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How Hair Loss Begins

Updated: May 6, 2020

Have you ever found yourself looking in the mirror and wondering where your hair has gone? Well if you’re anything like me you would have gradually noticed more and more hair falling out while washing your hair in the shower of brushing your hair in the morning.

Like most people this amount of hair loss didn’t happen overnight. It would have started out small but without treatment it gradually worsened over time. There are many reasons why your hair might be falling out like medication, hormones, pregnancy and genetic factors. Let’s look at these in more detail and discuss treatment options available to you.

Let’s start at the beginning by understanding how hair forms and the different cycles of hair growth. The first stage of hair growth is the Anagen (Growing Phase). This growing phase lasts two to seven years and determines the length of our hair.

The second stage is called the Catagen (Regression Phase). This stage lasts about ten days. The hair follicle shrinks then detaches from the dermal papilla.

The third stage is Telogen (Resting Phase). The resting phase lasts around three months. Around 10-15% of hairs are in this phase. As the old hair is resting, new hairs begin the growth phase. When hairs enter the resting phase too early it causes excess shedding and noticeable thinning.

The fourth and final phase is called the Exogen (Shedding Phase). The Exogen represents the period from when a resting hair reaches its terminal position in the follicle to when it finally detaches, resulting in shedding of the hair.

Now that we understand the different cycles of hair growth, we can look at the different factors that interrupt this process. A variety of health conditions have medications that are designed to treat them, but sometimes they have unwanted side effects. The most common form of hair loss caused by medications is telogen effluvium. This condition causes the hair follicles to go into the resting phase and fall out too early. This usually appears within 2 to 4 months after taking the drug. Telogen effluvium usually makes people shed between 30% to 70% more than the normal 100 and 150 hairs a day. There are many different types of drugs that can cause hair loss, including: antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs, acne medications containing vitamin A (retinoids), antidepressants, birth control pills, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. These are just some of the medications, that can lead to hair loss.

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