Hair loss, or alopecia, is a distressing reality for tens of millions of adults in the United States. Whether it takes the form of overall scalp thinning, a receding hairline, or complete balding, hair loss is a problem that often emerges in middle age.
As a board-certified anti-aging expert who offers a full scope of hair restoration services at RVA Regenerative Wellness in Midlothian, Virginia, Jennylle Zanzi, FNP-C, and our team know how upsetting hair loss can be. But we also know that in most cases, hair loss is highly treatable.
The first step in successful hair restoration? Diagnosing the underlying cause and contributing factors of your hair loss problem. Let’s take a closer look at five common reasons for hair loss after the age of 40.
An interrupted hair growth cycle
The average scalp has about 100,000 hair follicles. All follicles progress through a four-phase cycle that’s marked by periods of active growth, rest, and shedding. Any disruption to this cycle can result in hair loss. The stages of the hair growth cycle are:
A hair follicle’s active growth phase, called anagen, can last for years. At any given time, 85-90% of the follicles on your head and body are in this phase.
During this short transitional phase, hair growth stops, and the hair shaft gradually separates from its follicle. The catagen phase typically lasts about 10 days.
The inactive hair follicle rests for two or three months after the catagen phase.
In the final stage of the hair growth cycle, a follicle enters its momentary “shedding” phase. This is when the hair shaft falls away from its resting follicle. Once a follicle sheds its shaft of hair, it goes back to the active-growth phase and begins forming a new hair shaft.
Five frequent causes of hair loss
Most people lose 50-100 scalp hairs each day to this normal cycle. Hair loss happens when something either damages hair follicles or disrupts their growth cycle, impairing follicular regrowth or causing you to shed hair faster than your follicles can replace them.
The five most common reasons for hair growth cycle disruption after the age of 40 are:
1. Genetic factors
An estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. cope with hereditary hair loss also known as male-pattern baldness, female-pattern thinning, or androgenetic alopecia. This is the most common form of hair loss for men and women alike.
Men tend to experience genetic hair loss as a well-defined pattern of hair recession starting above the temples, or as progressive balding at the crown. In women, genetic hair loss is more likely to cause all-over thinning and a widening middle part.
2. Basic imbalances
Fundamental hormonal imbalances as well as certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to hair loss or as is so often the case worsen an existing hair loss problem triggered by genetics.
The systemic hormonal imbalances brought on by thyroid disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and menopause can undermine hair follicle health and lead to thinning hair. Basic nutritional deficiencies caused by low iron, protein, biotin, or zinc can have the same effect.
3. Chronic stress
Telogen effluvium, excessive shedding induced by physical or emotional stress, is another frequent cause of mid-life hair loss. It may happen following a severe illness, major surgery, or childbirth, or it may be prompted by the death of a loved one, divorce, or another emotional life event.
This type of hair loss often emerges weeks after the triggering stress episode. Most of the time, excess hair shedding starts to slow down within a year, followed by increased hair regrowth.
Mid-life hair loss can also be an autoimmunity problem, meaning it occurs when the immune system erroneously attacks and destroys healthy body cells such as your hair follicles. Known as alopecia areata, this condition can cause patchy hair loss on your scalp as well as your face and body.
This type of hair loss tends to be sudden rather than gradual and is more likely to affect adults with a family history of the disorder or a personal history of other autoimmune problems, such as diabetes, lupus, or thyroid disease.
5. Harsh hairstyling
Harsh hairstyling treatments (i.e., coloring, perming, relaxing, straightening) and severe hairstyling techniques (i.e., very tight ponytails, braids, or buns) can weaken your hair shafts and lead to easy breakage. Over time, harsh hairstyling habits can damage hair follicles and cause irreversible hair loss.
Getting to the bottom of hair loss
Getting to the root of your hair loss problem is the first step toward halting the process in its tracks. Most cases of alopecia are treatable and our team can provide a comprehensive plan to help you reinvigorate stressed or dormant follicles and restore a fuller head of healthy hair.
Ready to uncover the reasons behind your hair loss? We’re here to help. Call 786-224-6878 today, or use our online booking feature to schedule a visit at RVA Regenerative Wellness in Midlothian, Virginia, any time.