Medical Conditions that cause Hair loss
Your health can have a big impact on your hair, diseases, infections and deficiencies all contribute to the problem of hair loss
Common causes of hair loss
While Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Baldness are the main reasons for hair loss, there are many other causes that can trigger this distressing condition. A lot of them are curable or at least, manageable with the right diagnosis and approach to treatment. Some will even correct themselves given time and a helping hand.
To grow well, your hair requires an adequate supply of blood and oxygen, combined with good nutrition and a clean, healthy environment. However, certain illnesses and diseases can interfere with the hair’s growth cycle, several may be unavoidable and are inherent through our genetic make-up, such as diabetes, heart conditions, hormonal problems including hyperthyroidism.
Some common causes of hair loss can be traced back to an infected scalp, or a skin disease that can leave the scalp inflamed. An fungal infection that has gone untreated will spread and inhibit hair growth.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing sudden hair loss/ thinning as there may be an underlying health issue that needs medication or further tests.
This is an auto-immune disorder, where the body’s immune system cells cause inflammation to the hair follicles — it causes sudden hair loss and can be one of the severest forms of hair loss. Symptoms can range from an isolated bald spot, to several bald spots, a small number of people will lose all their hair.
Normally, the immune system will attack the cause of an infection, but unfortunately, sometimes it seems to confuse its purpose and damages the hair follicles instead, causing Alopecia Areata.
What are the causes:
Long term chronic stress: while rarely a direct cause, stress can be the catalyst that triggers the disease —prolonged periods of stress will increase the chance of genetically influenced diseases.
Sudden extreme stress or trauma: For some people a sudden shock or physical trauma can cause an adverse reaction from your immune system and lead to hair loss.
Genetic Influence: Alopecia Areata can be influenced by your genetic make-up, it has been shown to pass down between generations.
Viral/bacterial infection: A virus infection of the immune system such as HIV can be a trigger for Alopecia Areata as can other bacterial infections.
Pregnancy: The stress and hormonal changes that take place during and after pregnancy are another cause of hair loss for some women, though it usually rights itself, once the body settles back into a balanced more normal state.
Allergies: A history of allergic reactions and asthma attacks, has been seen to increase the risk of triggering Alopecia Areata.
Chemicals and medication: It is well documented that chemotherapy, anti-virals, thyroid medications and hormone regulators like birth contraceptives can cause Alopecia Areata. In many cases once the defined cause is stopped, hair will regrow to varying degrees.
Other autoimmune conditions: Other conditions that are known to compromise the immune system include: Thyroiditis, Diabetes, Vitiligo, Down’s Syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis.
Treating Alopecia Areata
In the more temporary cases of this condition, ie when it’s been caused by sudden stress or pregnancy, or virus that has been successfully treated, or the end of chemotherapy; hair will show signs of regrowth within 3 months in line with the natural hair growth cycle. By removing these causes of Alopecia Areata, recovery is usually good.
Other causes will need treatment to encourage hair to grow back, there are a wide range of options to kick start the process and the results vary on an individual basis. Some may respond well to Minoxidil based treatments.
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Hair Loss and Anaemia
Usually related to iron deficiency in the blood, which in turn impairs it’s ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles.
In time, this will result in hair follicles thinning and hair will fall out. Women are especially prone to this cause of thinning, falling hair.
What are the causes:
• Poor diet
• Excessive dieting
• Chronic conditions
• Intestinal disorders
• Family history
Iron Deficiency Anaemia is the most common type of Anaemia, vitamins and minerals can help
• Vitamin C
Prevent iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency by adjusting your diet to include vitamin B-12 rich foods such as red meat.
Beans, dried fruit and seeds are good for iron content too
Eat fruits high in Vitamin C, this will help your body to absorb iron
Importantly, choose a vitamin and mineral supplement to supply a complete nutrient regime for healthy hair growth and general well-being
Please do consult your doctor if you think you may be suffering from Anaemia, you will usually feel fatigue and weakness and may already be experiencing hair loss. A quick test is to gently pull down the lower lid of your eye and check the colour of the inner edge. Anaemia sufferers will have very pale pink skin under here, while if you have normal iron levels, it should appear a healthy darker red.
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Hair Loss through Diabetes
It is a long established fact that the hormone imbalance caused by Diabetes results in hair loss of varying degrees in the majority of suffers. Diabetes leads to poor circulation, which in turn restricts the amount of nutrients and oxygen reaching the hair follicles, resulting in dramatic thinning of the hair and bare patches.
Because of the many implications of changing your diet and trying hair loss treatments, as a diabetic, you should always seek medical advice first.
More Information about diabetes
Chemotherapy and Hair Loss...
It is a difficult time when you have to undergo Chemotherapy, not only does it make you feel physically ill, but it frequently results in severe hair loss too, which undermines your confidence and can be psychologically disturbing.
Many chemical treatments and drugs result in the loss of hair, because many rapidly growing cells are targeted in these treatments, sometimes hair follicles are damaged in the process.
How to cope
Get a trendy wig to get you through those early days, find a salon that will style it in your usual style or buy one of the excellent pre-styled ones that are available.
