By Paul Taylor
There are many possible causes of hair loss, so obviously it’s very important to find out exactly which type of disorder you have, and then get the right treatment. This page will help you to check whether your hair loss is what you think it is.
Simply ask yourself the questions below. Then follow the links to find out which condition most likely affects you.
types of hair loss are much more likely to develop in either men or
women (e.g., postpartum hair loss will definitely affect more women!). These gender differences are mentioned on each page where applicable.
This is the most common type of hair loss for both men and women.
In men, it usually develops into the familiar "male pattern baldness" profile – receding temples, a bald patch at the back, or both. However, some men might only experience gradual hair thinning from androgenetic alopecia.
In women, it usually develops as gradual thinning rather than severe baldness. It affects them in the same region as in men (i.e., front, back and crown) and this distinguishes it from the telogen effluvium conditions in the last section which involved thinning over the whole scalp.
Hair loss that develops gradually over many years could be one of the following conditions:
Telogen effluvium - Three versions of this disorder are explained, including acute telogen effluvium - this can be confused with alopecia areata (see last section) because both can develop very quickly. However, acute telogen effluvium causes thinning across the whole scalp (diffuse hair loss), whereas areata is more localized and severe (i.e., small bald spots and bald patches).
Chronic telogen effluvium - This is especially common in women, but can also apply to men. It develops slowly over many years.
Note: slow progressive thinning can also be caused by androgenetic alopecia - see Q1 above.
Three conditions that can cause pregnancy-related hair loss are explained – these involve your hormone balance, immune system and stress levels.
If clumps of hair fall out in days, or even overnight, it could be that one of the areata family of diseases applies to you. These include:
Alopecia Areata – One or more bald spots or patches quickly develop within one or two days, possibly even overnight!
Alopecia Totalis - Someone with this condition will suffer total scalp hair loss (i.e., including the eyebrows and eyelashes). And they could lose it all within a week.
Alopecia Universalis - Complete loss of body hair, pubic hair, nose, ear, scalp and facial hair. All gone, possibly within a week.
Some causes of hair loss are due to pre-existing medical conditions. These include:
Thyroid conditions - Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and thyroiditis can all cause many symptoms including thinning hair and hair loss (especially of the eyebrows).
Eyebrow hair loss - As just mentioned, thyroid conditions can often cause hair loss of the eyebrows, as can alopecia totalis and universalis. Learn about my own eyebrow hair loss, how I treated it, and what happened.
Fibromyalgia - Hair loss is just one of many symptoms fibromyalgia can cause. Learn how a vicious circle can form which then makes your hair loss even worse! Also learn how you might be able to successfully treat this condition.
Some types of hair loss are so rare and unusual that they're not covered by this website. But there's one very interesting type that can sometimes be confused with alopecia areata:
Cicatricial alopecia – This is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own hair follicles causing bald patches to develop.
Braids, bands, clips, caps, hats, helmets, etc. could all be possible reasons for hair loss developing if you wear any of them regularly enough and for long periods of time.
Hair loss and hygiene sometimes seem to go hand in hand. But, can washing hair with shampoo too much (or too little) contribute to the hair loss process? Some people think it can. This article investigates whether the frequency with which you wash your hair might affect hair growth and hair loss.
Clearly, stress is not exactly going to help! And so, it definitely could be a reason for your hair loss getting worse. But stress can't cause hair loss on its own. Certain types of hair loss have a much more obvious link to stress than others. Read the following page to find out which types these are, and how stress and hair loss can be connected.
In women, low estrogen levels can cause the menopause and hair loss to coincide. In men, the "andropause" should mean less hair loss. And, for both men and women, HRT might just make things worse.
Baldness, beer and burgers - learn how a junk food diet can increase your waistline and decrease your hairline. Also learn why crash diets might have a terrible effect on your hair.
Some causes of hair loss mentioned above are very rare conditions and diseases. But, in most cases, androgenetic alopecia will be to blame (as already mentioned).
However, getting an accurate diagnosis might not be that straightforward. Sometimes there could even be multiple reasons for hair loss
developing. For example, pregnancy, stress, and an underlying thyroid
condition. And that can easily lead to confusion and uncertainty. Clearly then, to confirm what type of hair loss you have, and how best to treat it, you should consult with a doctor.
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