Hair loss and thinning can be an unpleasant experience for many people, and while it is a natural part of the ageing process for some, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to it. Before we dive into the reasons behind hair loss, it's essential to understand the process of hair growth.
The hair growth cycle consists of three primary stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen. During the anagen phase, which can last up to six years, hair actively grows from the hair follicle. The length of this stage determines how long the hair can grow. The catagen phase is a transitional stage that lasts only a few weeks, where hair growth slows down, and the hair follicle begins to shrink.
The final stage, the telogen phase, lasts for about three months. This is the stage where we experience "hair loss" or "hair fall." During this phase, the hair rests and eventually falls out, making way for new hair growth. The hair growth cycle is a continuous process, with each hair follicle going through the stages independently.
In this blog post, we will explore the seven main factors that can disrupt this cycle and lead to hair loss and hair thinning, including hereditary factors, stress, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medication side effects, radiation, and styling practices. We will offer helpful tips and advice on how to prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.
1. Stress and anxiety
Our bodies are delicate ecosystems that can be thrown out of balance by the challenges and pressures of daily life. When we're stressed or anxious, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that can trigger inflammation and even lead to hair loss. It is always important to manage your stress levels. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, or exercise can be helpful to re-centre yourself. Seeking support from a mental health professional or therapist can also help manage stress and anxiety levels.
2. Hairstyles and treatments
Hair is one of our most treasured accessories, but certain hairstyles and treatments can leave us feeling less than fabulous. Tightly braided hair, weaves, and extensions can look amazing, but they can also cause a condition called traction alopecia, which can lead to hair loss and thinning. Similarly, chemical treatments like hair dye, relaxers, and perms can damage hair, causing breakage and thinning. If you want to keep your locks looking luscious, it's important to avoid hairstyles that put too much tension on your hair. Opt for looser styles that give your hair and scalp room to breathe and limit your use of chemical treatments as much as possible.
3. Medical conditions
Your hair health can be a reflection of your overall health, and certain medical conditions can impact your hair growth. Thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and scalp infections are some of the medical conditions that can affect hair growth. Don't ignore any changes in your hair and if you suspect any medical condition is causing your hair loss, talk to your doctor about the right treatment. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you may see an improvement in your hair growth.
4. Medication & supplements
Hair loss and thinning can also be caused by certain medications and supplements. Medications such as chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, and certain antidepressants are some of the culprits of hair loss. Similarly, high doses of vitamin A and some herbal supplements can also affect hair growth. Therefore, it's essential to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications or supplements. Your healthcare provider can offer you advice on possible side effects and alternative treatments to prevent hair loss.
5. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment used to target and destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, it can also cause hair loss in the area being treated. The reason behind this is that radiation damages the hair follicles, preventing them from producing new hair. While this side effect is often temporary and hair will typically grow back once treatment is complete, it can still be a distressing experience for many people. It's important to talk to your healthcare provider about the potential side effects of radiation therapy and to prepare for hair loss by considering options such as wigs, scarves, or hats. They can also provide guidance on how to care for your scalp during treatment to minimise hair loss and promote healthy regrowth afterwards.
6. Hormonal changes
The intricate dance of hormones in our bodies can have a noticeable impact on our hair. During pregnancy, women often experience a surge in estrogen, which can lead to thicker and more luscious locks. However, after giving birth, the sudden drop in estrogen levels can trigger hair loss. Menopause can also bring about hormonal changes that affect hair growth, as can conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders. To support healthy hair growth during times of hormonal changes, it's essential to prioritise self-care habits like eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress. In some cases, medications or hormone therapy may also be recommended to address underlying hormonal imbalances.
Hair loss due to genetics, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common form of hair loss that can affect both men and women. The condition is passed down through generations and is caused by a combination of genetics, hormones, and aging. Hair follicles shrink over time, leading to thinner and shorter hair until they eventually stop producing new hairs altogether. While there is no cure for hereditary hair loss, treatments like minoxidil and finasteride can help slow down or stop the progression of hair loss. Hair transplant surgery is also an option for those looking to restore their hairline.
In conclusion, there are many different causes of hair loss and thinning. While some causes may be out of our control, there are steps we can take to prevent or slow down the progression of hair loss. If hair loss persists, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider to identify the root cause and explore treatment options that best fit your needs. Remember, early intervention can make all the difference in maintaining a healthy head of hair!