Crown Clinic's hair transplant surgeon Asim Shahmalak often gets asked to list the most common reasons for hair loss. By the time they are 60, 60% of men and around half of women will have experienced some kind of hair loss. The main difference in the sexes is this hair loss is far more likely to be permanent in men. The most effective treatment for hair loss in either sex is a hair transplant – either an FUE or FUT procedure.
1 Stress or trauma – temporary hair loss can be triggered by any kind of physical trauma – maybe surgery, a car accident, a severe illness or even a more everyday malady such as flu. This can trigger a condition known as telogen effluvium. Everyone's hair has a life cycle – a growth phase, rest phase and shedding phase. Asim Shahmalak explained: “Physical stress can play havoc with this life cycle – putting more hair in the shedding phase. The good news is that hair loss caused by stress or ill health tends to be temporary so your hair is likely to grow back when you are feeling better.”
2 Pregnancy – this is linked to the stress highlighted above. It is far more likely to become a problem AFTER childbirth, mainly because having a baby is such a huge event for any woman. Asim Shahmalak said: “Once again, the good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary and the hair nearly always grows back as the woman's body normality.”
3 A lack of protein -if you're not eating enough meat and fish, your body may feel it needs to ration the protein it is receiving by shutting down hair growth. You can expect to see symptoms two to three months after your protein intake decreases. Again this is easily remedied by upping your consumption of protein.
4 It's in the genes – by far the most common cause of hair loss in both sexes is a family history of baldness. Dr Shahmalak said: “If you there is a strong baldness gene in your family the chances are you will lose your hair, too. Look at the royals – there is a powerful baldness gene running right through from the grandfather (Prince Philip), to the father (Prince Charles) to the son (Prince William).”
5 Female hormones – a change in a woman's routine can trigger hair loss – for instance, coming off the pill. The change in the hormonal balance that occurs at menopause may have the same result.
6 Anaemia – This is particularly common in women. Around one in ten women aged 20 to 40 suffers from anaemia at some point in their lives – due to an iron deficiency. Dr Shahmalak said: “This is easily fixable. First you will need to have a blood test to determine the type of anemia you are suffering from. If it is an iron deficiency, there are lots of supplements you can take. Most other strains of anaemia are also treatable.”
7 An underactive thyroid – this is a small gland in the neck which produces the hormones that are critical to metabolism as well as growth and development. Again this is treatable with synthetic thyroid medication. Once your thyroid levels return to normal, so should your hair.
8 An overactive immune system – this is basically autoimmune-related hair loss. It is called alopecia areata and happens when the immune system sees the hair as foreign and targets it by mistake. It can be treated with steroids.
9 Polycystic ovary syndrome – an imbalance in male or female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes and changes to the menstrual cycle. These hormone imbalances can be helped with improved diet and regular exercise.
10 Trichotillomania – this is a psychological condition where sufferers pull out their hair. One famous previous sufferer is Sam Fairers who starred in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex. The main treatment is psychological – the patient needs to change behaviour patterns and learn to stop out pulling their hair.
11 Over styling – women, in particular, can permanently damage their hair by over-styling. Naomi Campbell is a good example of this phenomenon – she suffers from traction alopecia, a condition caused by years of tight hairstyles, over-processing of the hair and applying glues.