Male-pattern baldness may be the most talked about and dreaded cause of hair loss, but there are many other reasons why you may be losing your hair (we won’t even get into toddlers and teenagers). Bay Area hair experts Dr. David Lieberman and Dr. Sachin Parikh regularly see patients who suffer from hair loss due to a variety of other causes which is why we emphasize the importance of first figuring out the root of the problem, and only then talking about possible solutions.
Of course, the most complained about cause of hair loss is male pattern baldness, also known as hereditary hair loss and androgenic alopecia. It frequently causes visible signs of loss and impacts about 70 percent of all men in the United States, as well as tens of thousands of women. Here is more information on that condition, as well as seven more to watch for if you’re wondering what is causing your hair loss.
- androgenic alopecia: This cause is typically identified by its predictable pattern of progression. In men, loss appears as a receding hairline and a bare patch on the back of the head. Women typically experience increasing overall thinning. A hair transplant that gathers healthy grafts from loss-resistant areas of the scalp and fills in areas where too much skin is showing is a common and effective method for combatting this problem.
- natural, daily loss: Often overlooked as a cause of hair loss, the natural life cycle of a hair ultimately involves each hair falling out at some point to make way for new growth. While the rate of replacement is nowhere near fast enough to account for thinning, it can cause stray strands to appear on pillows, in combs and hairbrushes, in shower drains, and elsewhere. If this is found to be the case, no treatment is recommended or needed.
- hormonal imbalances: Major fluctuations in body chemistry can trigger hair loss, and many of them have to do with significant life events, such as getting pregnant, giving birth, or entering menopause. While those are all women-focused hormone shifts, men go through a transition known as andropause. Fortunately, a shift may be due to something as simple as diet. Unfortunately, testosterone, estrogen, and other chemicals may be off-kilter due to any of a variety of medical conditions, including thyroid problems.
- medical conditions: Autoimmune diseases like lupus can account for hair loss, making a medical diagnosis particularly important in many cases. Most hair-loss-causing health conditions, such as diabetes, also have other symptoms, so a doctor should consider the patient as a whole when determining the cause of loss.
- infections: Ringworm—a fungal infection that doesn’t actually involve worms—can cause hair to fall out if it develops on the scalp, and it’s not the only skin condition that can lead to bald patches. In the case of infections, no hair transplant is needed. A good antibiotic will do the trick.
- injuries: Anything that damages the skin can temporarily or permanently damage a follicle’s ability to produce hair. Burns, cuts, and scrapes can remove hair and prevent its replacement from growing, and resulting scar tissue can also be an impediment to new growth.
- medications: Chemotherapy is the most obvious example of this problem, possibly sitting as the second-most discussed (and feared) reason for hair to fall out. As with many other points on this list, no hair transplant or similar procedures are required to restore a full head of hair. Natural growth typically resumes after the treatments resolve, whether they’re regular doses of chemicals to fight cancer or herbal remedies intended to help with pain.
- traction alopecia: Men who have hair long enough to put into a ponytail or wear a similarly pulled-back style may lose hair to the act of gathering the hair together and tugging it tight into a band.
If you have questions about your hair loss, Drs. Lieberman and Parikh would happy to discuss them with you. Set up an appointment by calling (650) 327-3232 or emailing.