Basically, it is completely normal to lose hair. As a rule of thumb, losing up to 100 hairs per day is normal. Though it varies with the individual and depends on various factors. The season also plays an important role. Because not only animals, but also people have thinner hair in summer.
However, if the guideline value is exceeded permanently and the hair falls out in clusters, this can be an indication of serious illnesses. In this case, it is advisable to see a doctor who will research the exact causes of hair loss.
Reasons for hair loss
Hair loss, in medical term alopecia, is always a symptom, but not an independent disease. The triggers for hair loss can be very different.
1. Hereditary (Androgenetic alopecia)
It affects men more often than women. Due to a genetic hypersensitivity to male sex hormones, the growth phase of the hair is shortened and the hair follicles wither. Only short, thin and barely visible hair are produced.
Men are generally more likely to experience hair loss than women. In about 80 percent of cases, this is due to androgenetic alopecia. This usually begins with a receding hairline and thinning at the temples which expands over time to the top of the head and can develop into a full bald head. Often, however, a hair ring remains at the back edges of the head. In androgenetic alopecia, the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the cause for hair loss.
Crash diets and mineral deficiency often lead to hair loss. A balanced diet is an essential prerequisite for healthy, strong hair because the hair follicles and hair roots need many nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and trace elements. Biotin and B vitamins are particularly important for hair build-up. Therefore, hair loss can also indicate a deficiency.
3. Autoimmune diseases
Particularly with circular hair loss (alopecia areata), it is suspected that there is an autoimmune reaction behind which the immune system attacks the hair roots.
4. Hormone changes
Hormone-related hair loss affects women especially during pregnancy, after childbirth, while breastfeeding and during menopause.
5. Mental Stress
Stress, grief, depression and other mental illnesses can also lead to hair loss.
6. Infectious diseases
Severe flu, scarlet fever, typhoid and tuberculosis can inhibit hair growth and promote hair loss.
7. Overactive and underactive thyroid
They contribute to a change in the metabolism, as a result of which the hair becomes brittle and falls out more quickly.
Antidepressants and cardiovascular medications such as anticoagulants can lead to diffuse hair loss. Some women also suffer from hair loss due to the birth control pills.
9. Radiation and chemotherapy
The therapies to cure cancer often lead to temporary hair loss.
10. Scars on the head
Scars usually form as a result of infections and prevent hair from growing back in these areas.
11. Influence of heat
Too hot blow drying and the use of a flat iron damage the hair structure and promote hair loss.
12. Physical stress
Persistent tension on the hair roots due to braiding and strict tying back of the hair can lead to hair loss, especially in the temples and forehead area.
13. Aggressive shampoos and care products
They damage the hair structure and damage the hair roots. This can also lead to hair breakage and hair loss.
14. Hair dyeing
Frequent dyeing and inferior dyeing products permanently damage the hair. The result is brittle hair and, in the worst case, hair loss.
Diffuse alopecia, which turn out evenly over the head hair, men are affected slightly less often than women. Usually it is stress, smoking, too little sleep or a poor diet that leads to thinning and loss of scalp hair. But diseases of the thyroid gland, metabolic disorders or certain medications can also promote hair loss.
Stress is a common cause of diffuse alopecia in women . Around 40 percent of all women with hair loss problem are affected by diffuse alopecia. Hormone fluctuations can also be the cause of hair loss in women. This often happens after birth and during menopause, when the estrogen level drops and the hormonal balance has to be rearranged.
Circular hair loss is not gender-specific and affects women and men equally. This creates round, bald spots on the scalp. The causes of circular hair loss have not yet been sufficiently clarified. However, experts suspect that those affected have an autoimmune reaction due to a disturbance in the immune system. As a result, the immune cells are directed against healthy cells in the hair roots.
The protein ferritin is a marker to determine iron deficiency. Its value can be measured using a blood test. If it is too low, it can result in hair loss. The deficiency can be caused by an insufficient supply of iron through food, increased blood loss or insufficient iron intake via the intestine.
A lack of zinc can also lead to hair loss. The trace element is largely responsible for the formation of collagen, through which the hair is firmly attached to the skin. Zinc is found in cheese, milk, eggs and meat, which is why vegetarians and vegans often suffer from zinc deficiency.
The treatment of hair loss
Hair loss is not just a cosmetic condition or a disease for those affected, but it is also psychologically stressful. Many treatments are available depending on the underlying disease or disorder that is causing hair loss. However, it is important that the dermatologist has made an accurate diagnosis for the cause beforehand.
When to see the doctor?
As soon as you notice increased hair loss of over 100 hairs per day, you should see a doctor. The doctor takes a medical history of the duration and location of the hair loss and checks whether there are any other symptoms. A blood test is also carried out to rule out possible diseases or a lack of nutrients. An analysis of the hair roots, also called a trichogram , can then be carried out. It provides information about the current status of hair loss. The results can be used to estimate the hair loss to be expected in the next few months.
Circular hair loss, on the other hand, is often treated with cortisone creams and solutions . They are said to alleviate the inflammatory immune response in the affected areas. In some patients this works, but in others the hair does not grow back. Basically, this treatment is only successful as long as it lasts. After stopping the cream, the scalp hair often falls out again.
Diffuse hair loss, on the other hand, in which the hair falls out evenly over the entire head, usually improves by treating the underlying disease or after stopping the causative medication. If there is protein, zinc or iron deficiency behind the excessive hair loss, the deficit must be compensated for through diet or nutritional supplements.
When is a hair transplant suitable?
Receding hairline and baldness with hereditary hair loss can be hidden with hair transplant . The procedure is usually carried out with your own hair. Hair roots are taken from densely hairy areas of the head and planted on the bald areas of the scalp. Hair roots can also be removed from other parts of the body. Though, this procedure is performed by an experienced dermatologist.
However, hair transplant is less suitable for women with hereditary alopecia, because they usually do not form bald spots, but generally thinner hair. There is usually no complete baldness. Even with circular hair loss, a hair transplant does not make sense, because after a few months the hair often grows back on its own.