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A number of hair loss causes have been established by the global medical community.
Genetic Factors as Hair Loss Causes
The primary baldness gene sits on the X chromosome, which is passed to men through their mothers. However, there are a number of other factors in play, too. Although hereditary hair loss is slightly more dominant on the mother’s side, scientists have also found that men with bald fathers are more likely to experience thinning hair.
Genetic hair loss baffles scientists to this day. Amazingly, researchers have found that more than 280 genes influence hair thinning. Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll have established the means to identify genetic signals and predict who is more vulnerable to hair loss. This way, you’ll be able to take preventative measures early on to preserve and nourish your hair.
Hair loss science is complex and ever-changing, but scientists have made some breakthroughs in recent years. Here’s what we know so far:
In 2005, German scientists released a memorable study noting that hair thinning can be traced to having more androgen receptors in the scalp. The gene for androgen lies in the X chromosome, which comes from our mothers.
In 2008, one of the same scientists from 2005 conducted a collaborative follow up study and found that genetic variants on “chromosome 20” increase the risk of male hair thinning. This supported the theory that DNA from both our mother and father can affect baldness.
In 2013, scientists studied over 3000 Korean individuals and found that environmental factors, such as smoking and drinking, can also contribute to hair thinning. However, genetic factors seem to be far more influential than environmental ones.
Males who are prone to hair thinning are likely to have smaller hair follicles on their scalp, and each follicle produces less hair than average. Over time, these follicles thin and eventually die.
Hair thinning has also been found to be caused by the sex steroid hormone DHT, which exists in both men and women. While women have far less DHT in their systems, the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which leads to damaged hair follicles, affects both genders.
Telogen Effluvium is another form of less permanent hair loss that occurs in both men and women. It’s triggered by a shift in hormones, the environment or as a side effect from some types of medication.
Scalp Condition, the Most Common of the Hair Loss Causes?
In addition to infections, eczema and other scalp diseases, one significant contributor to scalp related hair loss is oily and dry scalp conditions:
Hair roots come with sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance called sebum. This sebum actually benefits the hair but excessive sebum production is the cause for oily hair. An oily scalp is caused by overactive sebaceous glands on the scalp. The oil attracts dirt more easily, produces dandruff, and makes hair stick together. In the worst cases, the sebum glands clog the hair roots and may cause excessive hair loss and dandruff.
Causes of excess sebum secretion include genes, hormonal imbalances, humidity, diet, etc. Hormonal imbalances found during pregnancy, menopause or puberty can also trigger an oily scalp. Some internal diseases can cause increased sebum secretion too.
The body regularly sheds dead skin cells as new cells are formed, which is a gradual and natural process. If this process speeds up, it produces excessive amounts of dead skin cells causing dandruff. In cases of poor hygiene and neglect, Seborrheic Dermatitis or Scalp Eczema is formed.
Continued neglect can slowly lead to infection, causing the rough patches to become red, itchy and painful. Severe cases of patching on the scalp can then result in a certain degree of peeling and hair loss. Sometimes, a fungal infection makes the condition worse. Hair regrows when the infected and inflamed scalp areas are treated properly.
We often observe large numbers of neglected cases of oily scalp with infected Seborrheic Dermatitis resulting in hair loss. Sadly, before medical treatment, many people try old techniques (oil massage, Castor oil, E-cap) which makes the situation worse and delays healing and treatment.
One of the main causes of a dry scalp may be an allergic reaction to a product you are using – it may just be too harsh for your scalp! Sulfate-free and organic shampoos are a lot gentler and contain fewer additives that your scalp may react to. They are also milder and will not strip your hair of existing oils.
When it comes to the condition of your hair, its texture and thickness, the condition of the scalp is key. Those of us with thinning hair can improve the thickness and amount of existing hair growth by making sure our scalp isn’t dry. There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of evidence that having a dry scalp actually causes hair loss but according to experts and trichologists, there is evidence that it can disrupt hair growth.
It appears that a dry scalp may prevent some new hair growth by blocking individual hair follicles. This further causes clogging of the hair follicle with scalp sebum build-up, leading to limited hair growth. In practical terms, the new hair struggles to push past this plug on the surface of the scalp.
It makes total sense that a soft and moisturised scalp will provide the best environment for new hair growth. We are losing and replacing hair all the time, so the hair we have left needs to be growing to its maximum capacity This way, it will remain thick and healthy instead of thinning in the areas where no male pattern baldness may be occurring.
Trauma is one of the other hair loss causes. When your body is under serious physical stress, the natural cycle of hair growth and resting can be disrupted. This results in hair loss, often in the form of thinning hair or strands may even come out in clumps. Any trauma to the system, such as being in a severe accident, undergoing surgery, experiencing burns or becoming very ill, can also shock the hair follicles. The result can be up to 75% of your hair falling out, sometimes months after the fact.
The essential vitamins, nutrients and protein that you get from a healthy and well-balanced diet ensure good health throughout your body. They ensure all your organs and internal systems are working just as they should. Poor nutrition or following a severely restrictive fad or a crash diet can lead to all kinds of nutrient deficiencies, which in turn can result in hair loss, from thinning hair to patches of baldness. Evidence and trials suggest that intake of for example Biotin, Zinc, Selenium and Cod Liver Oil can significantly promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Sometimes you can cause significant damage, in an effort to style your hair which can result in hair loss and thinning hair. Shampooing or blow-drying too frequently and repeatedly using heated styling tools are good examples. Pull- ing on your hair, whether for blow-drying or styling a too-tight ponytail, or vigorously rubbing the scalp can all lead to hair loss.
A number of infections and illnesses can lead to hair loss. Any infection that causes a high fever, a fungal skin infection or bacterial infections like syphilis can all be responsible for balding or thinning hair. Treating the underlying infection can restore hair growth and prevent future hair loss.
Both an under-active thyroid, a medical condition called hypothyroidism, and an overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism, can result in hair loss because each condition causes a hormonal imbalance. Hormones help to regulate nearly every function in the body, including hair growth. Getting the right treatment to control either of these thyroid conditions will ensure hormones are under control, stop any hair loss, and allow your hair to start growing back.
Hair loss can also be a side effect of a number of medications taken for common health problems. Blood-thinning medications, oral contraceptives, drugs for depression, NSAIDs, and beta and calcium channel blockers can all lead to thinning hair or baldness. Too much vitamin A and vitamin A-based drugs called retinoids can cause hair loss as well. Some chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are known to cause total hair loss as they work to destroy cancer cells. Just as hair usually grows back after chemotherapy, it should also grow back once you stop taking any medication that causes hair loss.
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss and there are two main types: alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. Alopecia may cause hair loss only on the scalp or it can occur all over the body. It may result in thinning hair, patch- es of hair loss, some balding, or total baldness, and it may be permanent or temporary. There are numerous causes including genetics, so always talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
Alopecia areata is often associated with autoimmune diseases. It is thought that some forms of hair loss can be caused by one of these medical conditions or is at least related to it in some way. Diabetes and lupus, in particular, are two autoimmune diseases that can result in hair loss. This type of hair loss may not always be reversible and may sometimes be permanent. In this situation, medications and hair restoration surgeries may help compensate for any hair loss.