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There are many genetic and environmental factors that can affect whether or not we lose hair on our head. Hair is strongly influenced by the hormone levels present in the body, particularly the androgen hormones, which is why men lose their head hair much more often than women. This is because males have the hormone dihydrotestosterone which is an androgen hormone that causes miniaturization and loss of hair from the head over time.

This male pattern baldness is commonly seen and affects as many as 50% of men who are over age 50. This condition caused by the dihydrotestosterone is called androgenetic alopecia, and starts with hair loss at the front and sides of the head. Eventually a man with this type of alopecia can become completely bald or have only a band of hair left around the head.

Polycystic ovary syndrome and hair loss

Although hair loss is most commonly thought of as affecting men, it can and does sometimes happen in women. Some women, for instance, have medical conditions that can also cause hair loss. Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), for instance, have too many androgen hormones which have consequences for patterns of hair growth on the head and on the body.

In fact, women who have PCOS tend to lose head hair similarly to men, but in some cases women who have PCOS may grow thick, excess hair elsewhere on the body, including on the face. This is because androgen hormones, such as testosterone, often trigger extra body hair growth in women where there normally would not be as much hair.

For some women the drug spironolactone helps by blocking the androgen receptors on the cells so that the effect is decreased. In other cases, birth control pills can help to regulate the hormone levels.

Autoimmune responses and hair loss

Sometimes the body’s immune system acts against your cells and attacks the hair follicles. This can cause the condition called alopecia areata in which bald spots develop and hair is lost from the head due to an autoimmune response. Usually only a few patches of hair are lost, but in some cases all the hair on the head is lost in which case it is called alopecia totalis.

Interestingly this condition seems to have a genetic component and is most common in people who are quite young, younger than age 30. There is no specific scientific evidence that alopecia areata is directly caused by stress. In alopecia areata, so called exclamation mark hairs sometimes grow which are hairs that have the shape of an exclamation mark.

Besides this, sometimes white hair grows in around the bald spots that have developed. More research is needed on the exact causes of autoimmune hair loss since it can be a devastating condition, particularly for young women.

Thyroid gland problems and hair loss

Other medical conditions can cause hair loss to occur; for example, problems with the thyroid gland. The thyroid is an endocrine gland that secretes hormones which control the metabolism of the body. It is not unusual for people to develop disorders of the thyroid gland in which they produce too much or too few hormones.

Hyperthyroidism is the condition when too many hormones are being made and released by the thyroid gland. This often leads to hair becoming very brittle and breaking easily. Hair tends to be lost quite evenly over the whole head and not in discrete spots in the way that it occurs in alopecia areata. Hypothyroidism is when too few hormones are being created and secreted by the thyroid gland, and this condition also can lead to a general overall loss of hair from the scalp.

What can be done if hair loss cannot be reversed?

In some cases, hair loss is permanent and bald spots remain. In these situations there are a few choices, such as trying medications but these may not work for everyone. The other concern is that medication can have unpleasant and unwanted side effects. Men may choose to wear hairpieces and women may wear wigs, but these often look unnatural and then there is the worry that the hair will come loose and cause embarrassment to the person.

The only permanent solution is to have a hair transplant procedure such as the FUE. You can visit the Vera Clinic( to find out more about the types of treatments that are available to help with hair loss. The FUE hair transplant is a way to replace missing hair on the head, but it does require you to have enough hair in the donor section of the scalp. This is usually the hair found at the back of the scalp. This hair is carefully extracted as follicular units and then grafted in to the place where hair is needed.
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