Common Hair Loss Symptoms And How to Treat Them

posted on:
December 14th, 2021
posted by:
Dr. Mulholland

Hair loss is an incredibly widespread condition. It is estimated that over 147 million people suffer from alopecia (hair loss) worldwide. Over half of both men and women will experience a form of pattern baldness at some point in their lives. The condition is more widespread among men, with an astounding 85% of whom experience hair loss by 50. This is a big reason why seeking a hair transplant in Toronto is so popular among men.

Hair loss (alopecia) doesn’t appear the same for everyone and finds itself occurring in a number of different ways. It can come suddenly, gradually, and be either temporary or permanent. Alopecia can even affect other areas of the body. However, balding generally refers to when excessive hair loss occurs on the head.

Signs and Symptoms of Hair Loss

There are many signs and symptoms of hair loss. This can include any of the following:

Gradual Thinning

Gradual hair loss is the most widely common hair loss symptom. The human head usually sheds around 50-100 hair follicles a day, which may sound like a lot, but considering there are hundreds of thousands of hairs on your head, this hair loss is generally not noticed and is gradually replaced with more growth as the follicles renew themselves. However, thinning can become a noticeable hair loss symptom when the hair follicles cease their renewal process, typically due to the natural aging process.

Hair follicles require the supply of nutrients from the body like iron, protein, biotin and Zinc. When we age, the signals that tell your brain to deliver these nutrients to the hair can stop, resulting in the follicles on the head dying off and falling out.

For men, thinning often begins at the hairline along the forehead, while women typically notice that the part in their hair broadens wider over time. The reason that natural thinning hair is a gradual process versus all the hair on the head falling out at once is that each of those 100,000 hairs on your head has its lifespan that receives its own supplies of nutrients.

Hair thinning doesn’t just start when you’re older, either. While we previously mentioned that roughly 85% of men experience a form of hair loss by the age of 50, roughly 25% of men will begin to notice male pattern baldness before the young age of 21.

Circular Patches and Bald Spots

Bald spots, also known as Alopecia Areata, are a hair loss symptom that occurs when hair falls out in clusters, leading to circular patches of missing hair. Like gradual thinning, bald spots may not be particularly noticeable at first when hidden amongst the rest of your hair. However, as the balding spot increases or another patch begins to form and connects with the initial patch, the signs may become more visible.

Moreover, bald patches can form on the scalp and within the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other places on the body. Usually, this condition is the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the follicles of the hair, usually as a result of illness or acute stress (more on this later).

Depending on the cause behind the hair loss, as well as the extent of it, this hair loss symptom can be either temporary or permanent.

Sudden Hair Loss and Excess Shedding

While the human head loses 50-100 follicles a day, certain conditions may result in accelerated shedding levels. The scalp can lose several hundred follicles in a day, surpassing the renewal rate of growth and resulting in thinned-out hair. This symptom of hair loss is usually identifiable by its noticeability in your daily routine. The person might find large quantities of hair coming out in the shower when brushing their hair on their pillow in the morning.

There are several reasons for this symptom of hair loss, the biggest of which is usually high levels of acute or ongoing stress. The fortunate thing is that this type of hair loss is only temporary in many cases, though it may lead to overall thinning.

Full Body Hair Loss

Full-body hair loss, also known as Alopecia Universalis, is a type of hair loss that, as the name implies, causes hair to fall out all over the body at once. Similar to bald patches, this is usually a result of the white blood cells in your body attacking the hair follicles, mistaking them for foreign invaders. The cause for this hair loss symptom is not yet fully understood, though it has been linked to conditions such as thyroid, vitiligo, or high stress.

This can also be the result of medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Like Alopecia Areata, this hair loss is usually temporary.

Scaling Patches

Tinea capitis, also known as ringworm of the scalp, is a type of fungal infection that can occur on the scalp. There are several signs of this condition: itchiness, scaly patches, irritation and bleeding, and hair loss symptoms.

Ringworm is a very contagious infection transferred by touch and is common among toddlers and children. It can be transferred from human to human, animal to human, and even from objects to human contact.

Treating ringworm usually requires oral medication to kill off the fungal infection and medicated shampoos to help reduce the spread amongst the scalps. Usually, the hair loss from this condition is temporary; however, if there are patches of severe inflammation, the area may result in scarring, and; thus, permanent hair loss.

Additional Causes of Hair Loss

Now that we’ve talked more in-depth about some of the types of hair loss, we can look more in-depth into some of the causes behind these symptoms of hair loss.

We’ve already discussed age as a primary reason behind standard alopecia, as well as medical reasons like ringworm or chemotherapy. Here are some of the other reasons hair may begin to thin or fall out.

Stress

We touched briefly earlier that stress can be a leading cause of hair loss symptoms like excessive shedding or acute patches of baldness.

This is because extreme or prolonged stress levels can force the hair follicles to switch from the anagen phase to the telogen phase. The anagen phase is the period in a hair follicle’s lifecycle where it grows longer until it stops and shifts to the telogen phase, where growth halts and sheds.

