Hair loss: Symptoms and causes

Hair loss is now most common in the majority of people. Generally, people lose 50 to 100 hairs per day. As new hair grows at the same time, this is usually undetectable. Hair loss happens when the hair that has fallen out is not replaced by the new hair.


Hair growth is a four-phased process in which each phase has its own pace. The first three phases of hair growth are anagen, catagen and telogen respectively, which covers the hair growth and maturation, as well as the functioning of the hair follicles that generate individual hair. The last phase of hair growth is exogen, also known as the shedding phase where the hair strands are shed and new hair are grown in its place.
In the anagen phase, the hair follicles are producing hairs that will continue to develop until they reach the shedding phase. Approximately 90% of your hair are in the anagen phase at any time. Anagen is the longest phase which lasts for 3 to 5 years and in some people, a single hair can grow for up to 7 years.
The second phase of the cycle, catagen starts when the anagen phase is complete and lasts for around 2 to 3 weeks. Hair follicles weaken and hair growth slows during this phase. The hair likewise separates from the bottom of follicles, but it stays in place throughout its last days of growth. At any time, around 5% of your hair is in the catagen phase.
The telogen phase is the resting phase and it lasts for 2 to 3 months. Hair follicles are inactive in this phase and the hair shaft is no longer growing. Approximately 9% of the hair follicles are in the telogen phase at any given time.

Exogen or the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle is an extension of the telogen phase. Hair is released from the scalp during the exogen phase often during combing and washing. It is common to lose 50 to 100 hairs every day throughout the exogen phase. This phase can last for 2 to 5 months and new hairs grow in the follicles as old hair falls out. Hair may begin to fall out more quickly than it is regenerated if this hair growth cycle is disturbed or if a hair follicle is damaged. This results in symptoms such as thinning of hair, hair falling out in patches and baldness. Hair loss can affect your entire body or mainly your scalp and it can be temporary or permanent. Hair loss can be caused by hereditary, hormonal changes, health issues, ageing, stress, environmental factors and hairstyling.

Symptoms of Hair Loss

1) Thinning of hairs in the forehead

This is the most prevalent type of hair loss. In men, hair begins to recede around the hairline on the forehead. But in the cases of women, it occurs as the broadening of the part. Frontal fibrosing alopecia or a receding hairline is a common hair loss condition in older women.

2) Loosening of hair

Shedding more hair than usual while combing or washing can result in hair thinning.

3) Patchy bald spots

Patchy hair loss or alopecia areata is the loss of hair in circular or patchy bald spots in the scalp.

4) Scaly and itchy scalp

Skin conditions such as ringworm can cause patches of scaling that spread over the scalp which result in hair loss.

5) Widening of the part

Widening of the part of your hair is also a symptom of hair loss.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss can be caused by certain reasons;

1) Androgenic alopecia or hereditary hair loss

Hereditary hair loss is one of the most common causes of hair loss such as male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness. This condition usually happens as a result of ageing. In men, it manifests as a receding hairline and bald spots, whereas in women it manifests as thinning of hair around the crown area of the head.

2) Alopecia areata

It is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your hair follicles resulting in a small to a large range of bald patches. It may result in total hair loss in certain people.

3) Telogen effluvium

A traumatic incident, high level of stress or severe illness can cause telogen effluvium. In this case, a sudden loss of hair occurs as a result of emotional or physical shock.

4) Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can affect both men and women causing hair to thin or fall out. Treating the imbalance can often help your hair regenerate. While most people associate hormonal imbalance with estrogen and testosterone, abnormalities in your thyroid can also lead to hair thinning. Hormonal changes happen due to pregnancy and menopause can also cause hair loss.

5) Intake of certain medications

Certain medicines used in the treatment of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, blood pressure, gout, depression etc. can cause hair loss as a side effect.

6) Scalp infections

Fungal infections such as ringworm affect the scalp and hair

7) Excessive hairstyling

Excessive hairstyling and hair treatments that pull your hair tight can cause hair loss. Hair loss can also be caused by hot oil treatments.