The scientific term for hair loss is alopecia. At different stages in your life, you can experience periodic hair loss, which is normal. For example, babies and pregnant women go through a period where they experience thinning of the hair, due to a change or imbalance in hormones. After this imbalance is resolved, their hair will naturally grow back.
Men and women also lose hair or experience hair thinning as they age, which may be related to the levels of testosterone. This male hormone tends to increase in women after menopause. And male pattern baldness, which can be seen with a receding hairline or patches of baldness on the hair scalp, affects about two-thirds of all men by the time they are 60 years old. This condition is also attributed to levels of testosterone as well as the individual's genetic makeup.
However, there are also lifestyle habits or certain health conditions that can cause hair loss and speed up the natural process of hair thinning.
Lifestyle habits that can cause hair loss include:
- excessive shampooing or blow-drying
- emotional or physical stress
- smoking (although this is not a direct cause, people who smoke tend to have lifestyles that lead to malnutrition)
- chemical hair treatments or over-styling
- exposure to chlorinated swimming pools
These are conditions that you can improve by making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, getting the right amount of nutrients, adjusting your hair care habits, and rearranging some things in your life to reduce stress.
Other health conditions that may lead to hair loss include:
- autoimmune conditions such as lupus
- infectious diseases such as syphilis
- cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy
- scalp infections
- certain medications
- thyroid disorders
- other skin disorders that can cause scarring
- hormonal factors (childbirth, menopause)
- suffering from a medical condition known as hair-pulling disorder, which is an irresistible urge to pull out your hair from any part of your body (scalp, eyebrows etc.)
Losing hair can be a temporary or permanent problem. Talk to your doctor if you are having problems with hair loss and aren't sure why. Your doctor may run some diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your hair loss. Though hair loss cannot be cured, there are medications, such as minoxidil and finasteride, and other treatments that can promote hair growth or cover hair loss.
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