With a reported 35 million men and 21 million women suffering from hair loss, baldness is more common than many people think. Hair loss may be more common in men than women but due to its many underlying causes, anyone can be at risk of experiencing baldness.
Whatever the cause, the vast majority of sufferers tend to accept their fate. Many overlook the early signs of hair loss and simply relish the days that they have left with their locks.
Knowing the symptoms of baldness and taking action however is the way to go. Unbeknown to most, there are a variety of treatments to explore and preventative steps to take to stop hair loss in its tracks.
Recognising the signs of hair loss is the first step to receiving the help you need. Here, we take a closer look at the symptoms of hair loss so you can discover exactly what to do about them.
Whether the hair loss you’re about the experience is temporary or permanent, the most obvious and noticeable symptom is the gradual thinning of the hair. Thinning tends to occur on the top of the head in the vast majority of cases, but the rate and pattern in which it thins tends to differ in men and women.
Men tend to experience gradual thinning at the front, with follicles receding from the forehead. Very often thinning occurs in a line resulting in an M or V shaped pattern on the top of the head. On the other hand, women tend to keep their hairline. Instead thinning occurs outwards from the parting of their hair.
Monitoring the gradual thinning of your hair is recommended. Take regular photographs of your hairline and the top of your head over a period of time to determine the rate of thinning. If thinning is accelerating, take action to prevent it before it gets worse.
Make sure you take each picture in similar lighting conditions. The appearance, and more specifically the thickness of your hair, can differ in natural and artificial light. Hair can also appear thinner after you swim or shower, with wet hair clumping together to reveal more of your scalp.
There are many issues that could be contributing to the thinning of your hair. Identifying the underlying cause is advisable. There are other things you can do to alleviate this symptom.
Being gentle when washing and styling your hair is a simple way to prevent further damage and breakages. Instead of brushing your hair, use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers. You should also let your locks dry naturally without rubbing them with a towel.
Treating your hair to an indulgent mask from time to time has its benefits too. You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive hair masks either, you may already have all the ingredients you need in your fridge or kitchen cupboard.
When applied to your hair and scalp, detox juices and green tea provide a healthy boost. Most report that they are able to see a difference after just one week with regular mask application.
Depending on the cause of hair loss, some individuals may develop bald patches or circular spots of baldness. These coin-sized spots and patches aren’t restricted to the head. Many people experiencing this particular symptom may notice a similar effect in their beard or eyebrows.
The appearance of these patches or spots may reveal smooth skin underneath, but areas may be irritable, itchy or painful just before follicles fall out. An itchy scalp alone is not a sign that baldness is on its way however.
The skin on your scalp is likely to be itchy, dry and irritated due to a lack of moisture or excessive amounts of sebum. Neither of these issues cause long-term hair loss and can be rectified or managed by altering your hair care routine.
Whatever the cause of your bald patches, seeking prevention is important. Look after your hair and your scalp by adding a few extras to your hair care regime. Regularly wash your hair and scalp with the right shampoo for your hair type. Those with oily or dandruff prone hair will benefit from an aloe vera and neem oil based product.
Massage can be used to look after your scalp as well as reduce another underlying cause of hair loss, stress. Massage your scalp daily and add essential oils to unlock other hair health enhancing plus-points.
Everyone loses hair, it’s a part of the natural hair cycle. But how do you know when hair loss is becoming excessive? Dermatologist Dr Francesca Fusco explains how much hair loss is normal:
“The average person who is brushing or combing their hair every day—and this part is important—should lose between 50 and 100 strands. The brushing or combing part should be noted, because not everyone does that, or needs to do that. When you look closely at the hairs that are coming out, they should be more or less the length of your hair, and you should see a little white bulb on the end. That indicates the hair was supposed to shed, and it was just time for it to come out so that a new hair could replace it.”
If you are losing four or five strands of hair every time you wash, brush, comb or style your hair, then excessive hair loss shouldn’t be a concern. Sudden and excessive hair loss results in handfuls of hair coming out, a symptom that contributes to overall thinning.
Sudden, excessive hair loss can be temporary in some circumstances. Stress, weight loss, sunburn, fever, and even jet lag can cause excessive shedding to occur for a day or two. Again, this is nothing to be concerned about. But if you are experiencing hair loss on a daily basis for a longer period of time, treatment should be sought.
While experiencing some hair loss is completely natural, excessive hair loss shouldn’t be tolerated. There are many steps you can take to work towards gaining stronger and healthier hair, and most start with changing elements of your lifestyle.
Alter your diet to include more protein. Protein provides an excellent boost for hair protein, keratin, improving the health of your hair all-round. Fish, eggs, chicken, dairy, and plant protein can all be used to up protein levels in your diet. You should also incorporate more green vegetables and soluble fibre into your diet.
What you drink is just as important. Make sure you stay well hydrated by getting your eight glasses of water per day. Increasing the amount you exercise and quitting smoking are also musts for those looking to improve hair health from within.
Those undergoing medical treatment, such as chemotherapy for cancer, may experience full body hair loss. This occurs when all the hair on your head and on the rest of your body falls out.
Full body hair loss is commonly linked with hormone issues and the use of certain medications too. Depending on its underlying cause, this type of hair loss is very sudden but is in most circumstances temporary.
Full body hair loss may occur as a result of a medical condition. Those with the autoimmune disease lupus, for instance, tend to lose the hair on their head, face and body. People with alopecia universalis - a more advanced form of the better known condition, alopecia areata - suffer from complete body hair loss.
If you are experiencing full body hair loss, seeking advice from a medical professional is recommended. Your doctor will be able to work with you to establish an underlying cause and arrange a suitable treatment to help ease symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
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