Causes of Hair Thinning

Hair loss has a major effect on every one in many ways. It dents our physical attractiveness if we experience thinning. When hair loss is noticeable, the person will try and search for the thinning causes in relation to the hair shedding. In the normal hair cycle, hair grows about half an inch per month, though this tends to slow a little as you get older. As hair gets older, it may enter a resting stage in which it remains on your head but doesn't grow.

At the end of this stage, the hair usually fall out. The follicle replaces it in about six months. During this time, your hair is in its resting stage. The result can be that your hair falls out early or isn't replaced. It is the degree of thinning that defines whether loss is a problem that can be addressed. There are many factors that can be attributed to hair loss besides aging, such as pregnancy, poor nutrition, hair pulling disorder, scalp infections, medical conditions, stress, hormonal changes, hereditary loss and prescription medications. There are a number of causes which may contribute to hair loss.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, is the main reason for thinning hair. It causes 95 percent of all loss. Male-pattern baldness happens when large, active hair follicles change to smaller, less active ones under the effect of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. If an individual has androgenetic alopecia the overall levels of testosterone may be normal however the activity of 5 alpha reductase is greater than normal which results in increased amounts of dihydrotestosterone in the follicle.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease with unknown causes that typically affects people who are in otherwise good health. An environmental trigger such as a virus may set it off in people who have a genetic predisposition for the condition. With alopecia areata, your hair will usually grow back, although you may lose and re-grow it several times. White blood cells called T-lymphocytes attack the follicle which causes the hair to stop growing and enter into the telogen (resting) phase, then about 3 months later, when the resting phase is over the will then fall out. Only when T-lymphocytes stop attacking the hair follicle will new hair grow.

Cicatricial Alopecia

Cicatricial or scarring alopecia occurs when a skin condition such as lupus erythematosus or lichen planus causes inflammation that scars the hair follicle, preventing new hair from growing. The condition is permanent.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium occurs when there is an emotional or physical stress that causes the hair roots to prematurely enter a resting state. In this a sudden or stressful event can cause the follicles to prematurely stop growing and enter into a resting phase. This occurs when there is a change in the number of follicles growing hair. If the number of follicles producing hair drops drastically for any reason during the resting, or telogen phase, there is a significant corresponding increase in dormant, telogen stage hair follicles. Accordingly the result is shedding, or effluvium hair loss. This will then appear as diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp, which may not be even all over.

Other Causes

Pulling disorder can cause thinning too and is called as Traction alopecia. If the pulling is stopped before permanent damage to the root occurs, the hair will usually grow back normally. Chemicals used for bleaching, dying, tinting or straightening cause hair to thin if they are used incorrectly. Excessive brushing can also damage the shaft, causing loss. Poor nutrition, eating disorders and diets lacking protein or iron can cause thinning and loss. The important nutrients for healthy hair include calcium, vitamin D, biotin, sulfur, folic acid, essential fatty acids (flaxseed oil, primrose oil, fish oil), inositol, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins, particularly B5 (pantothenic acid), B3 (niacin) and B12 (coblamin). Most of these vitamins and minerals can be found in a multi-vitamin. High protein foods include eggs, seafood, red meat, dairy food, legumes, nuts and seeds. Foods rich in iron include red meat, dates, prunes, dark-green leafy vegetables, tofu, certain whole grains, oat bran, wheat germ and fortified cereals. Certain medicines which are taken to treat depression, high blood pressure, arthritis or gout can also cause thinning. Birth control pills for women and diseases such as lupus, scalp infections and diabetes can cause loss as can chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause and childbirth may cause temporary loss in some women.