Hair loss—also known as alopecia—is extremely common, impacting nearly 80% of men and almost 50% of women in the US at some point in their life.
Despite how common it is, it typically has a negative effect on a person's self esteem. There is hope, however. With hair loss treatment, lifestyle changes, and scalp micropigmentation, you can slow or prevent hair loss, regrow hair, and hide the appearance of thinning hair or balding.
But first, let's talk about hair loss. More than complete baldness, there is a spectrum of hair loss symptoms.
What Qualifies as Hair Loss?
You may think those that struggle with hair loss are completely bald. Or perhaps you think losing any amount of hair means you have hair loss. Neither of these are accurate.
Plenty of people deal with losing hair without ever experiencing complete hair loss. And most people naturally lose anywhere between 50-100 strands of hair per day via normal hair shedding. Think about what's in your brush or comb after you run it through your hair.
But when hair loss exceeds normal shedding on a regular basis, you may be experiencing hair thinning or loss.
Signs of hair loss include:
- Gradual thinning hair on top of head
- Receding hairline
- Widening part lines
- Patches of broken hairs on the scalp and/or eyebrows
- Circular or patchy bald spots
- Sudden loosening of hair
- Full-body hair loss
- Patches of scaling on the scalp
The Hair Growth Cycle
To understand normal hair growth, it's important to know the cycles your hair goes through. The hair growth cycle consists of four stages:
1. Growing phase (anagen) - lasts 3-5 years. During this phase, your hair follicles will push out hairs that will grow until they reach the end of their lifespan and fall out or you get a haircut. At any given time, approximately 90% of the hairs on your head are in this phase.
2. Transition phase (catagen) - starts immediately after the anagen phase ends and lasts approximately 10 days. Hair growth slows and your hair follicles shrink during this phase. Around 5% of the hair on your head is in this phase at any given time.
3. Resting phase (telogen) - lasts around 3 months. Hairs don't grow or fall out in this phase. The hair follicles are resting. At any time, 10-15% of your hair is in the resting phase.
4. Shedding phase (exogen) - lasts 2-5 months. Hair falls out at a rate of 50-100 hairs per day during this phase.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss can be attributed to a wide variety of causes, both hereditary and acquired. The causes of hair loss differs for everyone, but there are a few common culprits.
Hereditary Hair Loss
Genetics is one of the most common factors, with patterns of hair loss often passed down through generations. This is commonly referred to as male and female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), while medically, it is known as androgenetic alopecia. The factors that cause this type of hair loss to be so prevalent are unknown.
Hormonal Causes of Hair Loss
Hormonal changes also play a significant role in hair loss. Fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause may impact the hair growth cycle and cause hair loss. Chronic conditions that contribute to hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also lead to hair thinning or excessive shedding. In addition, some forms of hormonal birth control can cause patients to lose hair.
Non-hormonal medical conditions and treatments can be the cause of hair loss as well. Diseases like iron deficiency (anemia), lupus, thyroid disease, and more can lead to hair loss. Additionally, certain medications, especially those used in cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, often result in temporary or permanent hair loss.
Mental health conditions like trichotillomania (a hair pulling disorder) and chronic anxiety can also contribute to hair loss.
Alopecia areata is a disease that causes your immune system to attack hair follicles, causing hair loss. There are multiple types of alopecia, but there are the three most common:
- Alopecia areata - causes patchy hair loss on the scalp, although it can appear anywhere on the body.
- Alopecia totalis - causes complete hair loss on the scalp.
- Alopecia areata universalis - causes total hair loss on the entire body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair.
Alopecia often goes hand-in-hand with another autoimmune disease like psoriasis, thyroid disease, and type 1 diabetes.
Environmental and lifestyle factors also lead to hair loss. Exposure to harsh chemicals, excessive heat styling, and tight hairstyles (traction alopecia) that pull on the hair can cause damage and breakage. In addition, nutritional deficiencies like a lack of iron or vitamin D can impact hair follicle health. Persistent emotional and physical stress can lead to telogen effluvium, where a significant amount of hair follicles enter a resting phase, causing noticeable hair loss.
If you've lost hair due to environmental or lifestyle causes, the normal hair growth cycle should resume once the cause(s) end.
Understanding the cause of your hair loss is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan. If you're experiencing persistent or severe hair loss, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional to identify the specific cause and explore your options.
When to See a Doctor About Hair Loss
If you notice you are experiencing sudden or significant hair loss, it's important to see your doctor or dermatologist to rule out any underlying conditions. If you notice other symptoms like rapid weight loss or gain, lethargy, or heart palpitations, see your doctor immediately. These may be signs of an autoimmune disease.
If hair loss is caused by medication like birth control pills, your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives.
Hair Loss Treatments to Promote Hair Growth
If you are experiencing hair thinning, there are steps that may slow hair loss and regrow hair. These approaches may not be effective for everyone, especially for those with hereditary or permanent hair loss or loss related to medical conditions.
Still, some tips to improve hair growth include:
- Eat a balanced diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Avoid using heat tools such as flat irons and curling wands.
- Do not use harsh products like peroxide or perm chemicals on your hair.
- Wear loose hair styles and avoid tight ponytails or buns.
- Try an over-the-counter medication like minoxidil to promote hair regrowth. (Check with your primary care provider before starting any medication.)
- Explore low-level laser therapy to stimulate hair growth.
- If you are undergoing cancer treatment, ask your oncologist about a cooling cap. This can prevent hair loss caused by chemotherapy and radiation.
If your hair loss is caused by lifestyle factors or conditions like pregnancy and childbirth, these tips can help promote new hair growth. Be patient, though. It may take months or even years to
Types of Hair Loss Solutions
If you have hair loss, you don't have to wear hats to hide it. Here are some of the most effective ways to restore the look of your hair.
Scalp micropigmentation is a type of tattooing that inserts organic plant-based pigment deposits through the dermal layer of the scalp, filling in thinning spots and giving the appearance of hair follicles. This treatment is used to treat patients with both male and female pattern hair loss. It's ideal if you have a receding hairline or permanent hair loss. Since the treatment is permanent, it's not recommended for those with temporary hair loss.
Wigs and Hair Extensions
For those with alopecia totalis, wigs are often a good solution for their hair loss. High-quality, natural looking wigs are no longer hard to find or prohibitively expensive.
If you are experiencing alopecia areata, hair extensions may be a good solution for you. Since extensions need to attach to natural hair, you need to have a certain amount of hair for the stylist to work with. If you're interested in hair extensions, we recommend discussing it with your hair stylist. If they don't provide extensions, they can point you in the direction of a stylist that does.
Hair transplants or hair grafts are probably the first thing you think of when you think about disguising hair loss. While these treatments can be effective, they are often extremely expensive. The total cost depends on the amount of hair being transplanted, but most patients can expect to pay a minimum of $4,000 for treatment.
Restore The Look of Your Hair With Zang SMP
For those experiencing hair thinning, male pattern hair loss, or female pattern hair loss in Los Angeles, Zang SMP can help. With state-of-the-art scalp micropigmentation techniques, we'll help boost your self esteem and make you feel like yourself again. To get started, schedule your consultation today.