Factors and Medical Conditions that Cause Hair Loss in Men and Women

Hair loss is such a common occurrence that nearly 80 million Americans have a hair loss problem. Almost every family has a member with little or no hair on their scalp. When it happens to an older person, hair loss is considered natural. However, losing hair, especially among young persons and children is not normal (for the most part).

Kids lose about 100 hairs every day. That can be considered a normal occurrence considering the fact that an average human being has about 100,000 hairs. So, when is loss of hair considered an anomaly? Continue reading to learn the over one dozen causes of hair loss in both men and women. Learn how to effectively determine which condition affects you so that you can seek appropriate medical assistance.

Hair Growth Cycle

A human being can grow hair in almost every part of their body except for the palms and soles of the feet. There are known people with nearly 98% of their bodies covered by hair. Hair is produced in the follicle area of the skin.

Follicles produce hair almost throughout the year. They produce new hair while pushing out old hair cells. This creates a cycle that goes on till you die. Dermatologists (doctors who treat the skin) say that follicles are so active that 90% of the hair on your head is ever growing.

Natural Hair Loss

The cycle of hair growth in the human body can be divided into three phases:

  • Anagen-This is the first phases when hair is growing. It can last between two to six years; which explains why some people have longer hair than others.
  • Catagen-This is a transitional phase that represents new hair cells that only last for a few weeks. It represents hairs that only last for about two months before being replaced.
  • Telogen-The last two months before your hair is replaced. Hair often shortens.

As people age, their hair growth cycles becomes irregular. For some, the cycle stops in some areas of their body, making existing hair fall out.

Hair loss can occur naturally as stated above, or it can be influenced by a variety of reasons. Here are special factors that may increase the risks of hair loss.

Factors that Contribute to Temporary Hair Loss

  • Hormonal imbalances-The imbalance of certain hormones such as androgen can disrupt the hair production process. The presence of excess hair testosterone is also credited for causing temporary hair loss.
  • Genes-Children inherit all sorts of genes from both of their parents. This includes the genes that cause premature hair loss.
  • Accidents-When the part of your skin that produces hair gets damaged during an accident, hair production will temporarily be stopped until your skin heals. In some cases, hair production in the affected area could stop permanently.
  • X-ray procedures-Some people experience temporary hair loss after an X-ray. The electromagnetic radiation in an X-ray procedure is often powerful enough to disrupt the way follicles produce hair. But this only happens if the radiation caused was significant.
  • Cosmetic procedures-Some procedures such as bleaching weakens hair; causing it to shed prematurely. There are many cosmetic procedures that cause hair loss you should be aware of. The most common procedures are:
    • Hair dyeing
    • Frequent hair shampooing
    • Use of hot curlers
    • Use of perms.
  • Diet-The cells that make hair are generated from a protein called ‘Keratin.’ Consuming diets with too low amounts of proteins inhibits the productions of keratin. In turn, this affects the production of hair.
  • Drugs-Most cancer patients experience hair loss at some point of their treatment stages. The hair loss is often not caused by the cancer itself, but by the drugs used to control the effects of the disease. Drugs used to manage blood pressure as well as some birth control pills are also known to cause temporary hair loss.
  • Stress-Follicles, like any other parts of the human body, get affected by stress. Physical stress in the case of a car accident can cause an immediate disruption of the hair cycle. The effects of depression or trauma in your hair cycle may not become visible until several weeks later.
  • Pregnancy-Many women experience temporary hair loss after giving birth. Dermatologists claim that the process of giving birth can be traumatizing to women. This and an imbalance in hormonal levels can dramatically cause temporary cases of hair loss.
  • Excessive Vitamin A-The vitamin that helps improve eye vision, healthy skin and neurological function can also have the side effect of causing temporary hair loss. Excessive consumption of Vitamin A supplements also causes Jaundice, skin dryness and birth defects.
  • Anemia-Anemia is a common factor in diagnosing hair loss. Studies show that about 10% of women below the age of 49 suffer from Anemia, increasing their risks of losing hair. Anemia can be treated by taking several doses of iron supplements.

Medical Conditions that cause Hair Loss

There are about 20 medical conditions that can cause hair loss in men and women. Most of the conditions are incurable. But they can be managed. A few cannot and cause permanent loss of hair on the victim. Discover 12 of the most popular medical conditions that cause hair loss.

  1. Celiac Disease
  2. Celiac disease is a less-known digestive disorder caused by hypersensitivity to gluten. Gluten is the protein found in a variety of cereals such as wheat and oats. When the body can’t break down gluten, it produces toxins that attack parts of your small intestines. These toxins often target villi-the parts in the small intestines that help absorb food nutrients into the body. Failure to absorb food in turn opens a series of health problems, least among them being hair loss. Doctors say that celiac disease is a manageable hereditary disease.

  3. Male Pattern Disease
  4. Arguably the most popular hair loss disorder in men, the male pattern disease is medically known as androgenic alopecia. The disease is largely a hereditary disease. Androgenic alopecia is a resultant of male hormones, androgens, being unable to regulate hair growth. In hereditary cases, the disease has no side effects. The male pattern disease can also be caused cancer and thyroid medical issues. Excessive use of anabolic steroids is yet another known cause.