The abrupt stress-caused shift to the telogen phase makes the hair fall out prematurely, leading to noticeable hair loss. If you’re having a singularly bad day at work, don’t worry. Stress levels usually need to be very high and prolonged for hair loss symptoms to occur. Some examples of this would be when a person loses a loved one and is grieving for an extended period or when high stress at work is daily. The times of the pandemic also definitely account for an extended timeframe of emotional duress and have contributed to many losing their hair.

One sneaky thing with stress-related hair loss is that it is usually a delayed reaction. It can take three months before hair loss related to stress begins to show, making the condition seemingly happen out of nowhere. The good news is, if the stress has been subsidized, this hair loss is usually temporary.

Intensive Hair Care

While proper hair care is important for keeping the scalp and follicles clean and healthy, excessive hair care can result in the follicles becoming overprocessed and susceptible to brittleness and breakage, as well as excessive shedding and hair loss. This is oftentimes a leading cause of hair loss among women.

Some examples of intensive hair care include:

  • Bleaching the hair and other dyes
  • Excessive heat from hair dryers, curlers, straighteners, etc.
  • Perm treatments
  • Relaxing treatments
  • Extreme hold hair spray
  • Excessive hold products such as gel
  • More intense shampoos applied too regularly

Hair that has been overprocessed can be identified by a feeling of extremely dry, almost straw-like texture. Flyaways and cowlicks are often prominent in this type of damaged hair, and usual hairstyles may become more difficult to maintain.

In cases of either consistent bleaching or a particularly intense bleaching session, the scalp may receive a chemical burn, which can result in the hair follicles falling out in acute areas where the burns exist.

Covid and Other Illness

While we mentioned that the stresses resulting from the pandemic have contributed to hair loss, the virus itself has been attributed to hair loss. Many people have reported that months after contracting covid, noticeable hair loss in clumps (Alopecia Areata) began to occur. It is not yet fully understood why this happens, though we know it’s a result of the white blood cells mistakenly attacking the follicles instead of the invading virus. This type of hair loss has also been linked to those who experience high fevers. Thankfully, this type of hair loss is normally temporary.

Genetics

Your genetics make up much of the physical aspects of your body, from your eye colour, skin tone, as well as your hair. With hair, your genetics play into the colour, texture, and lifespan of the hair. Unfortunately, this also means that families with a history of balding and thinning hair are very suspectable to pass on that trait to the next generation.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Many women report that following the birth of a child, they experience hair loss symptoms, reporting excess shedding on noticeable levels. Usually, this is due to hormonal changes in the body.

During pregnancy, hormones in the body change, causing stimulation in hair growth, allowing the hair to become thicker, more vibrant, and strong. In the months that follow childbirth, the hormone levels return to normal. When these hormones revert, the hair does as well, causing it to shed to its pre-pregnancy state. This can give the appearance that the person’s hair is falling out, but in most cases, this is just a transition period that only lasts until the hair reaches its former thickness.

 

Hair Transplants at Toronto Plastic Surgeons

There are several hair products out there to help treat thinning and balding hair, from shampoos to vitamins to growth products like Rogaine. However, when it comes to FUE hair transplants versus other solutions, the key difference between them is lasting results.

Products like Rogaine may prove effective while you’re using them. However, the results may not even be seen for six months after beginning usage, which can be an expensive time to wait for results considering once you stop using the product, the results revert themselves. Receiving FUE hair transplants at Toronto Plastic Surgeons provides highly successful and long-term (often permanent) results.

FUE Hair Transplant 

Hair transplant technology has come a long way. Gone are the days of the patchy and pluggy looking transplants that can leave a person looking like they have “doll hair.” An FUE hair transplant utilizes an advanced transplant system known as the ARTAS. This technology uses a robotic rotary system to individually extract healthy hair follicles from a donor area (usually a discreet location such as the back of the scalp and neck). It transplants them to the designated thinning and balding area.

This method is faster, safer, and less painful than traditional hair transplant methods, which usually require skin grafts to be removed for hair transplantation. As the FUE method does not require this, scarring and post-surgical pain are usually far more minimal. This method is used for both a female hair transplant and a male hair transplant.

After your FUE hair transplant procedure, you will be recommended a comprehensive post-transplant care program consisting of nutrient serums, light therapy, and medical shampoo to help promote hair growth (see: how to wash your hair after hair transplant surgery). It is important to know that after a few weeks, the initial growth from the procedure will fall out, but rest assured that this is part of the process and that the new and permanent growth will begin its cycle following this. Full results can be expected within the year of surgery.

Let Us Help

Our clinic specializes in restoring the hair of both men and women. If you’re feeling insecure about your hair loss, give us a call today at 647-723-3739, or book a consultation with us online.

Posted by:

Dr. Stephen Mulholland, Md

Dr. Stephen Mulholland has been practicing plastic surgery for over 20 years. He is one of Canada’s most renowned and best plastic surgeons in Toronto with his wealth of experience, artistry, and humbleness towards his patients.

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