It is completely normal to lose around 50 to 100 strands of hair a day. Strands can come loose when you brush your hair, or you may find them scattered on your clothes and bed sheets. However, when you start noticing that your hair is thinning, or more hair than usual is falling out, it can be disheartening. In our society hair is a key aspect of our identities, and when we start to lose our hair, it begs the question—can hair loss be reversed?
1. Male/female pattern baldness
For men, male pattern baldness is the leading cause of hair loss. It is characterised by the pattern the hair loss creates: hair thins around the top of the head and by the temples, causing only a horseshoe of hair to be left around the base of the scalp. Male pattern baldness is hereditary, however, its exact cause is not known. Female pattern baldness is less common and hair usually only thins at the top of the head.
2. Weight loss
Crash dieting and extreme weight loss can cause hair loss due to several reasons. A lack of nutrients can mean that hair starts to fall out faster than it grows. Additionally, quick weight loss is generally fairly stressful for your body. While you may not feel mentally stressed, your body has to deal with a new way of function in a very short space of time. With this type of stress brings telogen effluvium—a widespread thinning of the hair. You’re unlikely to lose all of your hair, and once your body is stabilised hair growth should resume as normal within six months.
Alopecia areata is patches of baldness caused by a problem with the body’s immune system whereby it mistakenly attacks hair follicles. Hair can grow back but will be fine and white at first and may take a while to return to its normal state.
Scarring alopecia refers to permanent hair loss and occurs when follicles are damaged due to illness or skin problems.
4. Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes women to have excess ‘male hormones’ called androgens. While androgens can cause excess hair growth on the face and body, it can also cause the hair on your head to become thinner. Avoiding hair loss—and potentially promoting hair growth—is achieved by balancing hormones through diet, exercise and, in some cases, birth control pills.
Anything that involves excessive tugging of the hair is going to contribute to hair loss. It may not be obvious that what you’re doing to your hair is damaging it, but over time as more strands break or fall out, the problem will worsen. Clip-in extensions are often shunned by hair experts as they add weight to the hair while damaging strands at the roots. Using heated tools like straighteners and hairdryers on your hair too often will also cause strands to break off.
Treatments vary depending on the cause of hair loss. Most high street brands claiming to help hair grow won’t work for male/female pattern baldness or PCOS as they only strengthen hair to promote growth rather than stimulating follicles. As hair extensions can weaken hair roots, they are not recommended for people with thinning hair. Surgery can provide a permanent solution for baldness but can be expensive. A doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take and may be able to prescribe you medication or topical creams suitable for your condition.
Read more: Top Tips to Prevent Hair Loss