How much hair loss is common?
Everyone loses some hair
every day. Losing up to 100 hairs a day is normal.
But if hair
loss runs in your family, you could lose a lot more hair. With this kind of hair loss, you may
end up with bald spots if you are a man. If you are a woman, you may find that the hair on the top of your head is slowly thinning. About half of all
people have this type of hair loss by around age 50.
Although hair loss is fairly common, it can be a tough
thing to live with, especially when it changes how you look. But there are ways
you can treat your hair loss.
What causes hair loss?
Common causes of hair loss
- Family history. In most cases, hair loss is
inherited, which means it's passed down from one or both of your parents. This
is called male-pattern or female-pattern hair loss.
including physical stress from surgery, illness, or high
- Chemotherapy, which is powerful
medicine that destroys cancer cells.
- Damage to your hair from
pulling it back too tightly, wearing tight braids or ponytails, or using
curling irons or dyes.
- Age. You grow less hair as you get
older. Hair also gets thinner and tends to break more easily as you age.
- Poor diet, especially not getting enough protein or
- Thyroid diseases, such as
- Ringworm of the scalp, which is common in
What are the symptoms?
Your symptoms will depend
on what kind of hair loss you have.
If your hair is thinning, it
happens slowly over time, so you may not notice the hairs falling out. If your
hair is shedding, then clumps of hair fall out. You may lose hair all over your
scalp, which is called general hair loss. Or you may lose hair only in one
area, which is called focal hair loss.
With inherited hair loss ,
men usually get bald spots around the forehead or on the top of the head, while
women have some thinning all over the scalp, but mostly on the top of the head.
Since your hair has a lot to do with your
appearance, losing it may cause you to have lower self-esteem if you don't like
how you look. This is especially true in women and teens.
How is hair loss diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask
you some questions, like how much hair you're losing, when it started, and
whether your parents have hair loss. He or she will look closely at your scalp
and hair loss pattern and may gently pull out a few hairs for tests.
If it's not clear what's causing you to lose your hair, your doctor may
do a blood test or look at a sample of your hair or scalp with a
How is it treated?
How you choose to treat your
hair loss depends on the cause. It also depends on your feelings. You may
decide that you need treatment, or you may not be worried about thinning hair
or baldness. The choice is up to you.
If hair loss is caused by something that won't last or can be treated, your hair is likely to grow back. For example, if an underactive thyroid is causing the problem, taking thyroid medicine may help. And most hair lost during chemotherapy will grow back after the treatment ends.
Hair loss that runs in the
family can be treated with medicines or hair
transplant surgery. Some people choose to wear hairpieces, like wigs or toupees (say
"too-PAYZ"). Finding different ways of styling your hair, like dyeing or
combing, also can help.
If hair loss is caused by something you can control,
like stress or medicines, you can treat it by getting rid of the cause.
When you are deciding about treatment, think about these
- Which treatment is most likely to work?
long will it take?
- Will it last?
- What are the side
effects and other risks?
- How much will it cost, and will insurance
Will your hair grow back?
When your hair loss is
inherited, your hair won't grow back naturally. Treatment can help some hair
grow back and prevent more from falling out, but you probably won't get all
your hair back. And treatment doesn't work for everyone.
medicines, stress, or hair damage cause you to lose your hair, it often will
grow back after you take away the cause. If this doesn't help, you may need
If you're unhappy with how hair loss makes you
look, treatment may help you feel better. It's natural to want to like the
way you look.
Frequently Asked Questions