Healthy hair is associated with youth, good health and influences how you feel about yourself. Hair loss can affect people’s emotions as well as in their physical appearance. At Alaxis Medical Clinic, we understand how detrimental hair loss can be to one’s confidence. Before beginning the journey of regaining this self-confidence, one of the most important things you need to determine is what contributes to hair loss and what steps can be taken to help stop the progression of hair loss.
We are here for you.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss has many causes. Identifying the cause of hair loss can determine whether your hair:
- Falls out gradually or abruptly
- Can regrow on its own
- Requires treatment to regrow
- Needs immediate care to prevent permanent hair loss
Common causes of hair loss include:
- A family history of hair loss on your mother’s or father’s side. In most cases, hair loss is inherited.
- Stress, including physical stress from surgery or illness.
- Damage to the hair from pulling it back too tightly, wearing tight braids or ponytails, or using curling irons and dyes.
- Age. Hair gets thinner and tends to break more easily with age.
- Poor nutrition, especially not getting enough protein or iron.
- Thyroid diseases, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Other causes of hair loss include:
- medicines such as cancer treatments
- infections such as tinea
- skin diseases such as psoriasis
- pulling out of one’s hair which may be due to a mental health condition
Hair loss, is a disorder caused by an interruption in the body’s cycle of hair production. Hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the scalp. On average, the scalp has 100,000 hairs that cycle through periods of growing, resting, falling out, and regenerating.
If this cycle is disrupted, or if a hair follicle is damaged, hair may begin to fall out more quickly than it is regenerated, leading to symptoms such as a receding hairline, hair falling out in patches, or overall thinning.
Hair loss can be broadly classified into nonscarring or scarring alopecia.
Male pattern and female pattern hair loss, are nonscarring alopecia, the most common form of hair loss affecting men and women respectively.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is the most common cause of gradual hair loss, resulting in balding. A large proportion of men will develop significant hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is an androgen-induced pattern of hair loss. The pattern of hair loss in androgenetic alopecia is genetically determined. Although it not a disease, the psychosocial impact of hair loss may affect a person’s quality of life.
Causes of male pattern hair loss
Male pattern hair loss is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. A hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes a change in the hair follicles on the scalp. The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
What does male pattern hair loss look like?
The usual pattern of hair loss is a receding frontal hairline and loss of hair from the top of the head. Hairs in the affected areas are initially smaller in diameter, and shorter compared to hairs in unaffected areas, before they become absent.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Female pattern hair loss has also been called androgenetic alopecia. It is the most common type of alopecia (hair loss) in women and the severity can vary.
Causes of female pattern hair loss
Female pattern hair loss is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
Female pattern hair loss can be associated with conditions in which androgen (a group of hormones) levels are elevated such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Acne, increased facial hair, irregular periods and infertility are all signs of PCOS.
What does female pattern hair loss look like?
Patterned hair loss looks different in males and females. In females, there is widely spread thinning of the hair, mainly on the crown of the scalp. The hairline at the front of the scalp often remains normal. Hairs in the affected areas are initially thinner (smaller in diameter), and shorter compared to hairs in unaffected areas, before they become absent.
Type of hair loss include:
Androgenetic alopecia is commonly known as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss. It usually runs in families and is caused by the effects of androgens (male hormones) on the hair follicles.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles (what holds the hair in place), causing hair loss.
Telogen effluvium is where a shock to the body stops hair growing temporarily. This can continue for a few months, and during this time more of the old hairs fall out than usual. Because it takes time before new hairs grow, this causes temporary hair loss.
Triggers that can cause this include:
- surgery or trauma
- sudden weight loss
- health conditions such as hyperthyroidism or lupus
- starting or stopping some medication
Treatment options for Male Pattern and Female Pattern Hair Loss
Treatment is tailored to each patient and his or her type of hair loss. The goal of individualised treatment is to stop further hair loss and promote follicular recovery/regrowth in viable follicles.
Hair loss is diagnosed through a medical history and physical examination which includes close examination of the scalp and hair to determine the cause of hair loss. Occasionally, additional blood tests is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
To determine the cause of hair loss, your doctor may ask a variety of questions about when hair loss began, what the patterns of hair loss are, what kind of hairstyles you usually wear, whether hair loss runs in your family, medical conditions you have and other details about your symptoms.
Details that may seem unrelated—whether you recently gave birth, may provide a clue about the cause of the hair loss.
If the reason for your hair loss is not clear, your doctor may do tests to check for a disease that may be causing your hair loss. Tests include blood tests for a specific condition, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism).
Before and After Photos
In compliance with MOH guidelines in Singapore, we are not allowed to post before-and-after images on our website and social media platforms. However, we are more than willing to share such images for your perusal during your in-clinic consultation with us.