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It is completely normal to experience some hair loss. Usually we shed about 100 hairs a day, but that can range anywhere from 50 to 150 hairs a day. Our hair is growing all the time and when old hair falls out a new hair begins to grow in the same follicle or spot. The life expectancy of a single hair is between 3 and 6 years long.


Unfortunately, many of us do or will experience hair loss that exceeds daily shedding. Hair loss, which occurs in both men and women, can have a range of causes, treatments and outcomes. If you are experiencing rapid hair loss it is stongly recommended that you have a check up from your doctor so that the root of the problem can be identified. Some forms of hair loss are only temporary and can be reversed with proper nutrition and/or hair loss products, such as pills or shampoos.


Hair Loss In Men

Due simply to aging, fifty percent of men over the age of 50 suffer from male pattern baldness (MPB) which usually begins on the top of the head and moves its way forward. This inherited form of hair loss is thought to stem from an excess of male hormones around the hair follicles which block growth.


Hair loss In Women

Only about 15% of women will experience female pattern baldness which is due to a medical condition rather than strictly genetics. When women reach the menopause years estrogen levels drop and in some cases the male hormone found in women increases. This generates an overall thinning of the hair in women after menopause. This type of baldness is milder than male pattern baldness. Temporary hair loss can also be due to a pregnancy and childbirth. If you have been taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) and stop, this too can cause temporary shedding.


Types of Hair Loss

The most common type of hair loss is due to genetic programming or in other words in most cases hair loss is hereditary. In fact 95% of all types of hair loss are from what is known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness coming from inherited genes.


The loss of hair from any part of the body for any reason is called Alopecia. The different types of Alopecia are:


  • Androgenic Alopecia – Male pattern baldness, Female pattern baldness, due primarily to genetics and aging

  • Areata Alopecia – temporary bald patches on the scalp usually occurring in children with immune system problems (approximately 1% of children are affected)

  • Totalis Alopecia – complete loss of hair on the scalp

  • Univeralis Alopecia – complete hair loss over the entire body, including eyebrows, pubic hair and facial hair


Causes of Hair Loss

There are a variety of reasons your hair may start falling out:


  • Genetics – we know that 95% of all hair loss can be put down to family history.

  • Aging – Yes our bodies change as we age and our hair is not exempt.

  • Health Issues – Chronic illnesses such as uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, lupus, psoriasis (extremely dry scalp), kidney and liver disease, anemia and Cushing’s disease are all medical health problems that can accompany balding. Addictions to street drugs (among other deadly problems) will also promote hair loss.

  • Medications – Lithium, beta-blockers, cancer and arthritis drugs, chemotherapy, medications for high blood pressure, antidepressants and blood thinners are all known to contribute to hair loss.

  • Surgery – One of the side effects from general anesthesia after a medical operation may be hair loss which will usually grows back within a matter of months.

  • Hair treatments – Hair coloring, perms, bleaching, hair straightening and over processing can all lead to hair loss. Wearing tight braids, ponytails, buns, and barrettes can all weaken and damage the hairs or cause bald spots to develop.

  • Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause - For women, these situations can bring on shedding. Baldness that occurs from pregnancy and childbirth is usually reversed in the months after the baby arrives and the mothers’ body slowly returns to normal. After menopause 15% of women will experience general overall thinning of scalp hair.

  • Poor Diet and Nutrition - Poor diet and improper nutrition are often at the root of hair loss when the other afore mentioned factors are not present.


Diet, Weight Loss and Hair Loss

Lack of proper diet leads to nutritional deficiencies which increase hair shedding. With poor diet hair shafts weaken and break off easily as well as slowing the growth of new hair. The number one cause of diet-related hair loss is “crash diets” or extreme dieting. Diets that require taking copious amounts of pills or any that involve the use of laxatives are also contributors of diet based balding. Not only are these types of diets unkind to your hair they can also bring with them a host of other severe health issues. The body requires many different vitamins and minerals to function properly and so does our hair as it is made up of protein. If you are experiencing any hair loss it is highly recommended to take a daily supplement of vitamins and minerals to boost your overall health. Your hair is a barometer of your well-being. When we are healthy our hair is shiny and strong. When unwell the hair will be dull, lank and weak. Good eating habits, a nutritious well balanced diet and a regular exercise regime all geared around your particular lifestyle not only improves your general health but are the best things you can do to prevent hair loss.


Hair Loss Treatments

Although there are no cures for severe hair loss it can be slowed down and stopped. Besides, baldness in the eyes of society is changing; bald is beautiful and with the likes of Captain Jean Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise, baldness has come to be seen as very sexy on some people. It really depends on what kind of shape your skull is in. You may want to consider another look (like a wig) if you have a misshapen head or if you have dents in your skull. Hair loss can be quite devastating to an individual’s self-esteem and can come with a host of psychological issues that are best handled by a mental health professional.


The good news about losing your hair is that the only physical damage done is cosmetic, but as mentioned earlier, hair loss can come with sometimes crippling emotional distress. So what are the alternatives? The American Hair Loss Association states “99% of all products being marketed in the less than ethical hair loss treatments industry are completely ineffective for the majority of those who use them”. This “less than ethical industry” generates over 3 billion dollars of business annually. When choosing a hair loss product it is in your best interests to be informed. Read product information carefully, pay attention to any side effects listed and whether the product manufacturer stands behind their product with a 100% money back guarantee. Do not use any products that have not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).


With any form of hair loss treatment the earlier the intervention the greater the results will be. Unfortunately with most of the medications available on the market to treat balding, the benefits such as regrowth disappear when you stop taking or using the substance. Here are some hair loss treatment options:


  • Surgery – as in hair transplants where hair is taken from thick areas on the head and surgically implanted into hair follicles that have stopped growing.

  • Wigs – hair replacement products have come a long way and the more costly wigs are very comfortable and impossible to spot.

  • Laser Hair Therapy – increase the blood flow to the scalp thereby stimulating new growth

  • Shampoos, conditioners and hair extracts – Hair care products such as ‘Nisim’ are hair stimulating systems formulated to foster new growth.

  • Minoxil – is the only known substance proven to re-grow hair that has been approved by the FDA for this purpose. It is available in liquid form that is applied topically to the scalp twice a day and is approved for use by both men and women to combat hair loss. ‘Rogaine’ is an example of minoxil.

  • Provillus – available in both capsules and as a topical agent, this product contains minoxil. The best results are reported when the daily supplemental capsule and topical cream are used together. Provillus contains essential vitamins and minerals to promote healthy hair growth and its key ingredient is ‘horsetail’, an herb known for its rejuvenating properties. Provillus is most effective when used on mild, early stage alopecia.

  • Propecia (Proscar) – is the latest medication for treating male pattern baldness only and works by reducing the male hormones that contribute to the problem. Under the brand name ‘Finasteride’Propecia was the first pill approved by the FDA (in 1997) for use in treating male pattern baldness, but has not been approved for use by women. It takes about 3 to 6 months to see the benefits from this medication and baldness will return when the treatment is discontinued.


Sudden Hair Loss

And finally, remember that sudden or extreme hair loss may be a symptom of other underlying illnesses. If this should occur, see a medical doctor immediately. For all types of hair loss it is a good idea to consult your physician anyway, as they will be able to identify which type of balding you are dealing with and can then recommend the best form of treatment. If all else should fail you can always buy a hat.