Healthy adults normally shed 50 -100 hairs each day. Some loss of hair is quite normal; hair drops out because a new hair grows under it. Other types of hair loss can result from hormone imbalances.
Male pattern baldness involves thinning hair on the scalp with or without a receding hairline.
In older women, thinning of hair in general, but mainly at the crown, is called female pattern baldness.
Sudden loss of patches of hair (known as alopecia areata), can occur in children or adults of any age. This disorder may result in complete baldness, but in about 90 percent of cases the hair returns, usually within a few years.
It is not known why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter life than others, but genetics are undoubtedly an important factor.
Temporary hair loss can occur due to stress, illness, thyroid disorder, iron deficiency, hormonal imbalance, following childbirth, and as a reaction to general anaesthetics and other medications. In these circumstances, a large number of hair follicles suddenly go into a resting phase, causing hair to thin noticeably, although the hair may not fall out until 2-3 months after the event.
Drugs that can cause temporary hair loss include chemotherapy agents used in cancer treatment, anticoagulants, retinoids used to treat acne and skin problems, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and oral contraceptives.
Hair loss can also be caused by exposure of the hair or scalp to burns, x-rays, scalp injury, and certain chemicals (including those used to purify swimming pools, and to bleach, dye, and perm hair). Normal hair growth usually returns once the cause is eliminated.
The causes of alopecia areata, which often strikes children or teenagers, remain unexplained. In most cases the hair grows back, although it may be very fine and possibly white before normal colour and thickness return. A stressful event may trigger this condition and it is slightly more common in people with diabetes and pernicious anaemia.
Although frequent washing, permanent waves, bleaching and dyeing hair do not cause baldness, they can contribute to overall thinning by making hair weak and brittle. The hair usually grows back when the damaging practice is stopped.
Dietary mineral deficiencies have also been implicated in hair loss, particularly deficiency of zinc, selenium, silica and copper.
A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is recommended to ensure you are getting all the nutrients necessary for healthy hair; (Hint: try to get one containing biotin)
The delicate balance of oils on the scalp is maintained by essential fatty acids; try supplementing your diet with Evening Primrose and Fish Oils to improve your hair health
Rosemary has traditionally been used to improve the health of the hair and scalp – try adding the essential oil to your shampoo or blending it with jojoba oil and massaging it into the scalp
For healthy hair and scalp, ensure that your diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, and that you are eating some protein every day.
A balanced diet will ensure your hair receives sufficient nutrients to stay strong and healthy. Make time in your life for regular relaxation practices such as Tai chi, yoga, and massage.
Tearing out one’s own hair, a disorder known as trichotillomania, is seen most frequently in children.
If you have excessive hair loss, discuss it with your healthcare professional, who can determine whether it is cause for concern and investigate the reasons behind it.
Prescription drugs are available which may promote hair growth on previously bald areas. Talk to your healthcare professional to determine whether they are suitable for you.