The most common type of hair loss starts in males from about the age of 30. It is known as androgenetic alopecia or ‘male pattern baldness’. It is thought to be hereditary, and dependent on the male hormone, testosterone.
How quickly or slowly baldness develops, and the pattern of hair loss, appear to be genetically determined. Although this type of baldness can also affect women, the pattern of baldness is different in males and females.
Hair loss that is not hereditary may be caused by pregnancy, hormonal or other medicines, severe nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy, auto-immune disorders, an under-active thyroid or scalp trauma, including reactions to hair care products and hair grooming methods.
Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary generalised hair loss that may follow childbirth, illness, operation or severe shock.
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune condition, usually causing discrete patches of hair loss, but may cause total baldness. The hair usually (but not always) re-grows.
Trichotillomania is a condition of compulsive hair picking or pulling that can lead to patches of near complete hair loss.
The human scalp contains about 100,000 follicles. These anchor the hair to the skin and contain the cells that produce new hairs.
Normal hair grows in 3 phases.
In hereditary hair loss, the follicle becomes smaller, the anagen phase is shorter and the telogen hairs are shed faster.
You should seek medical advice for hair loss if:
Last Reviewed: 08 December 2009