It’s hair loss awareness month. The causes of hair loss are many and varied. When I was at my sickest, my hair was constantly coming out in clumps. Now that I’m better overall – the hair loss has lessened. The most common causes of hair loss are male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) and female pattern hair loss. Are you losing too much hair? Normal hair loss is 50 to 150 strands per day.
Hair follicles cycle throughout our lifetime. The cycles include periods of growth (anagen), transformation (catagen) and rest (telogen). Each hair follicle cycles independently, which is why all our hairs don’t fall out at once.
Hair loss is generally categorised as:
- Scarring alopecias
- Inflammatory disorders of the scalp that can cause permanent hair loss
- e.g. discoid lupus and cutaneous lymphomas
- Non-scarring alopecia
- Signs of inflammation usually minimal and destruction of the hair follicle does not occur
- autoimmune, traction, patterned (male- and female-), diffuse (e.g. telogen effluvium – caused by major physical or psychological stressors, medications, and nutritional/vitamin deficiencies)
- inherited or acquired structural hair disorders
- brittle or fragile hair leading to excessive hair breakage
- hormonal (e.g. thyroid, pregnancy/post childbirth, or changes related to age)
- nutritional and vitamin deficiencies (calorie, protein, iron deficiency)
- medications (e.g. chemotherapy)
- autoimmune conditions
- major illness/surgery/stress
- significant weight loss
- hereditary conditions
If you’re concerned about hair loss, speak to your doctor, there may be simple things that can be addressed. Underlying conditions should be treated where possible.
Treatment options for female and male pattern hair loss include:
- topical minoxidil
- oral medications that inhibit androgen production
- surgery (hair transplantation)
- low-level laser therapy
- platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections
Collagen supplements are pretty topical in the (social) media at the moment. I’m reserving judgement at this stage (and haven’t tried them). Apart from improving your overall protein intake, the evidence for their efficacy isn’t there at this stage. Plus, collagen we ingest can’t be targeted to specific areas of the body.