By Dr. Nahar Al Baroodi – Consultant Endocrinologist
The hair is a symbol of femininity. It is also part of how others perceive you as a person. This is why hair loss could be a frustrating problem for many men and women.
There are different types of hair loss:
- Patchy hair loss
- Diffuse hair thinning
- Patterned hair thinning
There are also different causes of hair loss. It could be related to a localised skin disease, hormonal imbalances, lack of essential vitamins and minerals, or secondary to other systemic diseases.
The most common cause of hair loss is a condition called ‘androgenetic alopecia’. This condition is also known as ‘male-pattern baldness’ when it happens in men and ‘female-pattern hair loss’ when it happens in women.
Androgenetic alopecia can look different in men and women. Men often develop bald areas on the front and the top of the scalp. Women often have thinning hair on the top of the scalp, but usually do not lose all of the hair there.
Researchers have determined that this form of hair loss is related to hormones called androgens, particularly an androgen called dihydrotestosterone. Androgens are important for normal male sexual development before birth and during puberty. Androgens also have other important functions in both males and females, such as regulating hair growth and sex drive.
Excessive androgen production in females is associated with several hormonal disorders, such as:
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Cushings disease
- Thyroid disorder
Both hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can trigger hair loss. This is because your thyroid plays a role in the development of new strands.
Most of the time, thyroid issues cause diffuse hair loss across your entire scalp, rather than localised hair loss around your hairline, temples or crown.
Luckily, hair loss caused by thyroid issues is usually temporary. After you’ve identified and treated the underlying issue, your hair will slowly re-grow to its previous thickness and length.
Lack of vitamin and minerals
Hair loss can also be caused by a lack of nutrients. When you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t produce the hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of cells in your body, including the cells that stimulate hair growth.
With treatment, you can help reverse both the iron deficiency and the hair loss.
Others vitamins required for hair growth include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Hair loss can be secondary to other medical conditions such as:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Addison’s disease
- Celiac disease
Should I see a doctor?
See your doctor or if you are bothered by your hair loss, or if:
- You are not sure why you are losing your hair
- Your hair loss occurs suddenly
- You have irregular periods
- You also don’t feel well or feel very tired