Why Am I Losing So Much Hair?
Losing large quantities of hair at a persistent rate is alarming and distressing. When this occurs, ignoring the hair loss and hoping it will correct itself is a normal way to respond. It takes a lot of courage to ask questions and seek help. If you are reading this blog, we want to congratulate you on having the courage to seek knowledge and advise on the potential causes of hair loss you are experiencing. Hopefully we can answer some of your questions and guide you in the right direction.
Losing about hundred or so hairs a day is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. Losing more than 100 – 150 hairs is abnormal and is symptomatic of a disruption of your hair growth cycle. The hair growth cycle consists of three stages:
Stage 1: Anagen – this is the growth stage, whereby hair (predominantly a collection of protein cells which gather in the hair bulb to formulate hair) is formed in the hair bulb and sprouts through the scalp. Hair continues to grow for between 2-6 years as it nourished by a continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen from the blood stream.
Stage 2: Catagen - after the 2-6 year period of growth in the Anagen stage, hair enters a transition phrase, known as the Catagen stage, as it prepares for a period of rest. During this phase of transition, which typically lasts between 2-3 weeks, hair detaches from its blood supply, preventing further growth.
Stage 3: Telogen – because the hair has not been in receipt of nutrients and oxygen for an extended period of time, the hair dies and falls, allowing for the hair bulb to undergo a period of rest from producing hair.
The hair growth cycle is an important function of hair growth. The hair growth cycle incorporates hair loss which is necessary to allow for the hair bulb to rest and recuperate thereby facilitating good hair production in the long term. Losing between 100- 150 strands of hair is necessary for good hair growth function and considered ‘healthy hair loss’. However, when hair loss increases beyond what is considered the healthy amount, intervention is required.
What Causes Hair Loss?
The causes of excess hair loss are varied and can range from hormonal imbalances, stress, medication and hair styling practices. We will address each cause in turn:
Hormone imbalances and disruptions are the dominant cause of the most common hair loss conditions such as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Baldness.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male Pattern Baldness occurs when the body produces a bountiful amount of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by product of testosterone. DHT minimises hair follicles over time until they are completely diminished causing permanent balding. DHT forces more hair follicles into the Telogen stage of the hair growth cycle than what is considered normal, causing hair loss to spread at a more alarming rate. Once a hair follicle has been reduced and eventually closed by DHT, it is not possible to reactivate hair growth.
Symptoms of Male Pattern Baldness manifest with hair thinning at the temples and in the middle of the head, gradually spreading outwards. It is important to act swiftly if you notice this pattern of hair loss and suspect you are suffering from Male Pattern Baldness to prevent permanent balding. An early diagnosis allows you to seek treatment which can prevent permanent balding and facilitate maintenance and continuum of the hair you have.
Female Pattern Baldness
Female Pattern Baldness is a genetic form of hair loss which is very similar to Male Pattern Baldness, but the pattern of hair loss and thinning is widespread over the entire scalp.
As women age, they can experience hormonal imbalances as the amount of estrogen (a feminine hormone) decreases, which results in excess testosterone in the blood stream. Because DHT is a by product of testosterone, when a woman has excess testosterone in their bloodstream, they become vulnerable to hair thinning and hair loss which is triggered by DHT. Women can prevent the spread of Male Pattern Baldness by seeking treatment and taking vitamins which can help to adjust hormonal imbalances which occur with age.
Stress can cause hair loss because it has a reductive impact on the circulation of blood around the scalp. Hair grows when blood circulates around the scalp and passes essential nutrients to the hair bulb, so, when the flow of blood is disrupted, this has a negative impact on hair growth. Hair loss conditions such as Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium can all be triggered by stress.
Alopecia Areata is caused by an autoimmune disorder which causes bald patches around the scalp and stress can be one of the triggers. The autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack hair follicles whilst in the growth (Anagen) stage which stops hair growth. The patchy hair loss is caused through inflammation as T cell lymphocytes (natural killer cells) cluster around affected hair follicles, causing hair to fall and the reproduction of keratin (hair) cells to cease.
Alopecia Areata is a very visible form of hair loss and it causes sudden and rapid hair loss which can be extremely distressing. Treatment which facilitates a reactivation of the productivity of the hair bulb (Anagen stage of the hair growth cycle) will help to restore hair which has been lost. Click here for effective treatment.
