11 common reasons for hair loss in men and women

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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.

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Expert hair transplant surgery by Dr Shahmalak

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We may pay extra time and money taking care of our hair and planning elaborate skincare routines, but how many of us pay the same attention to our scalps?

Although it’s easy to overlook – after all, many of us don’t really see our scalps – proper scalp care is key to having healthy follicles and healthy hair. Just like the rest of your skin, your scalp can accumulate bacteria, sweat and become clogged.

Why is a healthy scalp important?

Think of your scalp like a flower bed – without healthy soil and proper care, flowers won’t flourish. Similarly, without caring for your scalp you’ll be hindering healthy hair growth. The sebaceous glands in the scalp produce sebum – a natural oil that is meant to protect the skin – via the hair follicles. However, if the follicles aren’t clean and clear of sebum, or are otherwise blocked by dandruff or dead skin, this will have a negative impact on the growth of the hair.

Here is some of Crown Clinic’s top advice for caring for your scalp.

1. Treat dandruff as early as possible

Dandruff – flaking of the scalp – is very common, as the skin is constantly shedding. It’s not a serious condition, but it can be embarrassing to deal with. Try cleansing the scalp regularly with an anti-dandruff shampoo to see if it helps ease the buildup of oil and skin cells. Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole are the best options. It may take a few weeks to start noticing a difference and you may need to try a few different shampoos before finding one that works for your scalp.

2. Avoid overusing dry shampoo

Dry shampoo may be great as a quick fix for those days where you don’t have time to wash your hair, but it should be used sparingly. Relying too heavily on dry shampoo can cause a buildup of product on the scalp, which can clog the follicles and trap bacteria, potentially leading to dandruff. If you really must use dry shampoo, ensure you wash your hair as soon as possible with a cleansing shampoo to get rid of the buildup.

3. Treat your hair gently

Overusing harsh shampoos can do more harm than good, so consider switching to sulphate-free shampoos that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils but will still properly cleanse your scalp. As for how often you wash your hair, it depends on personal preference, but generally, we would suggest at least every other day. This is especially true for those who use a lot of product on their hair or sweat more, as the buildup on the scalp can cause itching and flaking.

You can also try using a gentle scalp scrub to exfoliate the skin and unclog the follicles, but make sure to replenish moisture to the lengths of the hair with a conditioner.

4. Avoid tight hairstyles

Traction alopecia is caused by the hair being repeatedly pulled in the same place, leading to irritation, discomfort, hair breakage and potentially long-term damage. Tight hairstyles such as braids can be very harsh on the scalp due to the constant tension, so to avoid this, change your hairstyle regularly and wear it in a looser style if you can’t wear your hair down.

Remember that a healthy scalp leads to healthy hair, so make sure to start adding proper scalp care to your routine.

For many people who lose their hair, it can be a traumatising experience that takes a toll on their self-esteem and wellbeing. As a result, you may wonder what exactly you can do to prevent hair loss. However, the answer is entirely dependent on the type of hair loss.

Preventing genetic hair loss

In most instances, hair loss is genetic. Over the course of their lifetime, two-thirds of men will experience male pattern baldness, with 40% noticing hair loss by the age of 35. Meanwhile, around half of women will experience some type of hair loss at some point in their life.

Although there is no way of preventing genetic hair loss, there are ways of treating it, especially if you seek advice as soon as you start noticing hair loss. Finasteride (Propecia) is a prescription medication that blocks the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that can contribute to hair loss by disrupting the growth cycle. If treatment is started early, Finasteride can be effective at preventing further hair loss. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for this medication, so you’ll need to consult with your GP or a specialist.

Other ways to prevent hair loss

Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent hair loss, there are ways that you can improve your lifestyle to promote healthy hair growth.

