About hair loss

Everyone, male or female, loses hair. We are all born with a certain number of hair follicles, and no matter what we do throughout our lives we never grow any more follicles than we were born with. As stated by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it is normal to lose approximately 50 to 100 hairs per day. It is only when you see thinning or bald patches that you know you are experiencing serious hair loss.

Causes of hair loss

People lose hair for a number of reasons. Women may experience hair loss after childbirth. Extreme stress, certain diseases, and some medical treatments can also cause severe hair loss (alopecia).

Hair disorders

Androgenic alopecia (hereditary thinning or baldness) is the most common cause of hair loss, affecting approximately 80 million people in the U.S. Men with androgenic alopecia tend to develop a receding hairline, while women tend to keep their hairline but display a widening part.

Other hair disorders that cause thinning or baldness include:

  • Alopecia areata – an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own hair follicles, leaving rounded, smooth patches of hair loss on the scalp and body
  • Cicatricial alopecia – a rare disease in which scar tissue forms where hair follicles once were and the hair cannot be re-grown.

Stress, nutrition, hormones, and hair loss

Traumatic events in life, such as divorce or loss of a loved one, can be stressful enough to cause hair loss. Nutritional deficiencies in iron and protein can cause loss of hair, as can an excess of vitamin A in supplements and medications, or substantial weight loss.

Falling estrogen levels after childbirth causes hair loss in many women, although most see re-growth within a few months. Many women experience hair loss during menopause. Although the loss is often temporary, women over the age of 40 should not to expect to continue to have the same hair volume as they had when they were younger.

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