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Contributing Factors to Hair Loss

For most people, hair loss is a genetic issue. It is a state of inevitability, much like the onset of aging. However, people can suffer hair loss for many other reasons than simply genetics. Sometimes these reasons produce temporary hair loss that will eventually remedy itself. In other instances, these non-genetic events can be a trigger to long-term and even permanent hair loss. Therefore, it is important to recognize, identify, and understand how these different factors can lead to hair loss.

Normal Hair Loss

Everyone experiences a degree of normal hair shedding when the hair moves out of its active growing phase. This is not to be confused with long term hair loss. When the hair follicle enters its resting phase it loosens its grip upon the hair shaft and, at the same time, the bulb of the hair shaft moves closer to the surface of the skin. Through normal brushing, washing, and even friction from a pillow during sleep, the hair will be shed. This is considered “normal” hair loss and can occur with 50-100 hairs per day. Losing this much hair sounds like a lot, but in reality this is not an indication of the onset of long term or permanent hair loss.
Pattern Hair Loss – The Most Common Scenario

Pattern hair loss is the most common, as it is the genetic predisposition that results in 95% of hair loss cases. Men and women both suffer from pattern hair loss, even though those patterns are usually dramatically different. Male Pattern Baldness is hair loss typified by a receding hairline (or one that disappears altogether) that can include the top of the head all the way back to the crown. In extreme and advanced cases of male hair loss, the only remaining hair on the scalp can be found along the fringes, from ear to ear extending across the back of the head.

Women who suffer pattern hair loss will find that theirs is far less acute than men in that the pattern is more diffusive and occurs across a broader area of the scalp. Women who deal with hair loss more or less deal with it all over the scalp which results in an overall thinning. Since women do not typically suffer hair loss in a way that creates a bald spot, they can experience up to 50% hair loss before the thinning even becomes evident.

Other Types of Hair Loss

While some hair loss is completely normal and most other cases are due to genetics, there are still other factors that can contribute to hair loss. “Sudden Hair Loss”, for instance, occurs if one is exposed to strong or very powerful chemicals or is subject to prolonged exposure to radiation as with cancer treatment. This is medically referred to as “Anagen Effluvium”. In this instance, hair loss can occur within just one to three weeks after the event and the resulting hair loss may be patchy, extensive, or result in total hair loss. It is here that the hair follicle’s normal cycle of growth is interrupted and it is thrust into a state of dormancy which is effectively how hair loss presents itself. In such instances, the hair loss is usually temporary so long as the contributing event has ended.

Another factor that can lead to hair loss is stress. “Stress-induced Hair Loss” occurs when one experiences a sudden, traumatic event. In instances such as these, the hair loss does not appear immediately, but rather three to six months after the stressful event.

In addition to genetics, stress, chemicals, and radiation, other factors that can cause hair loss include post-childbirth hormone changes, hormone irregularities, auto-immune deficiencies, and an overactive/ underactive thyroid gland.

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