For many people, having a full head of hair is something that is taken for granted. While styling, washing, and trimming your hair may seem like a bit of a chore, for those who experience hair loss at some point in their lives, it’s much better to have hair than it is to not. But what causes hair loss, why do some people go bald later in life than others? Why does it affect men more than women?
To better understand this common phenomenon, let’s take a look at the various types of hair loss that occur and try to break down the common reasons for why it happens.
Before we begin, we should first discuss the essential details of the subject. First and foremost, any form of hair loss is called alopecia. While some people mistakenly think that that is a particular disease, the fact is that everything from male pattern baldness to random loss of body hair can be referred to as alopecia. Thus, if we start to use the terms interchangeably, you’ll know why. Also, some medical terms for hair loss have alopecia in their name, so it may get a little confusing at first.
Regardless, there are many reasons why we lose our hair, so it’s important that you know that there is not one particular factor that causes it. While you may think it’s all genetics, our environment and lifestyle can also play a fundamental role in our hair loss. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at the most common variations.
This is by far the most ubiquitous form of hair loss, or what we commonly refer to as “pattern baldness.” The way that this variation of alopecia works is due mostly to hormones and genetics. When we break it down, the cause of this hair loss is that some or most of our follicles are genetically weaker than the rest, which causes them to fall out or thin over time. Eventually, they will die off completely, which is when baldness sets in. Because the amount and placement of these weaker hairs are due to random chance, that is why some people experience a receding hairline while others may get a bald crown at the top, and so on.
One of the most common questions about Androgenetic Alopecia is why it affects men more than women. In fact, this type can impact up to 70% of men and only 30-40% of women, and at different ages. Males can generally see signs of baldness as early as twenty years old, whereas women don’t experience it until later, such as in their thirties and forties.
The reason for this disparity is that a male hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is mostly responsible for the weakening of the follicles. Hair loss caused by DHT is very common. Since men have more testosterone than women, they are affected more frequently. Again, because of the imperfect nature of genetics, this form of alopecia can strike in a multitude of ways and can vary from person to person, even within the same family.
This is usually the second-most common form of alopecia, and it’s generally referred to as TE. Unlike Androgenetic Alopecia, however, this kind of hair loss is often caused by stress and your environment, rather than genetics. As such, it can come and go throughout your life and affect you in different ways. Typically, however, TE is more of a thinning of the hair rather than a total loss. In essence, if something “shocks” your hair follicles, they will go into a dormant state and act like weaker strands that are affected by Androgenetic Alopecia. However, once that shock has subsided, then the hair can grow back. This can happen suddenly or gradually, but it will vary as far as severity. More research needs to be done about TE so that we can understand it better.
This is usually what people refer to when they say they have “Alopecia,” as it is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss in various parts of the body. These are manifested in bald spots that can be small or large, and they will vary greatly throughout the person’s life. Treatment can help stem the effects, but there is no long-term treatment or solution.
This is a more severe form of the disorder listed above, as it can either result in total hair loss of the head (including eyebrows and facial hair) or complete loss over the whole body. This autoimmune disorder attacks follicles at the root, and it can spread throughout the entire system so that no hair can be grown anywhere. While Totalis (whole head) is somewhat more widespread, Universalis (whole body) is extremely rare.
This is a form of hair loss that is literally when you pull the follicles from your head. If you do this enough times, then it could cause permanent damage, but usually, the hair will grow back eventually. This form of alopecia is most common for people who use hair weaves as they can pull on the natural fibers and damage the roots. Usually, it can result in temporary bald spots.
In the end, regardless of which kind of hair loss you experience, there should be a treatment that can make it easier for you. Whether you should to use a hair growth shampoo, Minoxidil, hair growth serum or hair growth vitamins, you should be patient. It usually takes a few months before you notice a result. While nothing will totally reverse the damage, many options can minimize it or stop further loss from occurring. As more research is done, however, perhaps we will find the cure to alopecia, and no one will have to lose hair unless they want to.