Thinning hair is an issue that can cause distress and affect personal self-image. It is normal to lose hairs every day, however, losing a greater amount may mean that hair is thinning. This is an issue that affects both men and women, and more and more people are now choosing not to suffer in silence but to seek help.
Thinning hair and hair loss: Symptoms, causes and solutions
What is thinning hair and hair loss?
If your hair’s active growth or anagen phase becomes shorter, your hair follicles produce smaller, thinner and less visible hairs, leading to thinning hair. If this anagen phase halts completely, the affected hair follicles stop producing new hair altogether – leading to hair loss.
Women are more likely to suffer from thinning hair, while men are more likely to experience receding hair, bald patches or total hair loss.
Major causes of thinning hair and hair loss
Hereditary hair loss is the most common form of thinning hair and hair loss in men and women. Also known as female pattern or, male pattern hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, it occurs when the hair follicles have a genetic sensitivity to androgens – the male sex hormones – and to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in particular. When DHT interacts with the hair follicles, this sensitivity causes hair growth to slow or stop, leading to thinning hair or hair loss. In addition, especially in female pattern hair loss, other causal factors are involved.
You can inherit this trait from either your mother’s or your father’s side of the family. And while hair loss or thinning hair is often thought of as something that only affects older people, the condition can start as early as your teens, 20s or 30s.
Most people experience some hair thinning as they age, but not everyone is affected to the same degree.
Men with male pattern baldness usually develop a receding hairline, hair loss at the crown, or both. Over time, men with hereditary hair loss can end up becoming completely bald.
Women with female pattern baldness, on the other hand, tend to develop thinning hair as opposed to total hair loss. This usually sees their hair become thinner across the scalp, especially at the hairline. The crown may be affected, but hereditary hair loss in women rarely proceeds to total baldness.
Microinflammations of the scalp are also a leading contributor to hair thinning and hair loss. They occur when the skin around your hair follicles becomes inflamed and weakens the hair root, making you more vulnerable to hereditary hair loss.
As hair growth is an extremely energy consuming process, it is also very susceptible towards shortages of energy supply to the hair follicle.
What are microinflammations? They’re mild inflammations of the skin. They’re so mild, in fact, that even clinical testing won’t pick them up. But if we study skin tissue encountering microinflammations, we can detect the presence of inflammatory immune cells – in other words, the skin is responding to irritation with inflammation and thereby attempting to repair itself. If these skin cells are then subjected to further irritation, the skin can flip into a “true” inflammatory response.
How are they related to scalp conditions? There’s growing evidence that microinflammations of the scalp are involved in most common scalp disorders – from thinning hair and dandruff, to scalp dryness, itchiness and sensitivity.
If you experience sudden hair loss or brittle hair, you may have an underlying health problem such as thyroid disease, iron deficiency, or an autoimmune disease. Some medications can also cause hair loss. Contact a dermatologist in all instances to get further information.
Common myths of thinning hair
Some of the most widespread misconceptions about thinning hair and hair loss include:
- Massaging your scalp with natural oils can treat hair loss.
- Shaving your head will make your hair grow back thicker.
- Standing on your head promotes hair growth.
- There are “miracle cures” that can make your hair grow back.
Eucerin DermoCapillaire RE-VITALIZING SHAMPOO and Eucerin DermoCapillaire RE-VITALIZING SCALP TREATMENT have been clinically and dermatologically proven to delay hair thinning caused by hereditary hair loss. Learn more about the shampoo or scalp treatment.
Do you have thinning hair?
You may have thinning hair if…
See your doctor or dermatologist if…
Your natural hair parting is starting to widen.
You hair looks or feels thinner than before.
You can see your scalp through your hair.
Your hair is falling out at a much higher rate than normal.
You’re developing bald patches.
Your natural hairline is starting to recede.