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Hair Loss: Causes & Treatments in 2024

hair loss causes treatments and prevention

According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), male pattern hair loss affects around half of men over the age of 50.

If you notice a build-up of hairs around the drain in your shower after shampooing or you find more strands in your brush, you could be experiencing some form of hair loss.

But what causes hair loss? And what treatments are available?

In this comprehensive guide to hair loss, we’ll answer these and other key questions.

  1. Hair loss causes
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Available treatments
  4. Prevention
  5. Long-term outlook

What illnesses cause hair loss?

Various, complex issues can cause hair loss, so it’s best to visit a doctor or dermatologist if you believe you may be losing more hair than usual.

They will examine your scalp and discuss your medical history to try to identify a reason for your shedding, such as one of the following causes.

1. Hereditary Hair Loss

Pattern baldness is the most common cause, inherited from one or more parents. It’s likely that you will show signs of pattern hair loss if it runs in the family.

Specific sex hormones, such as DHT hormone, can trigger hereditary hair loss at any age — even during puberty.

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2. Hormonal Fluctuations

Another potential catalyst for hair loss is hormonal changes, often due to:

  • Becoming pregnant
  • Giving birth
  • Menopause
  • Coming off the contraceptive pill
  • Loss of hair due to thyroid

3. Medical Conditions and Medications

Alternatively, physically or emotionally traumatic situations, illnesses, and surgery can trigger balding too. In these cases, though, hair may start to regrow over time without the need for treatment.

The following medical conditions can trigger hair loss:

alopecia areata

Medications may be responsible too, specifically those that treat:

  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Heart problems
  • Cancer

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4. Shock and Lifestyle Causes

You may start losing more hair than usual if you suffer a severe emotional or physical shock. This could be due to:

  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • An extremely high fever
  • Drastic weight loss

Other causes may not be due to medical conditions or treatments. One possibility is traction hair loss, which could be to blame if you wear tight hairstyles putting intense pressure on the follicles.

Alternatively, you may start losing hair if your diet lacks essential nutrients like iron and protein. Lastly, certain people go through seasonal hair loss which usually occurs in autumn.

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How Do Experts Diagnose Hair Loss?

A doctor or dermatologist will diagnose your hair after an in-depth examination and discussion about your health background.

If you have shed a lot of hair without an obvious explanation (e.g. traction alopecia), you may have an underlying issue that needs to be resolved.

Your doctor or dermatologist may recommend something simple, such as changing your diet or prescribing a different medication.

balding visible scalp

How Can You Treat Your Hair Loss?

Various treatments for hair loss are available:

1. Medication

Medications are often a first step in treating hair loss, with over-the-counter options including topical treatments applied directly to the scalp.

Minoxidil is the most common, available as Rogaine. However, you would need to keep using this consistently to achieve and maintain new hair growth.

Alternatively, you could try a prescription medication instead of an over-the-counter treatment. Finasteride is a popular option for men affected by pattern baldness and must be taken daily.

It may lead to increased hair growth and restore lost hair, but it can cause a number of undesirable side effects.

You could be given a corticosteroid, such as prednisone. These are designed to replicate the hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

They can cause immune-system suppression and a decrease in inflammation in people affected by alopecia areata.

However, it’s vital that you remain vigilant when taking corticosteroids for hair loss. They can lead to:

  • Fluid retention
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Raised blood sugar
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

It’s also believed that corticosteroids can increase your risk of:

  • Losing calcium from bones (potentially causing osteoporosis)
  • Infections
  • Sore throat
  • More bruising (due to thinning skin)

2. Hair Transplants

Hair transplantation is increasingly common. Surgeons extract healthy donor follicles from the back and sides of the scalp.

They implant these into thinning or bald areas to stimulate new growth. If you have advanced pattern hair loss, you may need multiple transplants.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is the most popular form of hair transplantation. This restores growth without visible scarring.

FUE2 hair transplant method

3. Scalp Reductions

A scalp reduction procedure involves cutting away the bald area of the scalp and then closing it with a piece covered with hair.

Alternatively, the surgeon may fold a section of the scalp with healthy hair growth over a bald area.

How Can You Prevent Hair Loss?

You can prevent your hair loss from getting worse in various ways:

  • Avoid tight hairstyles such as braids and ponytails
  • Use a gentle shampoo
  • Avoid heat styling tools
  • Don’t perm, bleach or colour your hair
washing hair

Can All Hair Loss Be Treated?

Some preventative measures and treatments for hair loss are more effective than others. Medications may stimulate new growth in one patient but not another.

Eating more iron and protein could prevent hair loss from progressing further, or it may not.

However, the latest techniques can achieve incredible results: the FUE2 method has success rates of 90 – 95%, and new hair will grow back within 12 – 18 months after the treatment.

Hair Loss FAQ

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss may occur due to a hereditary condition, medical issues, hormonal fluctuations, or as a natural part of the aging process. However, the most common cause is inherited hair loss combined with aging. While anyone may experience hair loss, it’s most common in males. 

Can you stop hair loss? 

Hair loss is preventable in the majority of cases, but it’s vital that you take action as soon as possible for best results. If your hair starts to fall out or becomes thinner on one or more areas of the scalp, seek professional advice immediately. 

How can I stop my hair loss?

Try the following tips to stop your hair loss:
● Use heated styling tools less often.
● Avoid hairstyles that put prolonged strain on hair and follicles (e.g. tight ponytails).
● Wash your hair with a mild shampoo formulated for your hair type. 
● Avoid bleaching or chemically treating your hair.
● Consider low-level light therapy, which may encourage hair growth.
● Brush with soft bristles, ideally made from a natural fibre. 

What amount of hair loss is normal?

We tend to shed between 50 and 100 hairs each day. You may notice your hair loss more if you have longer hair. 

Does an iron deficiency cause hair loss?

Iron deficiency can cause hair loss. This is because iron is crucial for producing hair cell protein, and without enough iron, hair growth can be affected.

Last medically reviewed on May 28th, 2024

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