Many people experience excessive hair loss which is a health and aesthetic related problem. Healthy and thick hair is one of the individual features admired by the opposite sex. Hair loss is a natural process in the body. Specialists describe many different causes of hair loss which can be cured.

Hair loss vs. hair growth cycle stages

Hair is complex in structure and is comprised of hair shafts, root and follicle. Hair startsgrowing at the bottom of a hair follicle which is situated in the middle skin layer and nourished by blood vessels in the papilla. Each person has on average 85,000-140,000 hairs and follicles and development starts during fetal life. When a fetus is about 60 days old follicles start to grow on the head. The hair growth cycle is not a continuous process and is made up of 3 stages. Those cycles repeat frequently within a lifetime and the stages always follow one another in the same sequence. Every hair can be at a different stage of the growth cycle at any given time i.e. new hair starts to grow regularly. The hair growth cycle is made up of 3 stages: growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and falling out (telogen). In the growth phase follicle cells are rapidly divided to grow a new hair. Its duration is genetically predetermined and lasts about 2-7 years. Even 90% of hairs are in the growth phase in a healthy person. The second stage is regression and takes 14-21 days. This stage is characterized by hair transformation. The hair matrix disappears and a hair is pushed towards the skin. In an average patient 3% of hairs are in the regression stage. In the last hair growth phase there are no metabolic processes and the hair follicle is completely inactive. Within 30-90 days the hair follicle becomes thinner and falls out during brushing or washing. An old hair is pushed out by a new one. Normally about 13% of all hairs in healthy patients are in this stage. As described above hair loss is a completely natural process. However, in some cases hair growth phases are disrupted and patients experience excessive hair loss.

Alopecia areata as one of the causes of hair loss

Even children can develop alopecia areata. Generally, the disease can affect people of all ages. The symptoms are temporary or permanent alopecia periods and bald spots are of different shape and size. Alopecia areata can also affect other body parts including eyebrows and eyelashes. The progress of the disease is different in every patient and symptoms can affect only one area or many smaller ones. Hair regrowth is spontaneous and patients can experience the periodic worsening of symptoms. Alopecia areata symptoms are usually in the form of round or oval patches on the scalp which often blend. The main cause of alopecia areata are genetic factors. Other factors responsible for the disease are auto-immune diseases, stress and different medications. Another cause can be hair growth cycle disruption i.e. early hair dying process. Alopecia areata diagnosis is not difficult and an examination of the scalp is usually sufficient. In order to cure alopecia areata it is necessary to identify its cause and eliminate it. Treatment involves using medications in the form of ointments. Clinics offer different procedures helpful in alopecia areata treatment. One treatment method is mesotherapy which uses injections of active substances into the skin. An effective therapy is also irradiation or massages of the scalp. A doctor will choose the appropriate  treatment method to meet the patient’s individual needs.

Hair loss or so-called androgenetic alopecia

The most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. Symptoms in men include a receding hairline and in women thinning hair all over the head. Follicles are sensitive to androgens which results in weaker hair and hair loss. It leads to follicles miniaturization and shorter hair growth stage as a result. You lose more hair and new hair grows slowly. Apart from androgens another cause of androgenetic alopecia is lifestyle. Stress, occupational factors, intensive hair styling products, polycystic ovarian syndrome or oral contraceptives are the most common causes of androgenic alopecia. The main goal of androgenetic alopecia treatment is to eliminate the cause of the disease. Treatment involves using medications which nourish the follicles. Doctors  recommend the state-of-the-art FUE hair transplant surgery which involves transplanting single follicles. Androgenic alopecia prevention mainly involves leading a healthy lifestyle and starting to eat a low glycaemic index diet.