Reducing stress

Stress can be a contributing factor to a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, which is where hair is shed across the scalp. It happens when the growth phase of the hair cycle is interrupted by a disturbance within the body, causing a large number of hairs to shift into the shedding phase. When we are stressed, our body focuses our energy on only the most essential functions – unfortunately, hair growth is not one of these.

Everyone manages stress differently, so try to find a way of reducing stress that works for you, such as meditation, exercise and getting enough rest.

Cutting out bad habits

A poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can all take a toll on your body, impacting every area of your health. Your diet, in particular, may be contributing towards hair loss, as several deficiencies can cause hair loss, such as iron and vitamin D. Make sure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as enough protein, as hair follicles are primarily made of a type of protein called keratin.

Looking after your hair

The way that you care for your hair is key to its overall health. Overusing hot tools such as hairdryers, curling irons and straighteners can make the hair dry, brittle and damaged, as well as more prone to breakage. Make sure to only use hot tools when necessary and use a heat protecting spray.

Wash your hair regularly with gentle shampoo and conditioner, avoiding products that are overly harsh and more liable to dry out your hair. To minimise the risk of excessive hair shedding – or even traction alopecia – avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the root of the hair, like tight braids or ponytails.

If you are struggling with hair loss, in many instances, there are both surgical and non-surgical options to treat it – Crown Clinic offers a wide variety of treatments that are sure to bring your hair back to its former glory. Why not book in for a hair consultation to find out the best course of treatment for you?

No matter the cause behind hair loss, it can be an emotionally distressing experience. Even temporary hair loss can be difficult to cope with, due to the toll it can take on a person’s self-esteem – and although many people associate hair loss primarily with older men, it can affect anyone of any age.

Why does hair loss affect our self-esteem?

Whether we realise it or not, our hair does affect our appearance – anyone who has ever ended up with a disastrous haircut can vouch for that. As a result, when people start to lose their hair, it can change the way that they see themselves and have a serious impact on their self-confidence.

Culturally and historically, a thick head of hair has been synonymous with youth, attractiveness and good health. This beauty standard still pervades, so hair loss may lead people to feel unattractive when they start to lose their hair. This is particularly true for women, whose hair is often considered their crowning glory. In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that women are more likely to develop a negative body image as a result of their hair loss compared to men. However, 75% of men also reported they felt less confident about themselves after starting to lose their hair.

It’s not just concerns about self-image, either – many people who experience hair loss may worry about how they are perceived in the workplace, or by romantic partners, as they worry that they will no longer be considered attractive by others.

Can hair loss cause depression?

Hair loss can cause emotional trauma, and the subsequent impact on self-esteem and self-worth can be linked to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. In turn, some of the behaviours associated with depression – such as poor sleeping habits, a poor diet and increased alcohol intake – can make hair loss worse, making it a vicious cycle.

Coping with hair loss

If you are struggling with hair loss, you don’t need to suffer in silence – there are a number of ways to cope with hair loss.

Temporary hair loss

If you are experiencing hair loss caused by factors such as medication, pregnancy or weight loss, remember that the chances are it’s only a temporary form of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. Even if large amounts of hair fall out, the hair usually will grow back – although it can be hard to cope with, remember that it won’t last forever. It may be worth visiting your GP to check if there are any factors contributing to your hair loss.

Talk to someone

For anyone who is struggling with their mental health, it’s worth seeking treatment – there are plenty of professionals who will be able to support you through it. Talking therapies may be especially helpful if you’re finding that the emotional impact of hair loss is getting in the way of your daily life. Speaking to a professional about your struggles can teach you strategies to improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Surgical and non-surgical treatments

There may be no magic cure to hair loss, but there are plenty of treatments available to help restore your hair. From medications such as Propecia and Finasteride, to non-surgical scalp micropigmentation, all the way to permanent solutions such as hair transplants, there is sure to be a treatment to suit you.

Crown Clinic has been working with hair loss patients for years, offering them support and guidance to find a treatment that will work best for them. If you’d like to book a consultation to find out how we can help you, get in touch.