Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Hair loss is a process of losing hair. A normal hair cycle consists of a growth phase (anagen phase) that lasts three to six years on average, and a fall out phase (telogen phase) which lasts one to three months on average.

It is normal to lose about 100 hairs a day. Hair loss is considered abnormal if you lose more than 100 hairs per day for more than one month.

Different types of hair loss

Temporary hair loss (telogen effluvium)

  • The hair cycle is faster, causing hair to fall out too quickly
  • There is diffuse hair loss
  • There are several causes: serious illness, high fever, weight loss, new medication, severe stress, changing seasons, general anaesthesia, childbirth, etcetera.
  • This temporary hair loss can last up to three months.
  • This form of hair loss is reversible and after this phase, the hair will grow again like before.
  • Chronic conditions (e.g. autoimmune diseases, diabetes, thyroid disease, malnutrition with deficiencies) can cause chronic telogen hair loss.
  • Medication can also cause hair loss: certain blood thinners, chemotherapy, anti-depressants, and many others...

Chronic hair loss (androgenetic alopecia is the male type of hair loss)

  • As its name suggests, this form of hair loss is due to the activity of the male hormone in a genetic context and is therefore hereditary.
  • This form expands gradually and is not reversible
  • Women do not usually go completely bald, like men, but the remaining hairs have a thinner structure, are less firm and therefore break off more easily.
  • The scalp in patients with androgenetic alopecia looks completely normal.

Other forms of hair loss

There are also other forms of hair loss such as spot baldness (alopecia areata) and scarring hair loss (cicatricial alopecia).

Diagnosis and treatment

When to consult a physician?

  • When the hair loss is temporary, for example, after childbirth, illness... it is not always necessary to contact a physician.
  • In case of chronic hair loss, spot hair loss or hair loss with scarring near the scalp, a check-up and treatment by a physician may be necessary. You can contact us for this at the Dermatology Department.

Diagnosis

In certain situations, a blood test or skin biopsy may be necessary.

Treatment

  • A treatment can be started depending on the type of hair loss. Treatment can consist of a lotion, cream or foam to be applied to the scalp, injections or pill treatment.
  • Dietary supplements rarely make sense unless there is a proven vitamin or iron deficiency.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Dermatology

Latest publication date: 21/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Van Autryve Els