By Maren Stratte and Elizabeth G Stratte, MD
Is regrowth possible? Luckily when your body gets enough of the missing nutrients, hair can regrow.

Hair loss has many causes. What’s causing your hair loss can determine whether your hair falls out gradually or abruptly thins, if it can regrow on its own or requires treatment. Sometimes one may need immediate care to prevent permanent hair loss. The many causes of hair loss include:

Hereditary hair loss
Both men and women develop this type of hair loss, which is the most common cause of hair loss worldwide. In men, it’s called male pattern hair loss. Women get female pattern hair loss.
No matter which term you use, it means that you’ve inherited genes that cause your hair follicles (what each hair grows out of) to shrink and eventually stop growing hair. Shrinking can begin as early as your teens, but it usually starts later in life.

In women, the first noticeable sign of hereditary hair loss is usually overall thinning or a widening part.  When a man has hereditary hair loss, the first sign is often a receding hairline or bald spot at the top of his head. Is regrowth possible? Yes, treatment can help stop or slow hair loss. It may also help regrow hair. The earlier treatment is started, the better it works. Without treatment, you will continue to lose hair.

With age, most people notice some hair loss because hair growth slows. At some point, hair follicles stop growing hair, which causes the hair on our scalp to thin. Hair also starts to lose its color. A woman’s hairline naturally starts to recede. Is regrowth possible?  If caught early, treatment helps regrow their hair.

Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is a disease that develops when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles causing hair loss. You can lose hair anywhere on your body, including your scalp. Some people lose their eyelashes or eyebrows. Is regrowth possible? Yes. If your hair fails to grow back on its own, treatment may help stimulate regrowth.

Cancer treatment
If you receive chemotherapy or have radiation treatment to your head or neck, you may lose all (or most of) your hair within a few weeks of starting treatment. Hair usually starts to regrow within months of finishing chemotherapy or radiation treatments to the head or neck. Dermatologists can offer medication to help hair grow back more quickly. And wearing a cooling cap before, during, and after each chemotherapy session may help prevent hair loss.

Childbirth, illness, or other stressors (pandemic!)
A few months after giving birth, recovering from an illness, or having an operation, you may notice a lot more hairs in your brush or on your pillow. This can also happen after a stressful time in your life, such as a divorce or death of a loved one. Or the stresses of enduring a pandemic. If the stress stops, your body will readjust and the excessive shedding will stop. When the shedding stops, most people see their hair regain its normal fullness within 6 to 9 months.

Hair care
If you color, perm, or relax your hair, you could be damaging your hair. And if you often wear your hair tightly pulled back, the continual pulling can lead to permanent hair loss. Is regrowth possible? Not necessarily, but you can prevent further hair loss by making some changes.

Hormonal imbalance
A common cause of this imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It leads to cysts on a woman’s ovaries, along with other signs and symptoms, which can include hair loss. Stopping some types of birth control pills can cause a temporary hormonal imbalance. Women who develop a hormonal imbalance can develop thinning hair (or hair loss) on their scalp. Hair growth is possible with stabilization of the hormones.

A possible side effect of some medications is hair loss. If you think a medication is causing your hair loss, ask the doctor who prescribed it if hair loss is a possible side effect. It’s essential that you do not stop taking the medication before talking with your doctor. Abruptly stopping some medications can cause serious health problems.

Scalp psoriasis
Many people develop psoriasis on their scalp. This can lead to hair loss. Luckily hair tends to regrow once the scalp psoriasis clears, but this takes time. By following your dermatologist’s suggestions you may be able to prevent hair loss.

Pulling your hair (Trichotillomania)
Some people pull on their hair, often to relieve stress. They may be unaware that they’re pulling their hair. If you haven’t destroyed the hair follicles before you learn to stop pulling it, the hair can return to normal.  

Thyroid disease
If you have a problem with your thyroid, you may see thinning hair. Some people notice that their hair comes out in clumps when they brush it. Is regrowth possible? Yes, treating the thyroid disease can reverse the hair loss.

Too little biotin, iron, protein, or zinc
If you’re not getting enough of one or more of these, you can have noticeable hair loss.

Is regrowth possible? Luckily when your body gets enough of the missing nutrients, hair can regrow.

While many causes of hair loss can be treated successfully, the key to effective treatment is to find out what’s causing the hair loss. For the best results, see your dermatologist to diagnose and treat your hair loss as soon as you notice the problem.
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