Cut your hair short before it comes out, then it won’t be so hard to come to terms with when it starts falling out.
When the medics have given you the all clear, you can consider many of the natural treatments available to help speed up the re-growth of your natural hair and keep it thick.
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Thyroid related Hair Loss...
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition which means your thyroid glands are unable to produce sufficient hormones for your body’s metabolism.
Symptoms can include fatigue, depression, sluggishness, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, dry skin and hair loss.
Seek medical advice as soon as you suspect there may be a problem, if the condition is not treated early, it can lead to goitre (enlarged thyroid gland in the neck), memory loss and myxedema.
Hair loss as a result of Thyroid problems is caused by the thyroid’s inability to provide the hormones necessary for proper metabolism. This impairs the growth of the hair follicles and they lose their supply of proteins and amino acids, can’t absorb vital vitamins and minerals and as a result are unable to grow properly.
Ensure your thyroid condition receives the right medication before considering treatment for hair loss. Stabilising the hormone levels is a priority and this can also lead to a reversal of the hair loss.
Then to speed up the process, you are better looking at natural therapies for helping hair regrowth. Avoid DHT inhibitors or growth stimulators like Minoxidil.
More Information about Thyroid related hairloss
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Hair Loss...
Hair loss caused by PCOS affects millions of women worldwide. Symptoms can include irregular periods, weight problems, acne and alopecia (hair loss).
There is no cure so far for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed, though the medications themselves can have side effects which also include hair loss.
PCOS is caused by hormonal abnormalities, when women produce too much testosterone in their ovaries, which leads to an irregular monthly cycle. These hormonal fluctuations lead to hair loss and unfortunately, the medication given to regulate the menstrual cycle, can give rise to further hair loss.
However, there are many hair loss treatments available to promote hair growth and counteract the negative effects of PCOS.
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Traction Alopecia Hair Loss...
The long list of casualties includes Naomi Campbell, her hair loss condition is a type called ‘Traction Alopecia’.
This is usually the result of hair styles which involve pulling and securing hair into shape such as braiding or corn rows.
Traction alopecia often shows as distinct patches of hair loss in those areas where the hair and hair follicles have been put under excessive strain.
The hair loss may occur anywhere on the scalp depending on the nature of the hair style or process that is causing the traction, but the frontal hairline is the most common area where traction alopecia is seen.
Unfortunately, a common response by women suffering from traction alopecia is to try to increase the length and volume of their hair, is to start wearing hair braid extensions. These are usually tightly attached to the person’s remaining natural hair. This in turn puts more strain on the healthy hair follicles , which then atrophy resulting in further hair loss until a point is reached where there is virtually no hair remaining.
What is Traction Alopecia
In the early stages traction alopecia is a temporary and reversible form of hair loss and simply avoiding hair styles that put excessive strain on the hair will allow any lost hair to grow back normally. If, however, the pulling on the hair continues for a long period of type – typically 3 years or more – it eventually leads to the formation of fibrosis and scar tissue within the affected hair follicles resulting in a permanent inability for those follicles to produce new hair under any circumstances.
Advice to prevent Traction Alopecia
The best way to prevent traction alopecia is simply to avoid hair styles that put excessive strain on the hair. Alternatively, if braids or corn rows are worn ensure that the pressure is taken off the follicles by gently lifting the hair slightly away from the scalp using a tail comb. This will give the required hairstyle, but without the danger of it causing permanent hair loss.
Finally, if your hair style is so tight that you can feel the strain on your scalp there is a real danger it will lead to hair loss to some degree.
In many cases it is possible to reverse this confidence affecting problem. Apart from following the above advice to prevent any further hair loss through traction alopecia, sufferers should actively select a treatment to encourage new growth and speed up the hair recovery. This is best achieved by feeding the hair from within with the right vitamins and minerals and topically, to cleanse the scalp and nourish the roots. Choose a specially formulated hair supplement and a hair loss treatment .
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Tinea Capitis (Fungal Infection) Hair Loss...
This is a fungal infection of the scalp, caused by a fungus called Dermatophytes. More common in children and can lead to infected sores known as Kerion.
This fungus thrives in warm, moist places, usually outside. The risk of getting a fungal infection increases if your scalp is not kept clean, sweating for a long periods, cuts to the skin.
It is infectious, easily spread between people and is one of the reasons why hairdressing equipment must be kept scrupulously clean.
If left untreated Tinea Capitis can cause round, scaly lesions on your scalp. Red and inflamed areas of scalp, bald patches, itching and in extreme cases, pus filled lesions known as Kerion.
Prolonged itching and inflammation will result in scarring, damage to hair follicles and inevitably hair loss.
Seek medical advice as soon as you suspect you may be suffering from Tinea Capitis. A course of treatment will be prescribed consisting of a topical cream, oral medication and anti-fungal shampoo. You should not try to treat this condition yourself, to avoid unnecessary scarring and hair loss.
Do not share hats, brushes, combs, pillowcases etc and make sure you wash brushes and combs in the anti-fungal shampoo too.
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