Question:  I have been losing hair like crazy, is there anything you can do to help?

Answer:  Quite often, yes, but first, it is necessary to determine why you are losing hair.

It is normal to lose somewhere between 50-100 hairs each day as part of your body’s normal hair renewal process. However, some people suffer from excessive hair loss and may need to seek medical attention to determine why. There are several reasons for excessive hair loss to include genetics, medication, thyroid disease, radiation, chemotherapy, exposure to chemicals, hormonal and nutritional factors, generalized or local skin disease, and stress. It is important to understand that many of these causes are reversible but a few can lead to permanent hair loss. Here is a short list of the most common causes of hair loss seen in my practice.

Hormonal changes tend to have the largest influence on hair loss. These fluctuations in hormone can affect both men and women and are often responsible for the “thinning” effect seen with aging. Men generally experience hair loss along the forehead and through the crown while women tend to have thinning throughout their whole head. This type of hair loss is influenced by the hormone DHT (a derivative from testosterone). There are some genetic influences that increase a person’s sensitivity to DHT and/or the number of DHT receptors on the hair follicles leading to more hair loss or hair loss that occurs earlier in life. Some birth control medications can also be a cause hormonal changes that lead to hair loss in younger women. The best approach for this type of hair loss is prevention or early intervention. There are prescriptions medications and several nutritional supplements and herbs that can help reduce the formation of DHT in the body. Topical applications of special shampoos and laser therapy also offer promising results.

After childbirth, women can often experience sudden hair loss that can last up to 6 months. This is caused by many hair follicles entering into a resting phase of cellular turnover. In most cases, the hair loss completely resolves after the body recovers from the hormone fluctuations caused by pregnancy.

Illness or disease can also contribute to hair loss. Thyroid disease is probably the most common cause of hair loss seen in my clinic. Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can influence the hair follicles leading to hair loss. This type of hair loss is usually diffuse and can occur in both men and women of any age. With a proper diagnosis, medications (when necessary), supplements and diet, hair loss caused by thyroid disease can be stopped and reversed.

Dietary deficiencies can also be an underlying cause of hair loss. Low protein diets, extreme calorie restrictions or severely abnormal eating habits can all cause protein malnutrition and iron deficiencies. To help save protein the body shifts growing hair into the resting phase. If this happens massive amounts of hair shedding can occur two to three months later. A sign of this is if the hair can be pulled out by the roots fairly easily. This condition can be reversed and prevented by eating the proper amount of protein. It is very important to maintain an adequate protein intake and sufficient calories to maintain proper hair growth and maintenance.

The information contained in this article is for information and education purposes only and is not medical advice. Do not use this information as an alternative to obtaining medical advice from your physician or other professional healthcare provider. Always consult with your physician or other professional healthcare provider about any medical conditions you are experiencing. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, contact your local emergency services for help.

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