Hair Loss (Alopecia) – Possible Causes

Balding Woman's hair comes off on brushUnsure of what causes hair loss? Here are a few explanations on what causes them for women and men.

 

Androgenic Alopecia:

Male pattern hair loss- officially “androgenic alopecia”, is caused by a particular metabolite of testosterone called DHT, dihydrotestosterone.  Female hair loss associated with advancing age is caused by the same thing.  Treatments for it, both in the traditional medical model and naturopathic medicine, focus on limiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT.  However, the medications (Rogaine and those similar) do have their side effects, and (the bad news): hair loss will resume as soon as treatment is discontinued, whether traditional or naturopathic.

 

Alopecia Areata:

The autoimmune condition alopecia areata is also a possibility – usually in this case, hair falls out in clumps or breaks easily.  In some cases hair grows back on its own.  Traditional treatment involves immune system suppression (steroids).  Naturopathic treatment involves immune system modulation – this approach may look different depending on the patient.  One key definitely involves stress reduction.

 

Hormonal Imbalance:

Hormonal imbalance can also be the culprit.  Hair loss is relatively common in menopausal women, but it can also be seen in hypothyroidism, at the end of pregnancy, or following withdrawal of hormonal birth control treatments.  In this case, hormone balancing would be the appropriate approach.

 

Fungal Infections:

Occasionally fungal infections (tinea capitus) may be the cause, in which case topical antifungals are the appropriate approach, and perhaps natural systemic antifungals.

 

Malnutrition:

Hair loss can be secondary to malnutrition, from eating disorders like anorexia or just poor diet choices.  Certain nutrient deficiencies can cause hair loss, or simple lack of the necessary protein building blocks.  In this case, obviously dietary adjustment is the appropriate treatment – or, if the diet is adequate but the patient can’t absorb nutrients, then supporting the gut would be the wisest approach.