The just-concluded 94th Academy Award ceremony (the Oscars) was anything but a regular affair. Besides the pomp and pageantry, there was an altercation that will not soon be forgotten. While presenting an award on Sunday, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Will Smith then walked onstage, slapped the comedian and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!”. This altercation has been met with mixed reactions but one positive thing that has come out of it is that it’s created a lot of awareness about women’s hair loss. Before the Oscars, Jada recently posted on social media about her battle with Alopecia Areata, which is a type of hair loss when the immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in bald patches that may overlap. 

So there’s this assumption that hair loss is primarily associated with men. It is commonly assumed to be a male disease, but in reality, and this is very interesting, 40% of women have visible hair loss by the age of 40, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Women suffer from hair loss as much as men, and it’s harder on women because, from a young age, it’s ingrained in us that our hair has a major part to play in how beautiful we look. A man can decide to go bald and no one will question it, but for a woman, that will raise eyebrows and unnecessary commentary. 

Even though none of these conditions can be fixed using home remedies, and it’s advised to seek medical advice from professionals, it is still wise to learn about them and their causes and course of treatment.

Here are four common types of hair loss:

Telogen effluvium

This is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. It usually occurs on the top of the scalp. This condition occurs more often in women. 

Symptoms 

The main symptom of telogen effluvium is an increase in the amount of hair a person sheds. A person may notice that more hair than usual is falling out when they wash or brush their hair. They may also find more hair in the drain or on their pillow.

Causes

Severe stress can cause telogen effluvium to occur. A variety of other factors include:

  • Extremely stressful situation: Telogen effluvium can develop as a result of prolonged stress. Hair loss usually occurs about three months after a stressful event.
  • Poor dietary habits: Hair growth necessitates the consumption of essential nutrients such as protein, iron, B vitamins, and zinc. A lack of these nutrients may have an impact on the quality and quantity of a person’s hair.
  • Sudden weight loss: Hair loss can occur as a result of weight loss or chronic calorie restriction, such as in anorexia nervosa.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth: During pregnancy, more hair is in the growth phase for a longer period. Hormonal changes that occur 3 to 6 months after birth can cause hair loss.
  • Menopause: Hormonal changes during menopause can result in telogen effluvium.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications and recreational drugs, can cause hair loss.
  • Underlying health conditions: These can include autoimmune diseases, thyroid gland disorders, and alopecia areata.
  • Surgery: Depending on the type of procedure, length of hospital stay, medications, and overall nutritional status.
  • Metal toxicity: Exposure to toxic chemicals in a metal can result in hair loss.

Treatments

Treatment for telogen effluvium depends on what is triggering the hair loss. Once the trigger has been established and addressed, the hair cycle should normalize and the hair will begin to grow back.

Treatment options include:

  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies through diet
  • Non-surgical hair replacement
  • Hormone replacement therapy for people experiencing menopause
  • Counselling support to manage stress or anxiety

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is a common form of hair loss in both men and women. In men, this condition is also known as male-pattern baldness. 

Symptoms

With male pattern baldness, hair loss typically occurs on the top and front of the head. With female pattern baldness, thinning occurs on the top and crown of the head. This thinning in women often starts as a widening of the centre hair part that leaves the front hairline unaffected.

Causes

A variety of genetic and environmental factors likely play a role in causing androgenetic alopecia. Researchers have determined that this form of hair loss is related to hormones called androgens, particularly an androgen called dihydrotestosterone. Androgens are important for normal male sexual development before birth and during puberty. Androgens also have other important functions in both males and females, such as regulating hair growth and sex drive.

Treatments

Treatment for this condition varies. Medication may prevent further hair loss. In some cases, surgeons can transplant hair or reduce the area of bald skin. Natural-looking wigs and hairpieces can help cover hair loss.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. There are more than one hundred thousand cases per year in Nigeria. In the majority of cases, hair falls out in small patches around the size of a quarter. Most people’s hair loss is limited to a few patches, though it can be more severe in some cases. Sometimes, it can lead to the complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in extreme cases, the entire body (alopecia Universalis). The condition can affect anyone, regardless of age and gender, though most cases occur before the age of 30.

Symptoms

The most prominent symptom of alopecia areata is patchy hair loss. Coin-sized patches of hair begin to fall out, mainly from the scalp. Any site of hair growth may be affected, though, including the beard and eyelashes. The loss of hair can be sudden, developing in just a few days or over a few weeks. There may be itching or burning in the area before hair loss. 

Alopecia areata can also affect the fingernails and toenails, and sometimes these changes are the first sign that the condition is developing. Some small changes can occur to nails:

  • Pinpoint dents appear
  • White spots and lines appear
  • Nails become rough
  • Nails lose their shine
  • The nails become thin and split

Causes

The condition occurs when white blood cells attack the cells in hair follicles, causing them to shrink and dramatically slow down hair production. It is unknown precisely what causes the body’s immune system to target hair follicles in this way. Genetics is also involved, as alopecia areata is more likely to occur in a person who has a close family member with the disease. One in five people with the disease has a family member who has also developed alopecia areata. Other research has found that many people with a family history of alopecia areata also have a personal or family history of other autoimmune disorders, such as atopy, a disorder characterized by a tendency to be hyperallergic, thyroiditis, and vitiligo.

Treatments

There is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that can be suggested by doctors to help hair regrow more quickly. Such treatment may address any underlying conditions and may include topical scalp medication.

Too busy to visit our blog every day? We get it! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get our best stories delivered to your mailbox every Friday!

Leave a Reply