Your hair is made of a tough protein called keratin. A hair follicle anchors each hair into the skin.
Hair growth occurs in cycles consisting of three phases: growth, transition and resting phrases.
Hair loss, also known as alopecia or baldness, refers to a loss of hair from part of the head or body. Some forms of hair loss are temporary, while others are permanent.
Although everyone can experience hair loss, it is more common in men.
Causes of hair loss
1. Family history
The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition called male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness.
It starts with thinning of the hair and often progresses to complete hair loss on parts of the scalp.
2. Hormonal changes
A variety of conditions can cause permanent or temporary loss of hair, including hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems.
3. Medical conditions
Medical conditions like alopecia areata causes patchy hair loss. It is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss.
Fungal infections on the scalp such as ringworm (tinea capitis) can lead to round patches of hair loss.
Some medications damage the hair follicles thus disrupting growth at different stages. Hair loss can be a side effect of certain drugs, such as those used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure.
5. Radiation therapy to the head
Radiotherapy can cause your hair to fall out, but only in the area being treated.
If you have cancer of the head and neck, you will most probably need to undergo radiation therapy, where waves of energy are sent to kill cancer cells in and around the tumor.
Although the hair may grow back after the treatment is over, it may not grow back the same as it was before.
6. Stressful experience
Significant stress pushes large numbers of your hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
Some people also suffer from a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania as a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.
7. Certain hairstyles and treatments
Excessive hairstyling or hairstyles that pull your hair tight, such as pigtails or cornrows, can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia.
Hot oil hair treatments and chemical treatments can cause inflammation of hair follicles that leads to loss of hair. If scarring occurs, the loss could be permanent.
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