Hair loss is becoming more and more common. It is a common complaint in my office.
Before we talk about what can cause hair loss, let’s talk about how hair grows.
Hair grows in cycles.
- The cycle begins with the anagen phase, where the hair is actively growing.
- Then we enter the catagen phase, which is an in-between phase; it signals the end of the active hair growth.
- The telogen phase is the third and resting phase of the hair follicle.
- Last is the exigent phase, where hairs are actively shedding from the scalp.
With that said, it is reasonable to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day as our bodies are continuously growing new hair and shed old hair.
Now let’s talk about potential causes of hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia is one of the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women. This is more commonly known as male pattern baldness, in which there are high levels of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds receptors in the hair follicle, resulting in a shortening of the anagen phase, which is the phase where the hair is actively growing. Hair loss affects the temples, frontal forehead and the crown of the head.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland, which is found in the neck, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. One of the many symptoms it causes is hair loss. Those with hypothyroidism might also have fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, and hair loss at the outer corners of the eyebrow.
Iron deficiency is when a person doesn’t have enough iron in the body, or their body doesn’t use iron properly. When severe, it can cause hair loss, shortness of breath, fatigue, and many other symptoms.
Believe it or not, but stress is another common cause of hair loss. The stress hormone cortisol affects the hair follicle’s function and cyclic regulation. Stress occurring because of hair loss can lead to further hair loss. It ends up being a vicious cycle between stress and hair loss.
By all means, this is not a comprehensive list. Other considerations are toxic metals, medications, autoimmune disease, mold exposure, nutrient deficiencies, etc.