Hair loss (alopecia): what is it and what helps?

Everyone has hair loss because people lose hair every day. But if bald spots appear on the scalp, this indicates excessive hair loss. PraxisVITA explains what types of hair loss exist, how it develops and what helps to prevent it.

  1. 1. Overview
  2. 2. Causes
  3. 3. Symptoms
  4. 4. Diagnosis
  5. 5. Treatment
  6. 6. Prevention
  7. 7. That’s what the expert says

We find unusual hair every day in the comb, in the brush or in the shower drain. As long as the number of hairs does not get out of hand, is this completely normal. But if there are more and more and bald spots on the scalp slowly show up, Doctors speak of hair loss, which in some cases can lead to complete baldness.

Hair loss is particularly noticeable when combing Photo: splain2me /

What is hair loss??

Every person loses up to 100 hairs every day because every single hair is constantly renewed. It goes through a cycle that consists of three phases. In the growth phase, the so-called anaphase, the hair is supplied with nutrients via the roots and grows. This phase of hair growth usually lasts for several years. This is followed by the transition phase (catagen phase), which only lasts one to two weeks. In it, the supply of hair is stopped, the hair cells no longer divide and hair growth stagnates. The last phase is the resting phase, the telogen phase, which lasts up to four months. At the end, the hair falls out and a new cycle begins.

Doctors understand hair loss (effluvium) as a loss of hair beyond normal, while too little or no new hair is being formed at the same time. Hair can fall out during its growth phase (anagen efluvium) or during the rest phase (telegon efluvium) in the hair cycle.

Hair loss can occur over a large area

The hair loss can be diffuse, i.e. spread over a large area, or it can spread out from one place (herd-shaped). Complete hairlessness is medically called alopecia. Usually this only affects individual areas on the scalp, but it can also lead to complete hairlessness of the head (alopecia totalis, "bald head") or even the entire body (alopecia universalis).

Hair growth takes place in different phases. Doctors speak of hair loss when hair loss increases massively and bald spots form as a result. Photo: Fotolia

Causes of hair loss: In men, it is usually hereditary

There are many different types of hair loss. The most common form in men and women is that hereditary hair loss, the alopecia androgenetica. It accounts for about 95 percent of all hair loss cases in men and women. It usually begins between the ages of 30 and 40, but it can also appear in men shortly after puberty (alopecia prematura). Overall, up to 80 percent of men and 42 percent of women are affected. The so-called circular hair loss (alopecia areata) on the other hand, usually occurs in late childhood or in young adults. Men and women are affected approximately equally often.

Tricho-scan procedure ensures hair loss diagnosis

If you lose more than 100 hairs a day, you should have the cause clarified by the doctor. A lack of nutrients, infections, stress or medication can be the cause. Most often, however, the loss is hormonal or genetic. Many clinics and dermatologists offer help to find the reason and therefore a suitable treatment: After an in-depth survey, the doctor removes around 70 hairs and microscopically determines the extent of the hair loss. In addition, he can use blood analysis and the tricho-scan process on the computer to find out the causes of the hair loss. Statutory health insurance companies only cover the costs (depending on the scope 60 – 200 euros) if you suspect that you are ill.

Hair loss: medication can be to blame

Be it acne medication, antihypertensive drugs or headache tablets: Many medicinal substances can attack the hair and its roots. Sometimes the damage persists for months. Especially in the sensitive growth phase of the hair, substances that get into the roots with the blood supply can slow down growth. Then there is the so-called diffuse hair loss. And so some “inexplicable” failures can be explained – and those affected can talk to their doctor about possible replacement medication. Here is the overview:

For acne and other skin diseases, doctors often prescribe medications with so-called retinoids. These substances are closely related to vitamin A, which actually protects the hair roots from damage. However, such drugs can overdose the hair and put it in a kind of coma. This can result in severe hair loss. Scientists also found that retinoids have a strong effect on the cells that produce keratin, the hair building material: This is why they can also influence the density, distribution and color of all body hair.

Help: The problem usually disappears after switching to another retinoid preparation or a lower dose. Ask your doctor.

  • Antidepressants don’t leave the hair alone

After a hair has sprouted and grown, it enters a resting phase at some point. Usually this lasts about three months, in the end the hair dies and falls out. That is the natural process. However, a number of antidepressants such as fluoxetine, doxepin or imipramine reverse this resting phase so that the hair dies directly. The result: early, severe loss or thin hair.

Help: The doctor treating you may be able to reduce the dose of the antidepressant. Switching to another means also helps.

Antihypertensives can damage the roots

Doctors often prescribe beta-blockers for high blood pressure or irregular heartbeat. In particular, the active ingredients metoprolol and propranolol can damage the hair roots (foils) in some cases. A similar undesirable effect is possible with the so-called ACE inhibitors against high blood pressure.

Help: After switching or stopping medication, the hair returns.

Blood thinners have a similar effect

To prevent life-threatening clots, many patients – especially after operations – rely on blood thinners. Doctors usually prescribe the active ingredient heparin. This can also damage the hair roots and thus lead to a temporary failure.

