Causes and treatments for hair loss
It is perfectly normal for people to shed between 50 and 100 hairs from their heads every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
However, excessive hair loss that causes progressive thinning of the hair, bald patches, or even total hair loss can be very distressing.
There are several possible causes of hair loss. These include:
major stressors, such as a prolonged illness, job loss, or a bereavement — this kind of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium
some medications, including antidepressants, beta-blockers, levodopa, and chemotherapy drugs
illnesses such as thyroid disorders, a sex hormone imbalance, or a dietary deficiency of protein, iron, zinc, or biotin, for example
autoimmunity, which can cause hair to fall out in one or more small patches on the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes — this is known as alopecia areataTrusted Source
tight hairstyles that strain the hair follicles, known as traumatic or traction alopecia
a combination of genetics, male hormones, and increasing age, known as pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia; this can affect both males and females.
The biology of hair growth is complex, but in recent years scientists have made strides toward understanding how the various factors listed above cause hair loss. They hope that in time this will lead to new, more effective treatments.
How chronic stress triggers hair loss
In March 2021, scientists revealed how chronic stress can keep hair follicles in this inactive state for longer.
The hair follicle is one of the few tissues in the body that can regenerate itself, thanks to special cells known as adult stem cells. Researchers at the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology in Cambridge, MA, discovered how chronic stress in mice suppresses the activity of these cells.
They showed that a stress hormone called corticosterone — which is the mouse equivalent of cortisol in humans — keeps the follicle stem cells inactive.
How to minimize hair loss
Hair loss is an inevitable part of the aging process in both men and women. However, there are ways to protect hair follicles and slow down hair loss.
“As soon as you notice you are losing hair, make an appointment with a health care practitioner, like a dermatologist,” advised Dr. Reid Maclellan, the founder and CEO of Cortina Health, and adjunct professor of plastic surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.
“The sooner you consult an expert, you may be able to start treating it quickly and minimize further hair loss,” he said.
If hair starts to thin, he advised against the use of hot tools, blow dryers, aggressive towel drying, and tight hairstyles such as buns.
Dr. Ron Chao, a cosmetic, plastic, and hair transplant surgeon at Barber Surgeons Guild in New York, cautioned:
“There are literally hundreds of products, shampoos, vitamins, supplements etc. on the market that claim to help with hair loss, but as a professional, I only officially recommend those that are currently clinically FDA approved which are oral finasteride, topical minoxidil and low-level class 3 lasers.”
Source: Medical News Today