Losing your hair is an unfortunate reality for many Canadians. On average, an adult loses between 50-100 strands of hair per day. You may be balding if you lose more than this.
Balding means the formation of a bald spot on the crown of the head, near the temples, on the forehead or in other places. Thinning of hair on top of the head is one of the most common places for a spot to form, but bald spots can happen anywhere.
Bald spots that form elsewhere can be indicative of serious medical conditions. If you find you are losing hair (patchy loss on your head or seeing more of your scalp) the problem should not be ignored. To understand why hair loss can be serious, it is important to understand what causes hair loss and why it happens. The life span of a hair follicle consists of 3 phases:
1. Anagen (Growth Phase): This is when the hair grows approximately 1 cm per month. It can last from three to five years. Genetics determine the span at which the hair remains in this stage of growth. The longer the hair stays in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow.
2. Catagen (Transitional Phase): During this phase, the hair follicle shrinks, growth stops and the hair stops receiving nutrients. This phase normally lasts 2 weeks.
3. Telogen (Shedding Phase): During this phase, the hair follicle remains dormant and the hair is considered dead. The hair follicle will begin to regrow and this forces the old hair to fall out (shedding).
Hair loss occurs when more follicles than normal enter the telogen phase and remain there. Sometimes this can be indefinite.
Causes of hair loss
Bald spots can be best categorized as symptoms of three types of hair loss. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it represents the most common causes of hair loss.
This type of hair loss is the probable culprit, especially if your bald spot is on your crown. Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the result of hormonal damage to hair follicles. It can start as early as your twenties, or much later in life. It may also be responsible for receding hairlines. Research has shown genetics can predispose you to this type of hair loss.
Traction alopecia is hair loss due to external, non-genetic factors. This is due to damage/injury to the hair follicle. Damage can come from a variety of sources. The most common ones are tight hairstyles and chemical irritants that damage the follicle. Traction alopecia can also occur due to obsessive disorders that cause you to pull out your own hair.
Alopecia areata is not a form of hair loss; it is a symptom of an autoimmune disease. Alopecia areata is when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. This can result in patchy hair loss on your scalp or elsewhere on your body. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent hair loss. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, hair loss from alopecia areata can manifest as patches of hair loss. These patches can jump from one location to another. They can heal and then start again elsewhere. A variety of autoimmune diseases can cause sudden hair loss in the form of alopecia areata. This includes atopic dermatitis, hay fever, vitiligo, thyroid diseases, asthma or down syndrome.
All of this might sounds scary, but there are treatments to help you regrow your hair. Speak to your primary care provider or a SpotCare provider today to learn more about hair loss and the treatments.