Unnatural Hair Loss
A closer look at the non-genetic causes of hair loss in both men and women
Hair loss, or Alopecia, occurs in both men and women for reasons that are not always genetic. In normal growth, hair goes through a cycle of three main phases. The Anagen phase is also known as the growing phase. This is when you experience the most hair growth. The Catagen phase is a brief transitional phase, and is a precursor to the third and final Telogen phase. This last part of the hair growth cycle is also known as the resting phase, and lasts up to 3 months. It is more commonly the period in which people experience some hair loss.
There are many hereditary factors influencing hair loss, and if balding is in your family, it is safe to assume you might experience the same in your lifetime. However, genetics plays only a partial role. In this article we will shed light on a few of the non-genetic causes of hair loss.
Causes of Hair Loss During the Growth Phase
This is the most common cause of non-genetic hair loss because of the drugs used in treatments to combat cancer. Chemotherapy medication affects the hair follicles, and leads to the shedding of healthy hairs. Each individual will experience hair loss differently, with some having only the hairs on their heads affected, while others lose the hair all over their bodies. Radiation treatment to the head could also lead to hair loss, and depending on the level of treatment received, regrowth could be entirely different to what the hair looked like before the radiation.
Loose Anagen Syndrome
This syndrome is a genetic condition in which young children lose their hair, and affects mostly females. People with Loose Anagen Syndrome often present with sparse and/or low calibre hair, and often experience loss in the growth phase, or Anagen phase, of the hair cycle. Although this is something that affects young children, the defective anchoring of the root can persist into adulthood. Hair might grow longer with time, but generally will remain sparse and easily plucked from the scalp. This is due to the structure of the follicle and hair shaft. Click here to read more about the physiology of hair structure and growth.
Alopecia Areata, or spot baldness, is a rare condition that affects about 1% of the population, and affects men and women alike. It is a hereditary stress condition that causes an individual’s immune system to attack the hair follicles. This causes injury and damage, which then leads to loss of hair. Balding occurs in small patches on the scalp, but there have been cases where individuals have lost all the hair on their heads. Follicles usually heal over time and the hair grows back, since the injury sustained from the condition is only temporary. Follow this link to read more about hair follicles and what makes hair grow.
This type of hair loss is also brought about by the immune system that attacks hair follicles, but unlike Alopecia Areata mentioned above, the follicles are completely destroyed, and hair loss is permanent. This is due to hair follicles being replaced with scar tissue, making it impossible for regrowth to occur. Scarring occurs under the surface of the skin, so cannot be seen on the scalp, but people who suffer from this condition usually experience burning or itching sensations, with a little redness at the affected areas. Although this type of hair loss is permanent, there are several hair replacement treatments available to help you achieve a full and healthy head of hair.
This condition is also known as Hair Pulling Disorder, and is closely related to high levels of anxiety in individuals. Commonly presenting in childhood and persisting through adulthood, it mostly affects women, who are likely to pull at their hair more frequently during periods of stress or anxiety. This constant pulling action causes injury and damage to the follicles, which then leads to hair loss. People with Trichotillomania often have accompanying disorders, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. A good preventative measure for this condition would be to adopt healthy management methods that reduce the levels of stress or anxiety experienced.
Traction Alopecia occurs when hair follicles are damaged through constant strain being applied directly to them. For instance, when people attach braids and other types of hair extensions, the follicles and shafts become fatigued over time. This results in hair loss that is permanent. Hair requires a healthy, strong follicle in order to grow, and with Traction Alopecia the follicles become too worn out to effect new growth. In cases such as this where permanent hair loss is experienced, there are several solutions—like hair transplants—that will help you achieve a healthy head of hair. You can read more about hair follicles and growth here.
Heavy Metal Poisoning
When there is a very high amount of certain metals in the blood, it can cause loss of hair. These dangerous metals include mercury, arsenic, copper, and boric acid, and can find their way into the bloodstream in various ways. For instance, fish like seabass and tuna are both high in mercury. When eaten often and in large quantities, traces of mercury will build up in the blood. this metal then goes on to cause severe damage to the hair follicles, which in turn leads to significant hair loss. If heavy metal poisoning is suspected, a simple blood test will be able to diagnose the condition, and curative measures will be put in place.
At the Hair, Skin & Wellness Clinic great care is taken to determine the exact type of hair loss an individual is experiencing, so that the proper solutions can be applied. These include hair replacement and restoration treatments, as well as hair transplants. Book a consultation with Dr. Nel in Dublin today to find the cause of your hair loss, and the best way forward to a full and healthy head of hair.