Everyone loses some hair on a daily basis as a result of its normal growth cycle. In most people, the hair grows back and does not cause a change in appearance. There are, however, many conditions that interfere with the hair’s normal growth cycle and prevent new strands from growing in to replace those that are lost. This condition is called alopecia, and it can affect both men and women.
Why Hair Matters
For those already dealing with hair loss, it’s easy to see why keeping a full head of hair matters. Hair loss often impacts one’s confidence, which can lead to other problems. Research shows that people experiencing hair loss often report experiencing mood changes and social issues, sometimes including diagnosable psychological conditions. Preventing, slowing, or curing hair loss can alleviate these secondary issues, as well.
Types of Hair Loss
Hair loss can be either temporary or permanent depending on how it works and what caused the condition. Deciding what actions to take requires knowing what type of hair loss is causing the problem. The most common of them include:
- Androgenic alopecia, often referred to as male pattern baldness.
Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes a loss of hair on the head and body.
Telogen effluvium, caused by physical and emotional stress or sudden hormonal changes that cause the rapid shedding of hair in a short period.
Anagen effluvium, a rapid shedding of hair due to medical treatments.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting around 80 million people in the United States, alone.
Best Ways to Prevent Hair Loss
It’s not always possible to prevent hair loss entirely, especially if there is a genetic component. However, medication use, hormonal changes, and lifestyle factors also play a role, and those can sometimes be controlled. People concerned about the potential for hair loss should be aware of the following contributing factors so that they can find ways to alleviate, or even avoid, them.
- Nutritional deficiencies, most notably iron and protein deficiencies.
Medical treatments, including not just chemotherapy but also certain medications.
Stressful events, including both emotional and physical stressors.
Hairstyles that pull on the hair.
Fungal infections of the scalp.
Damage due to processing such as perms and bleaching.
To reduce the risk of hair loss, people should follow a healthy diet, develop effective mechanisms for coping with stress, avoid hairstyles that pull on the scalp or require chemical processes, and consult a doctor about other potential underlying causes.
Treatments for Hair Loss
The good news for those already experiencing hair loss is that there are effective treatments available. In some cases, it can even be reversed. While patchy hair loss caused by alopecia areata tends to resolve itself within a year or so, most treatments require taking more active steps. They can include:
For those who experience androgenic alopecia, hair transplantation is typically the best option. It involves removing hair from one part of the head and transplanting it into bald spots. The procedure does not require hospitalization, but there are some side effects.
If an underlying disease is causing hair loss, a doctor may prescribe medications to resolve it. Similarly, if a medication is contributing to a patient’s hair loss, they may be advised to stop using it.
Don’t Lose Hope
People struggling with self-esteem issues due to hair loss shouldn’t lose hope. There are effective treatments available for preventing, and sometimes even curing it.