What is hair loss?
- Sudden onset occasional hair loss known as acute telogen effluvium
- Gradual and prolonged hair loss known as chronic telogen effluvium
- Hair loss associated with hormonal issues in relation to the genetic landscape, or androgenetic alopecia
- And finally, with age, a loss of hair density and mass, known as age-induced or senescent alopecia.
All of these hair loss types are different because they are caused by different modifications in the hair cycle and, therefore, require different treatments.
Daily hair loss may be seen as trivial, but it can cause great psychological distress in patients. As a result, it is a common reason for consulting a dermatologist. Objective: to find the cause, or causes, of the hair loss. That being said, identifying the source of an ailment is not always easy, and this despite the common factors...
A closer look at occasional hair loss
The different types and causes of occasional hair loss
- Seasonal hair loss. Just as the autumn leaves fall from the trees, temporary hair loss may occur at the start of spring or autumn.
- Stress- or fatigue-induced hair loss. When faced with an emotional shock, intense stress or anxiety, the body responds in different ways. Hair loss can be one such reaction.
- Hair loss associated with a dietary deficiency. When the body, including the scalp, lacks vitamins and minerals, hair becomes fragile and can easily fall out. This is the body’s way of sounding the alarm: it needs a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins, protein and minerals such as iron and zinc.
- Postpartum hair loss. Hormones are a factor in the hair’s life span. As a result, many women notice an improvement in the quality and growth of their hair during pregnancy. What is behind this? Higher estrogen levels. After pregnancy, however, the drop in estrogen may trigger changes in the hair cycle and lead to hair loss. This is referred to as “postpartum” hair loss.
- Hair loss associated with a medicinal treatment. Certain aggressive cancer treatments, mainly chemotherapy or radiation therapy, often cause hair loss. This loss is temporary, as the hair grows back at the end of the treatment.
A closer look at chronic hair loss
Chronic hair loss may also begin following a high fever, a hemorrhage, a surgery, major stress, a thyroid hormone imbalance, or a low-calorie diet. Once the triggering factor has been identified and eliminated, chronic hair loss of course begins to show improvement. Approximately 6 months will pass before we begin to see any regrowth, and it could take between 12 and 18 months* for the hair to grow back completely.
A closer look at the symptoms of androgenetic alopecia
The most common form of androgenetic alopecia is baldness, and the mechanism by which it manifests is hormonal and involves the androgen receptors found in the dermal papilla. These receptors are stimulated by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an active metabolite of testosterone. This stimulation of the androgen receptors by DHT in the hair follicle causes its miniaturization and the appearance of short, thin hair. Alopecia is usually a gradual process. This type of alopecia affects 29% to 42% of women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 40 years***. Little is understood about the root cause of this condition. Daily loss is generally low (fewer than 100 hairs per day), but women are highly affected, complaining of a gradual thinning around the temples and of a reduction in hair mass.
A closer look at hair aging or age-induced alopeciaThis type of alopecia is observed in patients over 60 and is characterized by a thinning of the hair as well as a loss of density and volume in people with no issues of hair loss in their history or in their family history.
How to slow down hair loss known as alopecia
- To start, do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist, skin and scalp specialist, or your primary care physician. Is it occasional hair loss, chronic hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, or age-induced alopecia? A healthcare professional will be able to provide the right diagnosis and advise you on the best treatment and care.
- At home, swap your usual overly harsh hair care products for gentle solutions. From shampoo to conditioner, anti-hair loss lotion and more, the objective is to keep your scalp healthy.
- Similarly, you must manage your hair with the utmost care. Avoid aggressive brushing and overly tight updos that pull the hair, causing it to break and fall out. If you feel your hair is becoming fragile, stop dyeing it for a while.
- Treat yourself to a daily scalp massage. Two minutes is enough to stimulate blood flow to the hair, bringing with it all the nutrients it needs to grow.
- Watch what you eat. Diet plays a crucial role in hair loss. To prevent loss, the hair needs a lot of vitamins and minerals.
- During major seasonal changes, such as spring and autumn, begin taking dietary supplements. Those containing vitamins and minerals can be a good complementary therapeutic option thanks to their key role in the hair’s physiology.
* Source: Vañó-Galván S1 et al 2019 Skin appendage Disorder
** Source: Blume-Peytavi U et al 2018 JEADV
*** Source: Blume-Peytavi et al., 2011; Norwood, 1975