Understanding hair loss

By Swindon Link - 22 March 2023

Health and Beauty

Hair loss can be experienced by any gender and at any age. It can be a very traumatic thing to go through and ranges from temporary shedding to irreversible cases of alopecia. Understanding the underlying causes and knowing where to seek help are key.

Have you started to lose your hair?

According to the NHS, it’s typical to lose around 50-100 hairs a day and this tends to go unnoticed. If you are losing more than this, there may be an underlying cause at play. You might notice more hair on your pillow, or balding patches on your scalp, for instance.

The types of hair loss

There are many different types of hair loss, but some occur more commonly than others.

Alopecia is a common type and comes in different forms. Androgenic alopecia occurs as we age or due to hereditary factors and involves the gradual thinning of hair all over our head. This is also known as male or female pattern baldness. While this type of hair loss is irreversible, there are some treatments available that can help to slow down the shedding. By contrast, alopecia areata causes us to lose patches of hair and is typically hereditary. Hair can grow back, but very sporadically.

Telogen effluvium, however is caused by environmental factors. It’s a type of temporary shedding that occurs after your body undergoes a shock. Shedding tends to last for three to six months and can grow back over time.

Why you might be losing your hair

There are multiple causes of hair loss, including stress, illness or deficiencies in vitamins like iron. Research shows that many Covid patients suffered from hair loss due to the strain the illness put on people’s bodies. Cancer patients, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy, experience hair loss as the body undergoes a shock.

On top of this, ageing can contribute to hair loss and hair thinning, as well as dramatic weight loss. These again, are linked to internal changes within the body causing your hair to shed.

What you can do to prevent or slow down hair loss

Adopting a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly or quitting smoking is a good start. This means your body will be getting the right vitamins while being put under less stress. Some people choose to remove themselves from stressful situations, perhaps by changing jobs.

To decrease the amount of shedding, be gentle with your hair and ensure you don’t wash it too frequently or tie it back in tight hair styles that put pressure on the follicles. You can also seek prescription hair loss treatment to help slow down any hair loss. The type of treatment you receive, whether that’s minoxidil or supplements, will depend on the type of hair loss you are experiencing, so make sure you get advice from a professional.

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