All You Need to KnowYour source of information on the causes, symptoms, stages, and treatment options for hair loss
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss occurs for a variety of different reasons. The most common cause, androgenic alopecia, is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. This issue is often referred to as female or male pattern hair loss.
Loss of hair can also occur due to health-related issues, like a problem with your immune system. This type of health concern causes the second most common type of hair loss, alopecia areata.
Other health problems can also affect your hair. Skin, gastrointestinal, thyroid, kidney, and liver conditions have all been associated with hair loss symptoms.
Hair loss may even be induced by the medications you’re taking, an unhealthy diet, or stress. Fortunately, these issues are usually temporary, and can often be resolved more easily.
Hair Loss Treatments
There are many different hair loss treatments, but they aren’t all effective for everyone. The exact treatment you require depends on the cause of your hair loss, and how far it has progressed.
Out of all the various types of hair loss, androgenic alopecia has the most treatment options. Two common drugs you’ve probably heard of are finasteride and minoxidil — but surgical and cosmetic options are popular ways to deal with hair loss, too. There are medical devices as well, like the ones used to perform low-level laser therapy and microneedling. Several new hair care products with ingredients like ketoconazole or natural DHT blockers are also becoming available.
Some of these treatments can be used for multiple types of hair loss. For example, a product with ketoconazole can also improve hair growth by improving the scalp microbiome.
Other hair loss treatments need to be very specific. Autoimmune conditions, like alopecia areata, combat hair loss by mediating the immune system’s response.
Some people may not even need a hair loss treatment. If you haven’t been eating a balanced diet, consuming healthier foods may be enough to restore hair growth. Changing the type of medication you’re taking might also help stop the progression of hair loss.
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Hair Loss Symptoms
Hair loss can be normal. It’s important not to panic if you see a small clump of hair in the shower or a few strands on your brush after detangling your hair. That being said, normal hair loss occurs in limited amounts. If you’re shedding over 100 strands each day, you may want to consult a professional.
Hair loss symptoms can be hard to define at first. However, a sure sign of hair loss is a sudden increase in hair shedding. This means that you’re essentially losing a surprising amount of hair out of the blue. If these symptoms turn into circular spots of patchy hair loss, it could be a sign of alopecia areata.
Alternatively, scalp problems – like a red, itchy, or swollen scalp – can also be indicative of hair loss. However, in these cases, your hair loss symptoms are more likely to be due to a skin condition or infection.
The most common type of hair loss – androgenic alopecia – has symptoms that can be much harder to identify. You might notice that you have thinner hair, or find that it breaks easily when you brush or wash it. Some people only notice this condition when their hairline starts receding. Unfortunately, patterned baldness occurs gradually, which means you might not realize it’s happening until it’s progressed to a more dramatic stage of hair loss.
The Seven Stages of Hair Loss
If you have androgenic alopecia, your hair loss will occur in stages. Over the past few decades, researchers like Beek, Norwood, Hamilton, Setty, and Bouhana have created different classification systems designed to identify the stages of hair loss. These systems are scales that can help you determine which stage of hair loss you’re experiencing.
Why so many classification systems? Well, androgenic alopecia can affect anyone, but men and women often see their hair loss progress in different ways. The Norwood-Hamilton scale is one of the most popular classification systems for male pattern hair loss, while the Ludwig scale is the most commonly used classification system for female pattern hair loss. These seven stages of hair loss are based on the Norwood-Hamilton scale:
- The hairline begins to recede, but this might not be very obvious at first.
- Hairline recession increases and becomes more noticeable.
- Hair loss starts to progress to the temples and/or crown of the head.
- An area on the crown of the head has very little hair or no hair at all.
- Hair loss has started to affect both the front and crown of the head.
- Hair loss now affects both the front and crown of the head. Hair loss has progressed so that these two areas are no longer separate.
- Hair loss affects most of the head, except for the lower sides and back, causing balding.
Stopping Hair Loss
Guides & Articles
Finasteride is an FDA-approved drug that’s effective at combating androgenic alopecia. Unfortunately, it also has various unpleasant side effects. If you’d rather use a different treatment, minoxidil and LLLT are also FDA-approved options. You can also use shampoos and supplements infused with DHT-blocking nutraceuticals.
Minoxidil is an FDA-recommended hair loss treatment. This topical solution is not meant to be used for frontal baldness and should be applied to the crown of the head. However, recent studies have shown that both the oral and topical versions of this drug can counteract hair loss and regrow hair.
Minoxidil and finasteride are both FDA-approved treatments for hair loss, but they work in completely different ways. Minoxidil increases blood flow to the scalp, while finasteride works as a hormone blocker. The way you take these medications is also different: Minoxidil is a topical solution, while finasteride is a pill you take once a day.