Hair loss in woman

Hair loss in woman

Thyroid diseases cause hair loss

A healthy level of thyroid hormones influences hair condition and the healthy functioning of the body. There are 2 thyroid dysfunctions: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Patients with hypothyroidism have rough and dry hair which falls out easily. Those patients also experience permanent fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness and skin lesions. Thyroid hormone deficiency has an adverse effect on metabolic processes in the cells. In addition, various processes in the hair cells slow down and more hair enters the resting phase. As a result more and more hair fall out and subcutaneous tissue edema also affects hair condition. In most cases it is excessive hair loss that encourages the patients to consult a doctor. Cured hypothyroidism can stop excessive hair loss. Another frequent thyroid dysfunction is hyperthyroidism i.e. excessive production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Patients experience excessive weight loss, hyperactivity, cardiac dysrhythmia and excessive sweating. Their hair is very thin and it’s unnaturally glossy. Increased thyroid hormone levels accelerates the transition to the resting phase which results in excessive hair loss.  Keeping healthy hormone levels help diminish hair loss and stimulate its regrowth.

Bad hair habits

Bad hair habits can result in weaker hair and alopecia. Using intensive hair care and styling products such as hair gels and hairsprays can significantly weaken hair condition making it brittle and impair follicles. A weaker scalp condition results in circulatory dysfunction and significant follicles malnutrition. In addition daily use of a hairdryer or a flat iron makes hair dry and brittle. High heat styling also impacts the condition of the scalp and weakens follicles responsible for the hair growth processes. What is more, tight ponytails or updos can weaken follicles and lead to worse hair quality and excessive hair loss. Using an inappropriate hair brush or comb can also result in hair loss and a common cause of hair loss in women is hair coloring as strong chemicals in hair dye weaken hair and lead to hair loss.

Life style

Many people who experience excessive hair loss lead an unhealthy life style. One of the most common mistakes is an unhealthy diet rich in sugar and highly processed foods. Diet plays an exceptionally important role is hair condition. A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals provides the body with all essential nutrients. It boosts the immune system which is responsible for healthy cell functions. Healthy scalp microcirculation results in well-nourished follicles which will stimulate hair growth. Specialists particularly recommend a low glycaemic index diet to prevent diabetes. Stress can also have a severe impact on hair loss as it weakens all the processes in the body. It has also been noticed that smokers’ hair condition is worse i.e. their hair is dull, dry, brittle and falls out more easily. Other important lifestyle factors include getting enough sleep and rest. They help the body to regenerate and improve the natural processes in the body. Finally, excessive hair and scalp sun exposure or using a sun tanning bed weaken hair condition as well.

Vitamins and minerals deficiencies

Appropriate intake of vitamins and nutrients can prevent excessive hair loss and take care of your hair condition. An unbalanced diet poor in nutrients will quickly impact your hair condition and weaken it. Excessive hair loss can result from vitamin A deficiency. This vitamin plays an important role in proper hair cells keratosis and its deficiency results in dry and brittle hair. Another important nutrient is vitamin E – it supports scalp microcirculation and protects hair from the harmful effects of free radicals. Vitamin D supports the hair growth cycle and inhibits genes responsible for hair loss. D-Vitamin functions are supported by vitamin C which stimulates hair regrowth and prevents hair loss. Vitamin H, biotin, prevents both hair loss and alopecia. Biotin contains sulphur which is essential for healthy and strong hair. It also prevents dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis which significantly weaken hair condition. Vitamin PP, niacin, supports nutrients that are transported to the hair bulb. B vitamins are also of vital importance because they stimulate new hair growth and stop hair loss.

Hair loss prevention

A proper everyday hair care routine with natural products is exceptionally important. Shampoos and hair conditioners containing natural ingredients of the highest quality strengthen your hair and nourish the scalp. In addition, it is important to lead a healthy life i.e. get enough sleep, avoid stress and quit smoking. A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals also plays an important role in good health and hair condition. Specialists emphasize to avoid sugar and chemicals in food which lead to different body process dysfunctions. Hair loss prevention also includes vitamins and nutrients supplementation. In addition, it is very important to regularly undergo medicals tests which allow the diagnosis of different disorders and diseases at an early stage. Early treatment allows the expected results and to quickly get rid of the excessive hair loss problem. Patients awareness and if necessary a quick doctor’s consultation are very important factors in scalp disease prevention.

Dr Piotr Turkowski

About Dr Piotr Turkowski

Aesthetic medicine doctor, specialist and enthusiastic surgery, completing the specialization in plastic surgery. The only officially registered member of the international hair restoration surgery (ISHRS) in Warsaw, which brings together the world's best specialists in this field.