Reasons for Hair Loss
Throughout the ages, healthy hair has always been a sign of both vitality and attractiveness for both men and women. Today’s competitive job market seems to lean towards candidates of a younger status and studies have shown that attractiveness positively impacts one’s earning potential. Therefore, the loss of hair can be detrimental not only to one’s self image, but can involve many other social and economic factors as well. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss affects over 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States alone, making hair loss an issue for both sexes.
While there are many reasons for both temporary and permanent hair loss, some of the most common factors are: hormonal changes, aging, diet, illness, medications, genetics, and stress. Unfortunately, some of these reasons are out of our control. Determining the cause of hair loss is a good start in finding the solution that best suits your needs. A hair restoration specialist can help you determine the cause for your hair loss and give you back the hairline of your youth.
So what is hair? Hair is considered part of your skin and has 3 specific cycles: anogen (growth phase), catogen (short transitional phase) and telogen (resting phase). At any given time, about 90 percent of your hair is in the anagen phase, which lasts roughly 3 years. The remaining 10 percent or so is in the telogen phase (lasting 3-5 months) which is when the follicle sheds. Your hair grows in groups called follicular units, which is a grouping of strands; on average there are 1-4 strands per follicular unit. An average head contains about 100,000 hair follicles and hair grows about a half an inch a month. For Caucasians, it is considered normal to lose about 100 hairs a day, Asians lose about 80-120 hairs a day and Africans lose between 60-100 hairs a day.
The most common (99%) cause of hair loss for males is androgenic alopecia, otherwise known as male pattern thinning. This cause is due to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) acting on genetically susceptible scalp hair follicles that caused them to become progressively smaller and eventually disappear. This process is called “miniaturization.” DHT causes male hair loss by shortening the growth, or anagen phase of the hair causing decreased size of the hair follicles, and producing progressively shorter, finer hairs. Eventually, these hairs totally disappear. This sensitivity to DHT is characteristic of hair follicles that are positioned in the front, crown, and top of the scalp-rather than the back and the sides of the scalp.
In men with Male Pattern Thinning, hair loss can occur in a range of patterns illustrated in the Norwood-Hamilton Scale. This scale is used by hair restoration specialists in assessing hair loss patterns and in treatment plans for hair loss. Degrees of hair loss can range from barely noticeable and starting in the front and progressing to the both the front and the back.
For females, there are many different reasons for hair loss which can include: genetic female pattern hair loss, hormonal changes, iron deficiency, medication use, thyroid disease, weight loss, and menopause. We always screen women with blood tests for nutritional and hormonal imbalances that can lead to hair loss before any consideration is made for a surgical treatment. In female pattern balding there is a progression from the middle of the scalp outwards as shown below.