Thinning hair, bald spots and hair loss are all a part of aging, but sometimes can be indicators of other health phenomena – so what exactly leads to it? Hair loss is actually a fairly common problem, with most men and some women experiencing pattern hair loss by age 50. Essentially, about 2% of the general population will go through some form of hair loss over the course of their life. Almost all cases of hair loss take root at a hormonal and genetic level.
Hair loss isn’t solely confined to the scalp, and can affect any part of the body that contains hair; the most common areas affected by hair loss after the scalp are the eyebrows. Non genetic forms of hair loss can be due to medication side effects, illness, stress or mineral deficiency. Irregular hair loss can also be a sign of serious medical conditions. In the latter case, medical causes of hair loss can include HIV/AIDS, hypothyroidism, malnutrition, fungal infection, lupus erythematosus, or radiation therapy – to just name a few.
Other forms of hair loss, like alopecia causes patches of baldness, or total baldness but in many cases, the hair re-grows after several months. Some forms of Alopecia may be treated by steroid injections in the affected area but these need to be frequently repeated to be effective. Alopecia is estimated to affect about 15 in every 10,000 people.
High levels of stress or poor environmental health has also been known to lead to unprecedented hair loss both in men and women who wouldn’t otherwise be affected by hair loss. In general, women who are affected by hair loss is due to a non-genetic cause, and remains rare. Genetic or hormonal based baldness is a lot more prevalent.
With changes in specific hormone levels throughout the aging process linked to balding, you can be predisposed to these imbalances through genetic inheritance. If hair loss occurs in a young man with no family history, drug use could be the cause. However, since hair-loss is usually natural, is doesn’t require any type of testing.
Hair loss has been linked to psychological distress, especially in younger sufferers, and most treatments of pattern hair loss involve accepting the condition and moving on. There are certain medications that could help with reducing the rate of hair loss, whilst hair transplant surgery is also another course of action. However, as aforementioned, the cheaper and easier option may just be to accept it!