Causes of Hair Loss

There are many reasons why you might wear a hairpiece or wig, but most usually it’s because you wish to disguise partial or total hair loss which may be the result of any of the following conditions:

Diffuse Loss of Hair

Hair loss can often occur as a result of hormonal changes in a woman’s body during certain times of her life, for example following childbirth or after the menopause. Similarly oral contraceptives and HRT which affect the body’s hormonal balance can cause hair loss problems.

Alopecia Androgenetic

Often referred to as ‘male-pattern baldness’, this also affects up to 40% of women in their lifetime. In men it usually starts with hair recession above the temples, and leads to just a rim of hair being left at the sides and back of the head.

Alopecia Areata

This is an autoimmune disease which results in hair being lost from some or all areas of the body, most commonly the scalp, where it can result in small bald spots.

Alopecia Totalis

This is a form of alopecia which results in the loss of all scalp hair.

Alopecia Universalis

This is the most severe form of alopecia which results in rapid loss of all body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is usually caused by hairstyles which exert a constant pulling on the roots of the hair, for example, tight buns or ponytails, or hairweaves worn for long periods, resulting in a receding hairline. It can also be caused by long wear of tight-fitting safety helmets, for example those worn for cycling and skiing, where constant rubbing and tugging on sections of the scalp can cause patches of hair loss.

Trichotillomania

This is an impulse disorder where the sufferer has compulsive urges to pull out their hair. It is usually triggered by stress or depression and can often start in childhood.

Telogen Effluvium

This is a scalp disorder characterised by thinning or loss of scalp hair, and can be triggered by many causes including eating disorders, chronic illness, anaemia or childbirth.

Monilethrix

This is a comparatively rare genetic condition which results in short, fragile, broken hair, with each strand of hair appearing to be beaded like a necklace.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatment can often result in alopecia affecting the scalp and other body hair. This is due to the strong chemicals used in chemotherapy damaging the fast growing cells in the hair follicles. Hair loss is not permanent and in all but rare cases it will grow back within 3-6 months. However at first the hair may be very fine and you may also find that it grows back in a slightly different colour or texture.

With some chemotherapy treatments, scalp cooling is used to try and prevent hair loss. More information about this can be found on the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

Radiotherapy

Unlike chemotherapy where hair loss is general, with radiotherapy treatment the hair loss is confined to the area being treated. The speed at which the hair grows back depends on the amount and length of treatment but would usually begin to grow back 3-6 months after treatment. However, the hair may never grow back in the affected area, or it may grow back patchily or finer than it was.

Burns and Accidents

If you lose part of your scalp following an accident, for example a burn, the hair in the damaged area may never grow back, or if it does, may be more patchy and fine than your other hair.

Should you at any time experience unexpected hair loss or thinning, you should always consult your doctor so that you obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your particular problem. The above is only intended as a general guide and should not be used to self-diagnose.