Influences that damage your hair
An increased strain on your hair can damage it permanently. The resulting breaking off of hair is sometimes confused with pathological hair loss. Some of these damaging influences are:
Excessive heat due to blow drying, sun or use of a solarium.
Damage due to too frequent use of very alkaline shampoo.
Dyeing, colouring, bleaching or perming.
More than 50% of men suffer from hereditary hair loss. In this case, the hair root is genetically programmed in such a way that even with normal testosterone levels hair loss and baldness appear. The reason is not testosterone itself but its by-product dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The hair root becomes smaller with each cycle and forms thinner, less pigmented lanugo hair. Ultimately, these hairs fall out and a bald spot remains.
For men hair loss usually starts above the temples and in the tonsure area.
In women, thinning usually begins at the parting(top of the head), though a dense portion of a few millimetres of hair remains along the frontal hair line.
A disorder of sexual hormones can lead to a shortage of the growing phase of the hair and also to a decrease of the growth speed and hair thickness. These hormonal fluctuations can occur naturally, be caused by medications or can be a sign of a hormonal disorder. Often this hair loss is accompanied by increased facial hair.
Influence of thyroid gland hormones in hair growth
Hair loss that appears with a hyper/hypo-function of the thyroid gland, is reversible after re-establishing the balance of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, apart from its influence on the hair cycle, also has other effects. in the metabolism that can also directly or indirectly impair hair growth. Hair loss(alopecia) caused by thyroid insufficiency begins very slowly. In a hair root analysis(trichogram) an increased number of hairs are found during the sleeping phase. A severe thyroid hyper function may cause a diffuse Alopecia of the hair and decreasing body hair in 50%¨of the cases.
Malnutrition can also have an important influence on hair growth.
In most cases, the malnutrition is due to a lack of protein calories. Even in countries with a high living standard a protein deficiency is not uncommon. Vegetarians are especially affected by this. A lack of nutrition caused by eating disorders, commonly found in young females, can be a cause for hair loss, which is often overlooked. Also overweight people, especially young adults that turn to diets of fruit or salad. Protein deficiencies due to dieting can lead to an early sleeping phase entry of the hair. The same can occur from a loss of blood, i.e. after blood donations.
An iron deficiency, in spite of a normal haemoglobin level, can cause loss of hair.
If an iron deficiency is diagnosed, the cause should be clarified and a substitution therapy with the appropriate medication started. Your pharmacist will be pleased to advise you.
An zinc deficiency is characterized by eczema and accompanied by diarrhoea, tiredness and hair loss. In cases of a chronic zinc deficiency, skin changes appear after about 2 weeks. Reddening and flaking of the skin occur in the corners of the mouth; also a decrease of the main hair and eye brows.
Hair loss due to medication or sickness
Some types of medication may cause loss of hair. For that reason it has to be verified, whether medication the patient is taking may be the cause of his loosing hair. In addition the possibility of occupational or accidental contact with certain chemicals has to be considered.
The microscopical examination of fallen and growing hair can show the type of follicle damage and thus point out the influence of a certain chemical.
A chronic kidney dysfunction may contribute to hair loss. As a result, the hair becomes dry, breakable and sparse.
Also the body hair, including the genital and armpit hair become thinner and the nails turn brittle and may be deformed.
High fever can also cause hair loss. It is estimated that a body temperature of more than 39°C is needed in order to lead to hair loss. Repeated fevers have a bigger effect than a single one, damaging follicles in their sensitive stage of the cycle during every fever. Hair loss starts about 8-10 weeks after the first fever. Usually the hair recoveres completely.
Slight hair loss after giving birth is normal. But often, this hair loss is enough to make patients worry. Sometimes, highly increased hair loss occurs. In some women hair loss begins one month after giving birth, but usually only after 2-3 months. It never leads to complete hair loss though. Full spontaneous recovery will take 3-12 months.