    Men whose closes relatives have androgenic alopecia have a high likelihood of suffering from the same. Fortunately, the condition can be managed naturally or through medical procedures.

  5. Alopecia Areata
  6. Alopecia Areata is a medical condition that causes hair to fall out in small, uneven circular patches. Unlike the male pattern disease, this condition is not hereditary. It’s also incurable. Alopecia Areata is caused by a defect in the body that causes your immune system to fight hair follicles. Depending on the extent of the condition, victims will experience hair loss in different parts of the body. Despite this, rarely will the condition cause total hair loss.

    Alopecia Areata can be managed. Its treatment comes in the form of drugs that boost fast hair growth in the areas it was lost and prevention of future hair losses.

  7. Hashimoto’s Disease
  8. Hashimoto’s disease is a medical condition closely related to Hypothyroidism. Technically, Hashimoto’s disease is one of the major causes of hypothyroidism. Being an autoimmune disease, the condition generates cells that attack thyroids. Thyroids are responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism and generating important hormones that affect the growth of hair. When destroyed, the victim develops a swollen neck-often known as goiter. In many cases, Hashimoto’s disease is not so dangerous as to affect hair loss. But when it happens, doctors can help you manage.

  9. Addison’s Disease
  10. Addison’s disease is caused by damage on the adrenal glands-disrupting the production of important hormones that promote hair growth. Adrenal glands produce many of the hormones your body needs to function properly. When some of these hormones, like cortisol, are not generated, your body reacts in a health-threatening manner.

    In most cases, your body reacts through stress, weaknesses in the muscles, cravings and irritability. These effects in turn disrupt the hair growth cycle. Since adrenal glands serve an extremely important role in the body, this disease should be taken seriously. Failure to treat Addison’s disease can lead to premature death.

  11. Systemic Sclerosis
  12. Yet another autoimmune disease, Systemic sclerosis affects your skin, muscles, lungs, the digestive system, the esophagus and the heart. Systemic Sclerosis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks any of the above tissues. Doctors note that this disease is very common among middle-aged people. In medical terms, the disease is caused by an overproduction of collagen; the main protein component in the body’s tissues.

    The disease has no cure, but there are treatments used to manage its effects. Treatment offered often depends on the type of symptoms a patient shows.

  13. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  14. SLE is one of the many autoimmune diseases that cause temporary or permanent hair loss. SLE is also the most common types of Lupus. It’s chronic in nature, meaning that its symptoms alternate between mild and worse. Doctors note that the actual cause of SLE is yet to be discovered. However, genetics, environment and hormones are treated as contributing factors. SLE often displays in many forms, including painful ulcers and arthritis. SLE lacks a cure, and its treatment only focuses on correcting such issues as hair loss.

  15. Lichen Planus
  16. Lichen Planus is a skin rash condition mainly caused by stress, genetics and allergens. It can also occur alongside other autoimmune diseases. Since it affects the skin, most of its symptoms happen on the skin. This includes itching, blisters, hair loss and lesions. Lichen Planus can occur when your body’s immune system attacks the skin membrane cells by mistake. Like most autoimmune diseases, the disease has no cure. There are, however, treatments to reduce skin inflammation and other treatments that cause your hair to fall.

  17. Hodgkin’s Disease
  18. Hodgkin’s disease is one of the few types of cancer that have hair loss as a symptom. Abbreviated as HD, the disease occurs when the body attacks cells found in the lymphatic system. The attacked cells serve the purpose of eliminating waste products in the body. Its symptoms include an itchy skin, night sweats, weight loss and lumps in different parts of the body. The lumps are often painful and hair may not grow in the affected region. HD is treated like most other forms of cancer: use of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

  19. Syphilis
  20. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria ‘Treponema Pallidum.’ Syphilis affects hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Contrary to popular belief, syphilis can only be transmitted through direct contact of Syphilitic infections. Its symptoms often do not reflect immediately but the disease could have adverse effects on the brain and heart. Hair loss in Syphilis occurs as a secondary, early stage symptom. Chronic effects of syphilis can lead to mental illness, blindness, an infection of the brain or stroke.

  21. Bamboo Hair
  22. Medically known as Netherton’s syndrome, this condition causes a victim’s hair to appear like the knots of a bamboo stick. Hair in healthy people is smooth. Among Bamboo hair patients, the hair is flaky, bumpy and has ridges that form evenly. The condition is hereditary and mostly affects the hair found on the scalp, eyelashes and the eyebrows. While the disease may cause loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, it mainly causes defects on the look of the hair in other body parts. The victim’s hair develops spikes. It becomes dry, short, sparse and rough.

    The main cause of the condition is weakness in the center part of hair strands. The weak spots are suppressed by harder parts above them, causing formation of nodes. This occurrence is common in some plants as well. Treatment for bamboo hair includes the use of lotions to dehydrate, antihistamines and antibiotics.

  23. Malnutrition
  24. Malnutrition is one of the few medical conditions that cause hair loss that could be prevented. When the body lacks some of all of the nutrients needed to stay healthy, it begins to self-destruct. The absence of vitamins, proteins, starch and water forces the body to use the nutrients stored in the muscles. It stops to form more muscles or store fat and instead relies on the body’s current muscles for energy. Malnutrition can often lead to death when not treated.