When someone notices that their hair is falling out, the first thing they ask is “Why?” Many assume that ‘male-pattern baldness’ is the reason. However, it can also happen in women. You might not know that there are many reasons someone’s hair could fall out.
Recently we spoke with Dr. Alan J. Bauman, the founder, CEO and Medical Director at Bauman Medical in Boca Raton. His reputation precedes him. He is a pioneer in hair transplant surgery and has performed more than 8,000 procedures. He was also a founding faculty member of the Global Hair Loss Summit where he shared unprecedented insights into his expertise in the field of regenerative medicine and hair transplantation.
He is the one who can list the most common causes of hair loss. You might be surprised by some of these entries.
The Genetic Roll Of The Dice
You can’t choose your parents, and the same applies to your genes. Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) is more commonly known as “male pattern baldness” and it affects many people, both men and women.
There are approximately 200 genetic markers that have an impact on hair and hair growth. These genes are passed down by your mother, father, or both. If you are unlucky enough not to have one of these genes, your hair will be more sensitive than normal to the body’s natural hormones.
This gene gradually reduces the size of the follicles, and you’ll see the typical pattern baldness (recessive hairline, thinned hair, and/or crown baldness).
What can be done?
A genetics test can be done if you have relatives who are at risk of losing their hair. You can seek expert advice and begin preventative treatment before your hair falls out.
A variety of autoimmune conditions, including alopecia universalis and Hashimoto’s, Graves, Crohn’s, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis can lead to partial or complete hair loss. Alopecia areata is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles. This causes the hair to fall out in clumps and leaves bald patches on the scalp. This can lead to total baldness, loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic hair, as well as complete thinning.
It is important to remember that hair loss can be caused by the medication used to treat the disease.
Refer to your doctor for a remedy. In Dr. Bauman’s office, you can get traditional hair transplantation as well as eyelash, eyebrow, and even pubic hair-transplants.
What are you taking?
Look in your medicine cabinets. What medicines are you currently taking? This does not only include prescribed drugs, but also supplements. Many medications have hair loss listed as side effects. These include blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs and some blood pressure medications.
Anti-cancer drugs can cause hair loss. It is quite common to lose all hair on the body.
Sometimes, hair loss can occur when you stop taking certain medications. Some birth control pills, for example, can lead to thicker, healthier hair. However, if you stop taking them, it can cause hair loss.
You should check for side effects and consult your doctor if necessary.
What are you eating? Or Not?
It seems that there is a new diet out every day. Fad diets, such as South Beach, Paleo and Ketogenic, are often very restrictive in terms of one or more aspects. Obligatory diets that restrict carb intake, eliminate grains, or exclude dairy can cause deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
Hair follicles may go into hibernation if certain nutrients are depleted. Hair strands become brittle and die, so no new hair can grow in their place.
A nutritionist or dietitian can help you ensure a balanced diet which provides the nutrients, antioxidants, zinc, Vitamin B, protein, and biotin that you need for healthy hair.
How do you train?
Endogenous testosterone is produced more if your resistance training and weight training are too intense. This can lead to DHT and hair loss. It’s completely unfair, we know. You could end up partially bald because you are deprived of the very things you desire from exercise – lean muscle mass and healthy libido, as well as increased energy, brain function, and energy. Balance is what you should be looking for.
Inhibiting 5-AR (5-alpha reductase) is necessary to stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT. 5-AR inhibitors include dutasteride, finasteride and herbal products such as Saw Palmetto. You can even relax and do some shredding.
Do you smoke?
Hair loss may be the reason you need to stop smoking. Smoking can accelerate age-related changes in your body. This reduces blood flow to your skin, and hair follicles. This means that vital nutrients and oxygen can’t reach their destination.
Studies show that smoking has a negative effect on baldness. Be aware, however, that vaping can also affect your blood flow.
Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor if you are unable to quit smoking by sheer willpower. Do it for your entire body, not just your hair falling out.
Do you sleep well?
Many people forget that sleep is a basic necessity of our lives. Although it’s fine to have an occasional late night, if you are chronically sleep-deprived, suffer from jet lag, work night shifts, or have a condition such as insomnia, your hair could be affected.
Scientists believe that if your body’s circadian rhythm gets disrupted, it can cause a disruption in your hair follicle cycles. This can lead to hair loss, or even complete shedding.
For a diagnosis of sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnoea consult a sleep specialist. Change any bad habits like gaming in the early hours and using your phone while you’re sleeping.
Are you stressed?
No surprise, stress can cause havoc in our bodies. Sometimes, we experience acute symptoms like headaches or rashes. Other impacts can last for a longer time and are more chronic.
Elevated cortisol levels can be caused by stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is responsible for elevated stress levels. Its evolutionary function is to prioritize bodily functions that are absolutely necessary for survival. Hair growth doesn’t fit into this category. A chronically stressed body can cause hair loss by reducing hair follicle activity and causing hair to fall out.
Stress does not mean being stressed about working hard or having to deal with messy divorce. There are also physiological stresses such as excessive exercise, long-term yoyo dieting and extreme sleep deprivation.
It is not easy to deal with stress. But proactive steps you can take include consulting with your doctor or a psychiatrist, trying meditation/mindfulness, or simply setting aside some time each day to do something that relaxes you – whether it be a long walk, exercise or simply reading a good book.
Is your scalp healthy?
You might notice flakiness, redness and hair fall if your scalp is inflamed. Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. Scientists are now able to show that scalp inflammation is linked with hair loss, poor hair growth and genetic hair loss.
If you experience any symptoms, consult your doctor or hair loss specialist. You may have scalp folliculitis. You can use medicated shampoos or conditioners to treat your condition. Or you could try injectable drugs, topical steroidal or non-steroidal treatments, and antibiotics.
The COVID Effect
COVID-19 is responsible for so many other things. It’s also responsible for hair loss. Dr Bauman says that there is an increase in patients who present with “shock hair loss”, also known as “dread shed”.
However, this is not only a Coronavirus issue. A person can experience disruption in the normal cycle of their hair’s follicles if they have a fever for more than a few weeks. Two-to-six weeks after the fever starts, hair begins to fall around six to eight weeks later. The worst symptoms appear around six to eight weeks later. This cycle continues for an additional eight weeks.
This is a type of hair fall that causes hair to fall out in clumps and is known as ‘post-febrile Telogen Efluvium’. Patients don’t have to go completely bald. Hair will eventually regrow.
Consult a specialist if you notice any signs of hair loss due to prolonged fever. Treatments can be used to stop or reduce the shedding as well as speed up the growth.