why does hair fall out in clumps
First, let s debunk a few myths: Shampooing, brushing and towel drying your hair aren t making it fall out. People associate these things with hair loss because they see the hair come away. But these aren t the cause, says Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist with the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, Piliang says shampooing less frequently may make things worse. It can lead to dandruff and scalp inflammation, which can exacerbate hair loss, she says. Hats and ponytails also get a bum rap. If a ponytail is worn so tightly it pulls on your eyes, that could damage your hair and lead to breakage, Piliang acknowledges, adding that tight braiding, extensions and weaves which yank on small groups of hair follicles can also cause problems. But generally wearing a ponytail or a hat won t cause hair loss, she says. Men and women lose their hair for different and interrelated reasons, ranging from genetic factors to a poor diet, says Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at the Montefiore-Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. It s rare for hair loss to be caused by just one thing, he says. To understand these causes, it s helpful to know how your hair works. Similar to the way your skin s cells turn over, your hair is constantly sprouting, growing and falling out. Guys with healthy hair shed between 60 to 80 follicles a day, while women lose roughly 100, Friedman says. When it comes to male- and female-pattern baldness the most common types of hair loss certain hairs grow in shorter and shorter over time, and eventually stop growing back at all. This is usually the result of a genetic sensitivity to hormones in the skin, Friedman says. In men, you see this most in the front and sides of the scalp, he explains. In women, it s more centrally located and diffuse. Friedman says this is a slow process, one that can take years to become apparent. For these people, drugs that block the production of skin hormones or keep hairs from falling out such as minoxidil and finasteride tend to work well, Friedman says. But both are better at stopping hair loss than they are at regrowing hair. If you re bald and want treatment, there s often not much you can do, he says. For this reason, it s imperative that you see a doctor as soon as you notice a problem. Poor nutrition is another potential contributing factor.
Friedman says low levels of iron, vitamin D, some B vitamins and zinc have all been linked to hair loss. While typically not the main cause of your thinning mane, nutrient or vitamin deficiencies can make the problem worse, he says. Fixing your diet or taking supplements can help, but it s often just one part of a multifaceted solution. If clumps come out when you shower or you notice thinning in just a few weeks or months, you re more likely dealing with another common condition called
acute telogen effluvium, Piliang says. This rapid hair loss is basically a short-term ramping up of your hair s normal shedding process. Any event that puts a lot of stress on your body like childbirth, surgery or rapid weight loss can result in this alarming, clumpy hair loss, which tends to start a couple months after the event, Piliang says. The shedding can last for six months and may result in your losing up to 70% of your hair. But typically the hair grows back, she explains. There are many more explanations for hair loss, including scalp infections, inflammatory diseases like alopecia areata, or systemic diseases like lupus. Treatments vary widely and may include a combination of oral or topical drugs, light therapy, dietary changes, and stress-reducing interventions. You really need an expert s help to assemble all the puzzle pieces, says Dr. Laurel Schwartz, a dermatologist in private practice at the Philadelphia Institute of Dermatology. If you re experiencing skin irritation, redness, scaling or pain, Schwartz recommends seeing someone ASAP to head off risks like permanent hair loss and scarring. More good advice: Stay away from miracle cures marketed online or in late-night TV infomercials. They re not the answer. Hair loss is such an emotionally charged experience, Schwartz says. And when you re really upset, you re willing to try anything. Time spent experimenting with different over-the-counter or infomercial products is often time (and money) wasted. Your hair can offer a glimpse of what s going on in the rest of the body, Schwartz says. If you notice a problem, discuss it with a doctor to determine the ultimate cause. If youвre an aging adult, you've probably come to terms with and have started to accept that youвre slowly losing your hair. On the other hand, what if you are a teenage girl, losing her precious hair at the prime of her life?
Hair loss in teenage girls can cause emotional trauma at a critical time in their lives. However, this hair loss can happen for several reasons, and you can often treat and prevent it successfully. 1. Hormones As young girls turn into growing teenagers, they go through many bodily changes, including changes in their hormones. These hormones then fluctuate their emotions, eating habits, and their hair growth. Because the root cause of hair loss lies in one special hormone, present in both men and women, you can understand how hormonal changes and imbalances create such a problem. The hormone responsible for hair loss in anyone is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This hormone usually manifests in men; however, women and girls have low levels of testosterone as well. Unfortunately, with the help of an enzyme that rests in the hairвs oil glands, testosterone changes to DHT. Then, DHT literally shrinks the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. Teenage girls may experience this hair loss until the hormones balance out in their bodies. 2. Medicine Certain medications can cause hair loss in both teens and adults, especially ones which alter the hormones. In particular, some teenage girls may take birth control pills to relieve PCOS or control acne. However, the pill is also known for thinning out the hair. In fact, some doctors actually prescribe it to help teens who have excessive hair growth on their bodies. Other medications can cause hair loss as well, including anticoagulants, beta blockers, and even high doses of vitamin A. 3. Poor nutrition Most people donвt think about the role of nutrition in healthy, supple hair and skin, but it does play a vital role. American teens often eat a diet high in starch and fats rather than a nourishing variety of fruits and vegetables. As a result, these teens can have deficiencies in important vitamins and nutrients. Their bodies then try to conserve what few healthful nutrients it has for its life-sustaining functions, diminishing the amount of nutrients to the hair. In addition, some teens may have poor nutrition due to eating disorders, and parents should watch carefully for this cause of hair loss. 4. Over-Styling In an effort to keep up with current trends and styles, teenage girls often use heat products and tight hairstyles.
If they use straighteners, blow dryers, and curling rods daily, theyвll eventually be dealing with dry, brittle hair. In addition, tight hairstyles like high ponytails and braids tug at the hair. If used often enough, they can pull out clumps, leading to embarrassing bald patches and shortened strands. 5. Deeper Medical Condition Sometimes, excessive hair loss can signal a deeper medical condition. For example, people can suffer hair loss if they have a scalp infection, unregulated diabetes, an overactive or underactive thyroid, skin disorders, or trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling). In most cases, these underlying medical conditions will have accompanying symptoms, such as scaly or inflamed skin, losing hair in big patches, and fatigue. Parents should take note of any other changes accompanying the hair loss in teenage girls and talk over any concerns with a doctor. Treating and Preventing Hair Loss in Teenage Girls The best way to treat hair loss is to address the root of the problem. Consider these steps in promoting healthy hair and nutrition for the body: Eat a well-balanced diet at optimal caloric intake. Eat more foods containing omega-3s. Wash and brush hair gently. Apply nourishing oils, such as argan or coconut oil. Limit heat styling and tight up-styles to certain days. Test for vitamin deficiencies, especially iron. Studies show that female hair loss often directly links to iron deficiencies. Test for abnormal hormonal imbalances and work with a doctor to correct it. Since hair loss is caused by hormonal functions, many cases of hair loss are related to hormonal imbalances. Reduce stress in the teenвs life. Stimulate the scalp with a massage. In most cases of hair loss, the above steps should take care of the problem. However, if the hair loss continues after several months, parents and teens should work closely with their doctors to discover the root cause. Also, if other abnormal symptoms are occurring with the hair loss, teens should see a doctor. This article first Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit.
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