Losing hair for both men and women can takes its toll psychologically. Losing hair can cause psychological stress due to its effect on appearance. The psychology of losing hair is a complex issue. Hair is considered an essential part of overall identity: especially for women, for whom it often represents femininity and attractiveness. Men typically associate a full head of hair with youth and vigor. Although they may be aware of pattern baldness in their family, many are uncomfortable talking about the issue. Losing hair is therefore a sensitive issue for both sexes. For sufferers, it can represent a loss of control and feelings of isolation. People experiencing hair loss often find themselves in a situation where their physical appearance is at odds with their own self-image and commonly worry that they appear older than they are or less attractive to others. Psychological problems due to a person losing hair, if present, are typically most severe at the onset of symptoms.
Losing hair due to cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. Body image does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. In such cases, patients have difficulties expressing their feelings (alexithymia) and may be more prone to avoiding family conflicts. Family therapy can help families to cope with these psychological problems if they arise.
Aside from the psychological issues, it is important to understand what could be causing you to begin losing hair. Apart from medical conditions being treated such as cancer, there are many other medical conditions that can cause a person to begin losing hair.
A sudden physical or emotional stress may cause one-half to three-quarters of the hair throughout your scalp to shed. You will notice hair coming out in handfuls while you shampoo, comb, or run your hands through your hair. You may not notice this for weeks to months after the episode of stress. The hair shedding will decrease over 6 – 8 months.
Cause of this type of hair loss are:
- High fever or severe infection
- Major surgery, major illness, sudden blood loss
- Severe emotional stress
- Crash diets, especially those that do not contain enough protein
- A number of medications, including retinoids, birth control pills, beta-blockers, certain antidepressants, NSAIDs (including iburpofen) and calcium channel blockers
Some women ages 30 – 60 may notice a thinning of the hair that affects the entire scalp. The hair loss may be heavier at first, and then gradually slow or stop. There is no known cause for this type of hair loss.
Other possible causes of hair loss, especially if it is in an unusual pattern, include:
- Alopecia areata — bald patches that develop on the scalp, beard, and, possibly, eyebrows. Eyelashes may fall out as well.
- Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
- Certain infectious diseases such as syphilis
- Excessive shampooing and blow-drying
- Hormone changes
- Thyroid diseases
- Nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing
- Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp)
- Tumor of the ovary or adrenal glands
Call your doctor if:
- You are losing hair in an unusual pattern
- You are losing hair rapidly or at an early age (for example, in your teens or twenties)
- You have any pain or itching with the hair loss
- The skin on your scalp under the involved area is red, scaly, or otherwise abnormal
- You have acne, facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle
- You are a woman and have male pattern baldness
- You have bald spots on your beard or eyebrows
- You have been gaining weight or have muscle weakness, intolerance to cold temperatures, or fatigue
After you have been diagnosed with why you are losing hair many options will be presented to you, some may work, other may be expensive and some may not be right for you. At Apollo we are concerned with getting you back to being yourself again. To help you through this trying time we have several hair care specialists standing by to take your call and offer a free, no obligation and confidential consultation.