Hair loss can be devastating for anyone, emotionally and physically, no matter what age or gender. It’s a scary thing to see hair piling up in the drain or on the bathroom floor, and for many people, the cause of hair loss is completely unknown. Many people are also embarrassed to talk about hair loss, and believe that ignoring it can make it go away. This is not true.
The causes for hair loss can be grouped into two categories; one being a temporary effect, and the other being a long-term issue, usually caused by a genetic disease.
Genetic Hair Diseases
There are numerous genetic hair diseases and scalp conditions that can cause alopecia, or hair loss, including alopecia areata and scarring alopecia. Both of these diseases have no known cause. Alopecia areata affects the hair on the scalp, as well as hair all over the body. There is still much research to be done on this disease, but the best thing to do is to see a doctor immediately if you notice that you are losing hair at a rapid pace. Early detection is extremely important.
Scarring alopecia is characterized by patchy baldness and often severe scarring in the patches. This scalp condition is also caused by unknown factors, but this can also be treated effectively if caught early. There are certain oral medications that can improve scarring drastically, and can ease your discomfort.
Other genetic hair diseases include pattern baldness, which is a hereditary condition in which the hair falls out for no know reason. Genetic hair diseases and scalp conditions are less common than temporary effect hair diseases.
Temporary Effect Hair Diseases
The good news as far as hair loss is concerned is that most commonly, hair loss is temporary and due to some sort of treatable element. Hormonal imbalances, scalp trauma and most notably, nutrient deficiencies, are the most common hair loss causes. Hormonal imbalances, such as when a woman goes on or off birth control pills or has a baby, are a temporary reason why some women lose their hair. Such a loss is highly treatable with hormone therapies, resuming oral contraceptives or by letting the body adjust itself. Hair growth often occurs shortly after the woman has started treatment. Scalp trauma, such as from excessive styling products or harmful styling aids, can cause excessive hair loss. To remedy this situation one should stop using the product or styling tool and consult their doctor. Often, no other treatment is needed.
If you notice a bit of extra hair in the sink, the first thing you should do is check your diet. With so many Americans today living on prepackaged and fast foods, people are missing many essential nutrients that are crucial to keeping their hair healthy and luxurious. The most common cause of hair loss is a nutrient deficiency, according to many university studies including one by the University of Cleveland. Lack of iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and protein are all proven causes of hair loss.
Iron is vital to the functions of the body, and the scalp is no exception. Lack of iron is often a female problem that occurs during the reproductive years, and can lead to anemia. For many women, this is often an undiagnosed cause of hair loss. Eating iron rich foods such as red meat, eggs and broccoli can lead to an improvement in hair growth.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial in the healthy functions of the body. According to Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a nutritionist at NYU Medical Center, “...there are many people who may have a sub-clinical lack of omega 3 fatty acids -- these are 'good' fats, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may actually play a role in healthy hair.” Foods containing vitamin B12 -- including eggs, meat and poultry, are also incredibly important to maintaining a healthy scalp and beautiful head of hair. Dermatologists and hair loss experts all agree that this vitamin is vital to everyone to ensure a healthy scalp. In the case of a vitamin B12 deficiency, supplements are imperative to restoring healthy levels and spurring on new hair growth.
Another dangerous deficiency is a lack of protein. When people begin dangerous crash diets, they often cut their calorie intake so low that they do not get enough protein, vitamins and other minerals. This can lead to malnutrition, which will cause the body to shift growing hairs into a resting phase. Hair shedding will increase and hair will be easily pulled out at the roots. Eating a diet rich in protein and getting enough calories will help to reverse the condition and encourage hair growth.
If you still are not convinced that a healthy diet is directly related to a healthy head of hair, try adding more nutrients to your diet or taking supplements, and see if things improve. You have nothing more to lose and a healthy body and scalp to gain.