Hair loss is not just an irreversible product of bad genes and aging. There are actually several different causes of hair loss that will respond to different types of hair loss therapy. So getting to the root cause of your roots is essential for effective treatment.
Some of the Main Causes of Hair Loss:
1. Nutrient Deficiency
Healthy hair growth requires many nutrients, some in higher quantities than others. Deficiencies in the following nutrients commonly lead to hair loss: iron, biotin, protein, and zinc. It is important to be evaluated for these deficiencies by a healthcare professional because even subclinical inadequacies in these can contribute to hair loss.
2. Hormone Imbalance
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all play a role in hair loss – in both men and women. A metabolite of testosterone, DHT, is often the culprit for hormone-related hair loss. Women may have high amounts of DHT as a result of underlying conditions, like PCOS, or from a temporary hormone imbalance resulting from the discontinuation of birth control. Declines in estrogen and progesterone will also lead to hair loss and explains why hair loss is common during menopause.
3. Thyroid Disease
Thyroid hormone regulates just about every process in the body. When thyroid disease causes an underproduction of thyroid hormone, our body prioritizes vital functions while neglecting functions that are not as vital – like hair growth and skin maintenance.
Chronic stress is detrimental to every part of our body. Our hair growth is no exception. Besides blunting blood flow and nutrients to “fight or flight” processes, the stress hormone, cortisol, can also directly inhibit hair growth. It can directly target and damage hair follicles.
Autoimmune diseases arise when our bodies’ immune system decides to attack our own cells. Autoimmune conditions will often target specific tissue types. Alopecia Areata is the autoimmune condition that affects hair follicles. It can result in hair loss on any part of the body.
Androgenic alopecia affects both men and women. In men it leads to hair loss that starts as a receding hairline or a bald spot at the top of the head. In women it usually manifests as overall thinning of the hair or a widening part. Although this type of hair loss is genetic, it is still treatable.
As we age, our hair follicles naturally stop growing. It is usually has something to do with one, or several, of the factors listed above.
Treatment Options for Hair Loss
Treatment for hair loss is going to be entirely dependent on the cause. The good news is, most causes of hair loss for both males and females are treatable. Evaluation for the cause of hair loss will start with a history of the condition, health history, and an examination to determine the pattern of loss. Lab work is often necessary to evaluate nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, underlying stress disorders, and hormonal imbalances.
Diet, lifestyle, and target nutrient supplementation will often be utilized to treat hair loss regardless of the cause, but particularly with hair loss caused by nutritional deficiencies. Any hormone imbalances may be corrected using hormone replacement therapy or even pharmaceutical medication. Autoimmune related hair loss will require therapies to calm down the immune response and re-regulate the balance of healthy immune cells. Stress management will be an important component of treating stress related hair loss and will incorporate a lot of lifestyle changes.
People often think of hereditary hair loss, or androgenic alopecia, as untreatable. However, there are certain therapies that are able to address this type of hair loss. One therapy we utilize at BioMed that shows great results is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). PRP is obtained by centrifuging the blood and extracting the layer that is dense with the blood cell line known as platelets. Platelets have special healing qualities because they are rich in growth factors that can help cells proliferate. Since they help cells proliferate, they can be targeted to treat tissues that need to be regenerated. This makes it an ideal therapy for hair restoration, as it can stimulate the inactive hair follicles to grow hair again.
If you are experiencing hair loss and want to look into your options for evaluation and treatment, schedule a 15 minute FREE consultation with one of our doctors.
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van Beek, N., et al., Thyroid hormones directly alter human hair follicle functions: anagen prolongation and stimulation of both hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and hair pigmentation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2008. 93(11): p. 4381-8.
Guo EL, Katta R. “Diet and hair loss: Effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use.” Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017; 7:1-10.