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Facts About Hair Loss

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Hair Growth Cycles

People lose 50-100 single hairs daily. However, if you lose 125 hairs daily, have bald spots or if the part in your hair is widening, you have hair loss. It is time to see a dermatologist.

Our hair goes through 3 growth cycles, and they include:

  1. Anagen phase (growth phase) - lasts 2-8 years
  2. Catagen phase (transition phase) - hair follicles shrink, lasting 2-3 weeks
  3. Telogen phase (resting phase) - lasts 2-4 months, then hair falls out

The short hair on our legs, arms, eyebrows and eyelashes fall out after a month, but scalp hair can last 6 years or longer.

Types of Hair Loss

There are 3 types of hair loss, including:

  1. Anagen effluvium that is caused by medications (chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS) that destroy the hair follicle. Hypothyroidism, iron deficiency anemia and malnutrition are other causes.
  2. Telogen effluvium occurs when a large number of hair follicles fall out. This is common following a pregnancy.
  3. Androgenetic alopecia has a female pattern alopecia that is the most common type of hair loss, but it affects men too with a male pattern. Hair loss occurs on the top and on the sides of the head. This is often an inherited trait. Over half of men the age of 50 are affected.

Other causes of hair loss with scarring or inflammation include lupus, erythematous, fungal infection, sarcoidosis and radiation therapy.


Hair Loss Treatment Tips

There are 2 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat male pattern baldness that occurs for men and women, including:

  1. Minoxidil (Rogaine) - an OTC medication in foam or liquid form that is applied to the scalp twice a day prevent hair loss
  2. Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) - a daily pill that is available with a prescription

It may take up to a year to see results of these medications.

Hair transplant surgery involves taking hair follicles that are removed from the scalp and transplanted to bald areas. This can be an expensive procedure.

There are some limited studies about low-level laser therapy (LLLT) that show this therapy to be effective in treating male pattern hair loss. More research is necessary.

A National Institute of Health followed Japanese men who received 4 minutes of scalp massage daily for 24 weeks, which resulted in thicker hair.

Quitting smoking has been found to help reduce hair loss.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and unsaturated fats will help keep your hair in better shape.

The last tip is to drink plenty of water.

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How to Reverse Male Pattern Baldness - Hair Loss in Men

Common Myths

Cleveland Clinic lists several common myths about hair loss, and they include:

“You’re losing hair because you shampoo it too much, or because you’ve colored it or gotten a perm.

Dandruff causes permanent hair loss in women.

Stress causes permanent hair loss in women.

If you shave your head, your hair will grow back twice as thick.

If you stand on your head you’ll increase circulation, stimulating hair growth.

If you brush your hair 100 strokes a day that will make your hair healthier.

Hats and wigs cause hair loss in women.

Hair loss only affects intellectual women.”


Mayo Clinic Minute: Treatment For Hair Loss in Women

Chemotherapy Hair Loss

It is very common to lose your hair with chemotherapy. Some people, especially women, use scalp cooling during their chemotherapy sessions, which may save your hair. Scalp cooling is available to every cancer patient, except those with leukemia or a few other blood-related cancers. Scalp cooling is expensive and not always covered by insurance.

Hair loss can have a negative effect on the mental health of a cancer patient. Chemotherapy treats patients by attacking the fast-growing cancer cells. Hair cells are also fast growing, which is why patients lose their hair. Hair loss may occur from 1 to 4 weeks following the first dose.

The scalp cooling cap works by narrowing the blood vessels in the head. The cap is kept frozen ahead of time. It reduces the amount of chemotherapy medication that reaches the hair follicles, making the hair less likely to fall out. The cap is worn during the chemotherapy treatment and for an hour and a half following the treatment.

There are several cooling caps on the market, and it is possible to rent the Chemo Cold Cap and the Penguin cap. There have been several studies that show the benefits for patients with early stage forms of breast and solid tumor cancer. One study showed that over 50% of women kept most of their hair during chemo treatment.

Final Thoughts

Hair loss is a common problem for people as they age, with certain diseases and for people receiving chemotherapy. There are different types of hair loss, and some treatments are available, which may be effective. A healthy lifestyle is always the best prevention of hair loss.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

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