Hair is an important aspect of our appearance, and that can affect self-esteem and identity. So it’s best to know all the facts about your follicles.
Gradually thinning hair
If you notice a gradual reduction in the overall volume of your hair – but you don’t notice an unusual amount of hair fallout – it’s probably androgenic alopecia. Androgenic alopecia is commonly known as male pattern baldness – but it occurs frequently in women as well. It happens when hair follicles on the scalp develop a sensitivity to androgens, a male hormone. This type of hair loss is largely genetic and is relating to ageing, says trichologist, Anabel Kingsley. You’ll probably find that the hair shaft itself becomes thinner too, as follicles are gradually shrinking. Kingsley says this type of hair thinning is the most difficult to treat, but a topical or oral medication can prevent further hair loss. Regrowth is possible, she says, but not in everyone; it simply depends on the person.
Suddenly thinning hair
If you notice a drop in overall hair volume, but it’s not gradual – as in, you see more hair than usual in your shower drain or hair brush – you probably have telogen effluvium, says Kingsley. This type of hair loss is not hereditary. Rather, it can be the result of stress, a thyroid condition, childbirth, a nutritional deficiency, and even the flu. “Hair is an inessential tissue,” says Kingsley – despite it seeming sometimes essential to our self-image. “So whenever there is an internal imbalance, or we’ve been unwell, [our systems] will stop sending essential nutrients to our hair.” If Kingsley suspects telogen effluvian, she’ll usually send her client to a medical professional to address the underlying issue. Mercifully, this telogen effluvian is usually temporary, and most clients see regrowth.