Hair loss is inevitable with age. In today’s life, loosing hair and going bald in some people (especially men) starts at a younger age for various reasons, including changes in lifestyle, diets and stress. It’s frightening to go bald at a young age; But more frightening than going bald at a young age, is sudden hair loss! In this article, we will examine the causes of sudden hair loss.
In general, a normal person will loose up to 100 hairs a day. This fall of hair is more likely to occur during combing, bathing or sleeping. In a young person, at the same time as your hair falls, hair follicles are active and replace new hair. In fact, there is a natural balance between hair loss and hair growth. Therefore, you won’t commonly see baldness in young people.
With aging, for physiological and genetic reasons, the balance between fall and growth is disturbed; and many people suffer from mild to severe baldness. Most baldness patterns are male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. In the form of baldness, it is also called genetic hair loss. So in general we all loose hair; however, shed hair is replaced. When the balance between hair fall and hair growth is impaired, we say that the person suffers from hair loss.
Hair loss disease is generally more common in men than women. However, it is also very common in women. It is estimated that about 37% of women under the age of 50 suffer from hair loss.
Note that in addition to affecting the beauty aspects, hair loss also affects the psychological aspects. Because a person with this problem may avoid attending many professional, educational, recreational and social occasions due to the discomfort and embarrassment of their hair. This avoidance will continue until the problem solves, which may even take months. This will gradually lower your self-esteem and lead to psychological problems.
In many cases, the main cause of loosing hair is androgenic alopecia (baldness). Androgenetic alopecia usually occurs gradually; But it can also be a cause of sudden hair loss. Genetic and hormonal factors play an important role in this type of baldness:
As mentioned, new hairs will grow form the hair follicles. This requires a variety of ingredients, the lack of which can cause sudden hair loss. We usually see in these people that with a little stretching, the strands of hair fall out of the head.
The hair strands are from protein. For this reason, a lack of protein in the diet can cause loosing hair. Sources of protein in the diet include a variety of meats (fish, chicken and red meat), eggs and dairy.
To make hair strands, the body needs various vitamins, which are the B vitamins, especially niacin and biotin. Most vitamins, supplements, and hair-strengthening shampoos contain these vitamins.
The presence of some minerals is also essential in the process of making hair strands. In addition to causing anemia, iron deficiency can cause sudden hair loss. Calcium and magnesium, which are abundant in dairy products, are present in hair fiber-forming reactions and are important. Zinc is another material body needs to make hair strands.
Deficiency of any of these elements can cause hair loss disease. Improper diet hair loss usually resolves on it’s own by eliminating the body’s deficiencies and does not require any other therapeutic interventions.
In order to better understand the side effects of telogen effluvium, we must first review the stages of hair growth. The life cycle of hair strands has three stages:
In telogen effluvium disease, for the following reasons, hair strands go through the anagen and catagen stages faster, and as a result, a higher percentage of hair falls into the telogen stage. As a result, the rate of hair fall increases. For example, instead of 100 hairs, a person loses 400 hairs a day. Telogen effluvium is one of the main causes of sudden hair loss.
Telogen effluvium can occur for a variety of reasons. All of these reasons have a common ground; It is the entry of severe stress into the body. This stress can be due to mental issues, physical illnesses, sudden changes and injuries.
It is important to note that exposure to severe stress does not cause immediate hair loss. Severe stress reduces the production of new hair follicles by suppressing the activity of hair-forming cells. It also speeds up the passage of the growth stage or anagen. We know that hair loss occurs when the catagen and telogen phases are over; In total, it takes 3-4 months. Thus, about 3 months after a severe stress, hair will suddenly starts to fall. The examples are:
Telogen effluvium usually resolves on it’s own after the stress has resolved and does not require medication or other therapeutic interventions.
Various medications can be a cause of hair loss. The list of drugs that can cause this problem is very long. If you have just started taking medication and you’re loosing a lot of hair since then, talk to your specialist.
In many cases, you can use another alternative medicine. Hair loss due to a drug complication usually resolves within a few months of stopping the drug and the hair will return to normal.
The most popular medications that cause this disease include the following:
Perhaps the most well-known drugs that cause baldness and loosing hair severely are chemotherapy drugs. These drugs inhibit cell division to prevent cancer cells from growing. Of course, not all cells divide, they only inhibit the division of cells that have a high rate of proliferation. In addition to cancer cells, hair follicle cells also divide rapidly. Therefore, one of the side effects of these drugs is to prevent cell division in hair follicles. As you know, hair follicles are the place where new hair follicles are made; and if cell division is inhibited, no new hair follicles are made.
As mentioned, changes in sex hormone levels can cause sudden hair loss. Contraceptives also alter the balance between sex hormones. Therefore, hair loss may occur while taking these medications.
Hair loss after childbirth or breastfeeding is one of the most common complaints of mothers and one of the reasons for sudden hair loss. During pregnancy, the levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone in the mother’s body are high, and after childbirth, the level of these hormones decreases dramatically. This change causes the hair follicles that make up the hair follicles to enter the resting phase. For this reason, after each hair loss, there will be no replacement hair for it, and the mother’s hair will be thinner after childbirth. The important thing is that the mother should not worry at all! Because over time, and usually during the first year after delivery, the condition of the mother’s hair will be better than before pregnancy.
Various diseases can cause sudden hair loss; some of which are discussed below:
Some infections can cause sudden hair loss. The most common of these are fungal infections, which are more common in children, adolescents, and people with weakened immune systems. The prevalence of fungal infections is low in healthy adults.
Tinea capitis is a fungal disease that a group of fungi called dermatophytes cause them. Warm and humid environments are conducive to the growth of these fungi; For this reason, scalp and hair are a good habitat for them.
The most prominent symptom of this disease is sudden hair loss, which can also be painful. The disease is easily transmitted from person to person. The use of contaminated hats, towels and combs is a means of transmitting the disease.
Treatment of this fungal infection is with antifungal drugs such as griseofulvin, terbinafine or fluconazole for 4 to 6 weeks. Hair loss is usually reversible with treatment. Other infections that can cause sudden hair loss include folliculitis. In this disease, inflammation occurs in the hair follicles. Therefore, after hair loss, replacement hair will not grow and that area will become bald.
Sudden hair loss can be a sign of an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism will also have other symptoms such as weakness and fatigue, obesity and puffiness of the face, slowing of movements and reflexes, and dry skin. If your doctor suspects that you have the disease, a blood test may help.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, also called picosis (PCOS), is a condition that occurs only in women and upsets the balance of their sex hormones. As mentioned earlier, sex hormone imbalances can cause sudden or gradual hair loss. Of course, polycystic ovary syndrome causes hair growth in different parts of the body more than it causes hair loss.
Lupus is most commonly characterized by red, butterfly-shaped skin lesions on the nose and cheeks. It is an autoimmune disease in which the wrong immune system attacks the body’s cells and damages them. In lupus, the scalp may also be involved and areas in the form of coins may experience sudden hair loss. Lupus is more common in women than men. Hair loss due to this disease can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the disease and its type.
Alopecia areata, like lupus, is an autoimmune disease. In lupus, the whole body is involved, and in alopecia areata, the immune cells attack only the hair follicles. Alopecia areata usually causes sudden hair loss with definite borders and in the form of small circular areas. Of course, it can cause baldness on the whole head or even the whole body hair. These conditions are called alopecia areata and universal disease. Sudden hair loss due to alopecia areata usually resolves on its own. In more severe cases, you can treat the disease with a topical injection of corticosteroids by a dermatologist.