But there are many other causes of hair loss.
What causes hair loss?
There are three autoimmune conditions with unknown causes that can cause hair loss:
- Alopecia areata, which causes patchy hair loss on the scalp which may present in small 20c piece size patches.
- Alopecia totalis leads to complete scalp baldness and is not localised as alopecia areata.
- Alopecia universalis where one loses hair on their body as well as the scalp.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition which causes excessive sweating. It can lead to lactic acid secretion that harms the scalp and hair, leading to hair loss.
Some infections can cause patches of hair loss, such as tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp), a contagious fungal infection.
Medical treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer can cause hair loss such as anagen effluvium.
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder that causes people to compulsively pull out their hair from the scalp, brows, or elsewhere on their body.
Medications that can lead to hair loss include but are not limited to:
- Blood thinners
Other drugs that can cause hair loss include those used to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disorders
- Heart disease
Do certain hairstyles cause hair loss?
Styling can cause hair loss if the hair is excessively straightened, brushed, bleached or permed.
One particular type of hair loss, traction alopecia, occurs when hair roots are damaged from over-styling or pulling hair too tightly in hairstyles like ponytails, braids, or pigtails, leading to significant hair loss.
Does my diet cause hair loss?
There is no strong, scientifically-backed research or literature to say diet directly causes hair loss. However, poor nutrition resulting from unhealthy dieting or eating disorders may cause hair loss.
Can hair loss be caused by stress?
Yes, stress and hair loss may be related. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when the body has experienced a shock, causing the hair to temporarily stop growing.
It is normal to only notice hair loss about 3 months after the stressful event has occurred.
Why does hair loss occur at a young age?
Hair loss that occurs at a younger age may be a result of genetic factors, underlying medical conditions, or hormonal imbalances.
Can hair loss be a sign of something serious?
Hair loss most commonly occurs because of ageing or genetics. It may be a symptom of something more serious, including cancer, diabetes or lupus, but it’s best not to jump to conclusions.
If you’re worried about your hair loss, talk to your GP.
Is alopecia and hair loss the same thing?
Yes, alopecia is a fancy medical name for hair loss or baldness. It actually has an interesting origin story. The word alopecia comes from the Greek word for fox, ‘alopex’, which was often seen to exhibit hair loss or suffer from mange.