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Medical & Genetic Hair Loss Info

Hair loss can affect just your scalp or your entire body. It can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions or medications. Anyone — men, women and children — can experience hair loss.

Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp.  Some people prefer to let their hair loss run its course untreated and unhidden. Others may cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves. And still others choose one of the treatments available to prevent further hair loss and to restore growth.
Most people normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. This usually doesn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair because new hair is growing in at the same time. Hair loss occurs when this cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.

The exact cause of hair loss may not be fully understood, but it’s usually related to one or more of the following factors:

  • Family history (heredity)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Alopecia 
  • Trichotillomania (hair pulling)

Family history (heredity) is the most common cause of hair loss. This  is an inherited condition often called male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness. It usually occurs gradually and in predictable patterns — a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning hair in women.

Heredity can also affect the age at which you begin to lose hair, the rate of hair loss and the extent of baldness. Some people begin losing hair as early as puberty while others experience hair loss later in life.

Hormonal Changes & Medical Conditions:

A variety of conditions can cause hair loss, including:

  • Hormonal changes and imbalances can cause temporary and permenant hair loss. This could be due to pregnancy, childbirth or the onset of menopause. Hormone levels are also affected by the thyroid gland, so thyroid problems may cause hair loss.
  • Alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh). This type of nonscarring hair loss is called patchy hair loss . It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles — causing sudden hair loss that leaves smooth, roundish bald patches on the skin.
  • Scalp infections. Infections, such as ringworm, can invade the hair and skin of your scalp, leading to scaly patches and hair loss. Once infections are treated, hair generally grows back.
  • Other skin disorders. Diseases that cause scarring alopecia may result in permanent loss at the scarred areas. These conditions include lichen planus, some types of lupus and sarcoidosis.
  • Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh). This condition, also called Hair-pulling disorder, causes people to have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, whether it’s from the scalp, the eyebrows or other areas of the body.

Pharmaceutical Hair Loss can be caused by drugs used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure and birth control. Intake of too much vitamin A may cause hair loss as well.

Other causes of hair loss can also result from:

  • Radiation therapy to the head. The hair may not grow back the same as it was before.
  • A trigger event. Many people experience a general thinning of hair several months after a physical or emotional shock. This type of hair loss is temporary. Examples of trigger events include sudden or excessive weight loss, a high fever, surgery, or a death in the family.
  • Certain hairstyles and treatments. Excessive hair styling or hairstyles that pull your hair tight, such as pigtails or cornrows, can cause traction alopecia. Hot oil hair treatments and permanents can cause inflammation of hair follicles that leads to hair loss. If scarring occurs, hair loss could be permanent.
American Hair Loss Council

More information about Hair Loss can be found on the American Hair Loss Council website.