Alopecia or hair loss can occur for different reasons. Even if in many cases it’s a consequence of hereditary factors, some people may develop it as a direct effect of hormonal changes, as a side effect of treatments or diseases, as a result of an unhealthy diet or due to the intake of certain medications.

Sometimes it’s possible to stop it by changing our medication, our eating habits or by reducing our stress levels, but some other times, as is the case with genetic causes, it’s necessary to be seen by a doctor who, after studying the kind of alopecia that we’ve developed and it’s intensity, will guide us through the hair regrowth process.

That’s why you should get an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice you’re suddenly starting to lose hair. This way, you’ll start a treatment right away that’s going to stop the hair loss at first and, then, will resume the hair follicle growth.

Symptoms

You should consider these symptoms as clear warnings. They can suddenly or gradually appear and damage your scalp or any other part of your body covered with hair.

Gradual thinning of the hair follicle:  this is one of the first symptoms that can warn us of alopecia. Along with it, hair often begins to recede from the forehead and you can see a distinguishable separation between every hair strand.

-Presence of little bald spots: one of the most evident alopecia symptoms is the appearance of patchy bald spots. Although is common for them to appear on the scalp, they often spread through other areas such as the beard and the brows. In some cases, these bald spots can cause itching and pain.

-Sudden hair loss: this is the most common alopecia symptom for those who, because of a physical or psychological problem, are affected by a debilitated hair health. In a number of cases, big amounts of hair come out just by the sheer fact of brushing it or washing it. This intense hair loss often restarts with the growth of thin and weak follicles that will also end up falling.

-General hair loss: people who develop this symptom are usually undergoing an aggressive treatment or taking medications that cause the debilitation of the hair follicles as a side effect. Hair regrows as soon as the treatment is over or the medication is changed.

-Scalp peeling: this alopecia symptom usually starts with the loss of hair strength and gloss and it can produce redness on the scalp, swelling and oozing.

If you happen to have one of the above-mentioned symptoms or if you start noticing a progressive and abnormal hair loss on your scalp or on any other body part covered in hair, talk to your doctor. As we explained, hair loss can often warn us about the presence of another disease that we don’t know of and that requires to be taken care of fast.

Causes

There are five main causes for the loss of over 100 hairs a day (regular amount considered to be part of the growth and shedding cycle).

  • Genetic predisposition: the most common cause is related to family history. The truth is the majority of people diagnosed with alopecia have an inherited condition that provokes baldness. It often appears at age 30 and intensifies progressively. For women, the first symptom is usually the thinning of the hair follicle.
  • Hormonal changes and medical problems: several medical conditions can produce temporary or permanent hair loss. Skin problems, thyroid disorders and hormonal imbalances such as the ones lived during pregnancy and menopause can trigger the appearance of some hair changes that cause an uncontrolled loss.
  • Medication: a fair amount of medications has alopecia as a side effect. Examples include mental health medication, cardiovascular and hypertension drugs and carcinoma treatments.
  • Stress and anxiety: many of those who suffer from extreme stress and/or anxiety develop hair loss and, in most cases, it stops when the problem is solved.
  • Hair damage: bad habits such as washing your hair every day, using hot water or abrasive shampoos can debilitate your hair and make it fall out. Likewise, aggressive hairstyles like extremely tight ponytails or braids, and the use of hair straighteners and chemicals that cause hair follicles to swell could provoke baldness in the long term.

In addition to these main causes, people who experience an extreme weight loss or who are diagnosed with diabetes or other diseases like lupus have a great chance of developing alopecia at some point.

To stop hair loss, a person should seek for a customized solution, being that each type of alopecia requires a different treatment. Nevertheless, all doctors agree that, in order to prevent it, we should avoid washing our hair every day, using tight hairstyles, straightening it or blow-drying it and, if possible, taking medications that lead to hair loss. Instead, we should brush it carefully, protect our scalp from the sun as much as possible and abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol.

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