For all of you follically challenged, or “if you know someone who knows someone who is follically challenged”, here is a crash study on hair loss.
There are several types of hair loss: Alopecia Universalis (loss of all of your body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes), Alopecia Totalis (the loss of all of your scalp hair) and Alopecia Areata (the loss of hair in patches, or areas).
Factors that are involved in hair loss include heredity, hormones and aging. Researchers have yet to agree on the exact cause of hair loss, but some scientists believe the body’s immune system mistakes hair follicles for foreign tissue, and attacks them. Many also suspect a genetic component. Just another thing to blame on your parents!
Less dramatic, but no less trumatic and more prevalent is Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness or MPB). As the name implies, a genetic or hereditary predisposition to the disorder and the presence of androgens- male sex hormones- are involved in this condition. Research indicates that the hair follicles of individuals susceptible to MPB may have receptors programmed to slow down or shut off hair production under the influence of androgens.
All women experience some thinning as they grow older, but it is not usually as extensive and most often does not occur until after menopause (another thing to look forward to!).
Most creepy, but true, is that there is a species of tiny mite, called Demodex follicularum, that may be the cause of, or a contributing factor to, balding. These mites are present in all hair follicles by the time a person reaches middle age, and in most cases cause no harm (but I itch just thinking of them!). Researchers believe that the difference between people who lose their hair and those who do not may lie in how the scalp reacts to the presence of these mites. If the body initiates the inflammatory response as it tries to reject the mites, this may close down the hair follicles, thus killing the mites,but also killing the hair.
As if that weren’t enough to stress you out, here are some other factors that promote hair loss: heredity, poor circulation, acute illness, surgery, radiation exposure, skin disease, sudden weightloss, high fever, iron deficiency, thyroid disease, chemotherapy drugs, poor diet, fungal infections such as ringworm, vitamin deficiencies and stress.
If you are interested in learning about ways to prevent, stop or reverse hair loss, just check back here over the next few days!