How to tell if your hair loss is normal
We’d all love to have a thick head of luscious locks, so if you’re tresses are starting to thin, your confidence could take a knock. The fact is, many people experience some degree of hair loss during their lifetimes. Often, this is just a natural part of the ageing process. But how can you tell if your thinning locks are normal or the result of a medical problem? If you’re not sure what’s causing your hair to fall out, keep reading.
Is your hair thinning gradually as you age?
If you’ve noticed a gradual thinning or receding of your hair over a number of years, you might well have female or male-pattern baldness. These are the most common types of hair loss and they affect millions of people across the UK. In men, this condition is hereditary and it can be passed down from either the mother or father’s side of the family. It’s usually characterised by a receding hairline and a loss of hair on top of the head. In contrast, women tend to experience a general thinning out across their scalps. The cause of this condition is less well understood, but it is more prevalent among postmenopausal women.
There’s no cure for female or male-pattern baldness, but there are effective treatments available. Both men and women can use the lotion minoxidil on their scalps. Applied daily, this can slow, stop or in some cases even reverse the hair loss process. Meanwhile, men also have the option of taking finasteride tablets, which are better known under the brand name Propecia. You can buy finasteride and minoxidil online or in high-street pharmacies. Bear in mind that unlike minoxidil, finasteride is only available on prescription.
Have you recently been through a physical or emotional trauma?
Not all cases of hair loss are a natural part of getting older. If you recently experienced a physical or emotional trauma and your tresses started to thin after this, you might have a condition called telogen effluvium. This causes a widespread thinning of locks and it can be triggered by short or long-term illnesses, hormonal changes (for example during pregnancy), intense physical stress, crash dieting, major psychological stress and certain medications. The good news is, in cases of telogen effluvium, hair loss usually stops within around six months and the process then reverses.
Do you have patches of baldness?
Another tell-tale sign that your hair loss isn’t normal is the fact that it’s happening in distinct patches across your scalp, and potentially elsewhere on your body. If you have small bald spots that are about the diameter of a large coin, the chances are you have alopecia areata. This is an immune system disorder and it’s more common in younger people. This condition is usually treated with a course of steroid injections, although steroid ointments or gels can also be used. If you suspect that you have alopecia areata, make an appointment with your GP.
While most cases of hair loss are a natural part of getting older, this problem sometimes has other triggers. So, if you’re in any doubt about the cause of your thinning locks, don’t hesitate in getting checked out by a medical professional.