Common Causes of Hair Loss in Singapore

Hair loss, medically known as alopecia, is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While some degree of hair shedding is normal, excessive or persistent hair loss can be distressing and may indicate an underlying health issue. Understanding the common causes of hair loss is essential for effective management and treatment.

1. Androgenetic Alopecia (Male and Female Pattern Baldness):

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly referred to as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss, is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. It is hereditary and is characterized by a gradual thinning of hair on the scalp, typically starting at the temples or crown in men and resulting in a receding hairline or bald patches. In women, it often leads to overall thinning of the hair.

2. Telogen Effluvium:

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss characterized by excessive shedding of hair due to a disruption in the hair growth cycle. This condition can be triggered by various factors, including physical or emotional stress, hormonal changes (such as childbirth or menopause), illness, surgery, rapid weight loss, or certain medications. Telogen effluvium often causes diffuse thinning of the scalp hair rather than bald patches.

3. Alopecia Areata:

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition characterized by the sudden onset of hair loss in small, round patches on the scalp or other parts of the body. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss. In some cases, alopecia areata may progress to alopecia totalis (complete scalp hair loss) or alopecia universalis (total body hair loss).

4. Medical Conditions and Treatments:

Various medical conditions and treatments can cause hair loss as a side effect. These include thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), scalp infections (such as ringworm), nutritional deficiencies (especially iron deficiency anemia), autoimmune diseases (such as lupus), and cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation therapy). Hair loss associated with these conditions or treatments may be temporary or permanent, depending on the underlying cause.

5. Trichotillomania:

Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder characterized by the recurrent urge to pull out one’s hair, leading to noticeable hair loss and bald patches. This compulsive behavior is often triggered by stress, anxiety, or boredom. Individuals with trichotillomania may experience feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment about their hair-pulling behavior.

6. Poor Hair Care Practices:

Certain hair care practices, such as excessive heat styling, tight hairstyles (e.g., ponytails, braids), and chemical treatments (e.g., bleaching, perming), can damage the hair shaft and contribute to hair breakage and loss over time. Additionally, using harsh hair products or frequent washing with hot water can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness and inflammation that may impair hair growth.

Treatment Options:

The treatment of hair loss depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In many cases, addressing the underlying medical condition, improving nutritional deficiencies, reducing stress, and adopting healthy hair care practices can help promote hair regrowth.

For androgenetic alopecia, medications such as minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) may be prescribed to slow down hair loss and stimulate regrowth. In cases of alopecia areata, treatments such as corticosteroid injections, topical immunotherapy, or oral medications may be recommended to suppress the immune response and promote hair regrowth.

In conclusion, understanding the common causes of hair loss is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. While some forms of hair loss may be temporary or reversible, others may require ongoing management to minimize further hair thinning and promote regrowth. Consulting with a dermatologist or trichologist can help individuals develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and concerns.