Alopecia, or hair loss, is something that affects 40% of the middle age population in America. Hair loss naturally occurs to everyone, because the hormonal changes that take place in aging decrease the number of healthy hair follicles. However, there are some genetic, hormonal, medical, and lifestyle factors that make some of us go bald early in life.
- Genetic. The male hormone androgen plays a big part in hair loss. You are more likely to start losing hair in your mid-20s if you have more androgen. For men, the loss of hair occurs in a horseshoe pattern – hence the term “male pattern baldness”. Hair loss occurs at the top of the head while leaving the sides and back untouched. You’ll be able to tell if you’re a candidate for male pattern baldness by looking at your dad and grandfathers and seeing if they have signs of male pattern baldness. It is more helpful to look at your mother’s father because the gene for male pattern baldness comes from the mother.
- Hormonal. Some hormonal changes can cause hair loss, but only temporarily. These hormonal changes are usually due to discontinuing use of birth control pills, pregnancy, delivering a baby, the start of menopause, an under-active thyroid, or an overactive thyroid. Hair loss is usually delayed by three months after the hormone change, and it will take around three months for hair to grow back. You can promote hair growth by taking a lot of hair vitamins that contain zinc and iron. You can also use a laser comb for faster hair growth.
- Medical. Certain medications can cause hair loss—but not necessarily chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which affect growing hairs. Many drugs designed to treat common conditions like gout or depression can trigger hair loss through unknown mechanisms. The good news is that only a very small margin of patients is affected, and the hair loss stops once you stop taking the medication. Then you can stimulate hair growth using hair vitamins.
- Lifestyle. If you wear long hair in tight pigtails, use tight hair rollers, or wear them in cornrows, pulling on your hair will cause scarring that will prevent hair from growing back. Getting frequent hot oil treatments, bleach jobs, dye jobs, or perms can also cause scarring. Excessive brushing and over-styling can also cause hair loss if they damage the hair shafts. Fortunately, there are many hair restoration technologies like hair transplantation and laser combs, should scarring happen to you.
One other lifestyle factor that contributes to hair loss is poor nutrition. Hair is nourished by essential nutrients from the body like protein, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Without these nutrients, it is impossible to have healthy hair. Eating disorders, fad diets, or eating too many processed foods are some of the lifestyle habits that contribute to poor nutrition. If you want a luscious head of hair, make sure you eat a balanced diet with lots of fiber and green vegetables. You may also supplement your diet with hair vitamins for healthy hair.