Help: There are alternative medications that can also cause hair loss, but are less likely.

Important: The often used over-the-counter pain reliever ibuprofen can also make the hair thinner or lead to failure. Researchers suspect the cause is a possible damage to the hair roots.

Help: After switching to an alternative pain therapy, these side effects usually disappear after eight to nine months.

Home remedies for hair loss

Naturopaths and naturopaths recommend soothing self-treatment for hair loss. It can also help if medication does not trigger the problem, but rather, for example, stress or a lack of micronutrients such as vitamins A and H, zinc or iron.

The seeds of the plant contain several substances that the organism needs to build hair. They also harmonize the hormonal balance that affects hair growth. Drink a cup of tea (pharmacy) daily.

The oil promotes the supply of nutrients to the hair roots and protects the scalp from harmful microorganisms, such as yeasts. Massage a teaspoon of coconut oil (health food, health food store) into the scalp once a day before washing your hair.

In one study, the juice from red onions – applied thinly once a day – stimulated hair growth in 71 percent of all women.

Temporary hair loss, e.g. triggered by stress, can be alleviated by relaxation and a cup of green tea Photo:

Hair loss: Relaxation lets hair sprout vigorously again

A brief load provides the body with an extra boost of energy. If you don’t rest for weeks, you have a permanently elevated level of stress hormones. According to studies, these attack the hair follicles. Tip: It often helps to take a deep breath for ten minutes to bring body and soul back into harmony. Inhale for four seconds in the belly, air short hold and exhale again for four seconds. Autogenic training and meditation also protect against stress.

Even in old age, the hair can still be preserved

Essential oils help against hair loss in old age. They stimulate the blood circulation in the scalp. Massage two to four drops of pine oil (pharmacy) into the scalp every other evening, leave to act overnight, wash out in the morning.

Hair loss after infection – wait and drink tea

Massive hair loss can also start two to three months after a febrile infection. The reason: the increased body temperature damages the hair roots.

In addition, the hair is undersupplied with nutrients during the illness. Due to the disturbed growth phase, the hair thins out later. It takes a few weeks for recovery to start and hair to grow back. Tip: Green tea contains antioxidants that protect the hair cells from harmful influences and counteract hair loss.

Hair loss due to lack of nutrients: Biotin ensures full splendor

Our hair needs certain nutrients in order to grow vigorously. The B vitamin biotin, zinc and iron in particular support it hair Health. Tip: Two eggs a week and as a snack for a handful of nuts in between are excellent vitamin B suppliers. Red meat, fish and oatmeal also cover the basic iron and zinc requirements.

Answers to the 7 most common questions about hair loss

Circular hair loss is curable?

Circular hair loss is triggered by a malfunction of the immune system: Defense cells attack the hair follicles, preventing hair growth. The US researcher Angela Christiano has found out how this happens: In patients with circular hair loss, certain enzymes are produced in excess, which in turn activates the immune system: Special immune messengers attract so-called T cells, which attack the hair follicles.

In a new study, Christiano now tested different medications on a small group of test subjects, which were supposed to prevent the attack on the hair follicles. Her conclusion: drugs that contain so-called JAK inhibitors stop the excess production of the enzyme. As a result, the immune system no longer sounds the alarm and the hair follicles are no longer attacked. However, the effect could only be demonstrated for circular hair loss, not for other forms such as hereditary hair loss. You can read all the results of the study in our article "Is hair loss curable?".

How resilient our hair is?

For example, healthy hair can carry 100 grams of weight. And what is it about the claim that too much brushing promotes bald spots? Nothing at all, because only dead hair can fall out when combing.

Blow drying the hair does not cause hair loss. It can only damage the hair if the device is held too close to the hair at the highest level Photo:

Regrow hair that has failed with the roots?

Many believe that the answer is clearly "no". Not correct! If the growth cells in the so-called root bellows are not damaged, the hair will grow back. Hair loss with root occurs, for example, with chemotherapy. However, if the upper layer of skin is burned or injured by a scar, for example due to an accident, the hair can no longer grow back.

Damages blow drying the hair?

No, only if we hold the device too close to the hair at the highest level. Therefore, the following applies: choose the lowest temperature and keep a minimum distance of 20 cm from the head. Professionals also recommend devices with a high fan strength. It ensures that the hair dries faster. The easiest way is to simply let the hair air dry.

Are pregnancies to blame for excessive hair loss?

No, it just seems so. The hormone change during pregnancy often makes the hair grow particularly lush. After birth, many mothers struggle with increased hair loss. The cause is a drop in the level of estrogen. Usually the growth returns to normal after a few months.

Promote hats or helmets hair loss?

No! Headgear often doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to the health of our hair. Because they are said to interrupt the air supply to the hair roots and promote their death. According to doctors, this theory is nothing more than a fairy tale.

Which hairstyles are unhealthy in the long run?

In particular, tight hair knots or tied braids can lead to hair loss. Because of the strong traction, the roots are affected. Therefore, it is better to wear the hair open and use clips, for example, for hairdressing. A loose ponytail is also safe.

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