If your hair is falling out in clumps you probably have Telogen Effluvium, caused by stress or trauma. Stress and hormone imbalances can also have a disruptive effect on the hair growth cycle, potentially resulting in hair falling in clumps as well as hair thinning. Hair thinning or hair fall in clumps, up to six months after a traumatic or stressful event, is symptomatic of Telogen Effluvium, a form of hair loss caused by an anomaly in the hair growth cycle.
‘Telogen Effluvium’ occurs when Stage 3, the ‘Telogen’ stage lasts longer than 3 months and effects more than 30% of scalp hair after a period of stress or trauma. The trauma or stress affects the blood supply to the hair bulb adversely. The reduction of blood flowing around the scalp limits the amount of nutrients and oxygen that are passed to the hair bulb, hindering hair production (the Anagen stage). Consequently, the hair bulb remains in the Telogen Stage for a prolonged period of time, due to the lack of nutrients and oxygen which facilitate hair formation. This causes hair to fall, stop growing and become extremely thin.
Because Telogen Effluvium is a symptom of stress, it is a temporary form of hair loss that can last between 6 to 9 months. However, Telogen Effluvium can last longer if the stress and trauma is ongoing. Telogen Effluvium is classified as a temporary hair loss condition, but this doesn’t make it any less devastating. Severe hair thinning or hair fall in clumps exasperates an existing stressful situation and can have a damaging effect on self-esteem at a time when self-confidence is required to weather the storm of adversity. If you are suffering from Telogen Effluvium seeking treatment that reactivate the Anagen stage of the hair growth cycle is advisable, click here for more information on treatment.
Medication can have a corrupting and damaging effect on hair. Excessive use of prescription drugs can also cause hair loss because the chemicals get into your blood stream and are transferred to your hair bulb, contaminating your hair structure making hair brittle, thin and vulnerable to hair loss.
- Styling Practices
Colouring your hair, Chemically Straightening your hair, wearing hair extensions/weaves and tight ponytails have the potential to cause hair loss.
The process of changing your hair colour involves the hair shaft structure being temporarily altered which is achieved by raising hair cuticles that act as a protective shield around the hair shaft. When hair cuticles are raised they allow chemicals in the hair dye to penetrate the cortex (the core of the hair shaft). Raised hair cuticles release moisture from the hair shaft, causing hair to become dry whilst also exposing the cortex, making it vulnerable to damage and consequently hair breakage. Good conditioners and hair repair treatments can flatten hair cuticles raised because of hair colouring, restoring hair strength and preventing hair loss and breakage.
Hair is a collection of protein cells which are held together by three types of hair bonds: disulfide bonds, hydrogen bonds and ionic bonds. Hair bonds have a glue-like effect on protein cells (hair), maintaining the shape formed by the hair cuticle, whether they are straight, curly or coily. Because relaxing hair involves changing hair shape, the glue-like hair bonds which hold protein cells together, maintaining hair shape and structure must be broken. When hair bonds are broken or weakened hair becomes damages, weak and vulnerable to breaking and shedding, click here for more information and treatment for hair loss caused by chemical straightening/relaxing hair.
Hair Extensions, Weaves and Tight Ponytails
Hair styling techniques such as tight ponytails, cornrows, braids and weaves can cause a mechanical loosening of the hair follicle form the hair bulb causing hair loss, known as Traction Alopecia, click here for more information. Traction Alopecia can be easily prevented by avoiding the hair styling techniques which cause the gradual and persistent hair loss.
If you are suffering from Traction Alopecia, it is possible that you have caused trauma to the scalp and hair bulb due to the stress put on the hair follicle because of continual hair pulling. To recover from the trauma the hair bulb enters a prolonged period of the Telogen stage of the hair growth cycle, creating the appearance of visible balding on the scalp. In this instance hair growth can be re-established by moving the hair bulb from the Telogen stage to the Anagen stage through reactivation, this can be achieved with treatment, click here for more information.
Treatment for Hair Loss Caused by Hormone Imbalances, Stress Medication and Styling Practices
ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion is so effective at treating hair loss caused by hormone imbalances, stress, medication and hair styling practices because it works in tandem with the science of your hair’s growth cycle. ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Energising Shampoo and Lotion facilitates the reactivation of the Anagen (Growth) stage of the hair growth cycle, moving the hair bulb form the Telogen (hair fall) into the Anagen phase of the hair growth cycle by stimulating the reproduction of keratin cells in the hair bulb. This is achieved through revitalising hair follicles by increasing the rate at which blood flows around the scalp, passing nutrients to the hair bulb (microcirculation), thereby reducing hair loss and improves hair growth.