experience hair loss.

 

Myth #2 – Shampoos can cause hair loss

There is absolutely no evidence that shampoo causes hair loss. It’s normal to see hair going down the drain when standing in the shower, but that has nothing to do with the shampoo or the water.

 

Myth #3 – Hats can cause bald spots

It’s a common myth that wearing hats may cause hair loss, but these claims are entirely unfounded. The only reason why you may see some hairs coming out is if you’re wearing an incredibly tight hat and keep pulling out the hair each time you take it off.

 

Myth #4 – Hair loss is inherited from your mother

Nope. Sorry, you can’t blame mom for that one. Yes, hair loss is genetic, but that could be inherited from either your mom or your dad.

 

Myth #5 – Styling products cause hair loss

Whether you’re into gels or sprays, they’re not what’s causing your hair loss. So, foam away!

 

Myth #6 – Poor circulation will cause alopecia

That’s quite a popular belief, but the reverse is true. Hair loss usually results in poor circulation. Hair growth, on the other hand, stimulates blood circulation.

 

Myth #7 – Too much masturbation causes baldness

Frequent masturbation does not cause hair loss. In fact, it doesn’t affect your scalp in the slightest so masturbate away.

 

References

  • Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 7(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.0701a01
  • Novak, M. A., & Meyer, J. S. (2009). Alopecia: possible causes and treatments, particularly in captive nonhuman primates. Comparative medicine, 59(1), 18–26.
  • Harvard Health Publishing (2018). Hair Loss - Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/hair-loss-a-to-z [Accessed 16 Nov. 2019].
  • Americanhairloss.org. (2010). American Hair Loss Association - Men’s Hair Loss. [online] Available at: https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2019].

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