If you start to notice that you see more hairs on the floor than you used to or that you are seeing more of your forehead than you used to, your first reaction might be to thank mom or dad sarcastically. But you may not want to jump to conclusions. Your hair loss could be due to a variety of causes that have nothing to do with genetics. Some of these may be controllable or even reversible. Identifying the cause of your hair loss is the first step in coping.
One of the most common causes, especially for unexpected hair loss, is illness. Every characteristic about our hair comes from our bodies. When something affects the body’s systems, it will inevitably be reflected in our skin and hair. Illness can change our internal chemical composition; when those chemicals are not in the normal or acceptable ranges, we see the changes. Chronic illness can make these reactions worse, so it is important to seek treatment.
Of course, the treatment could also be the problem. We all know that many medications have so many side effects that the treatment seems to be worse than the actual disease. Make sure that you are consulting with your treating physician on what side effects your medicines could be causing. You will also want to evaluate how medications can interact with one another. For those controlling chronic conditions, you need to be sure to share with your doctor any treatments you are pursuing, including details on lifestyle. Vitamins, supplements, and alternative treatments can affect your chemical balance.
In the same vein as illness, stress can also be effecting your hair. To avoid all stress completely is unrealistic, but some of us are prone to exposing ourselves to more stress than is necessary. Most of the time, it is the side effects of stress, like forgetting to take care of ourselves properly, that can cause the most damage. Avoid stressful situations: stress wreaks havoc not only on your body, but also your hair.
If you have eliminated (or confirmed) any of these as a cause, the next likely culprit is environmental exposure. Environmental exposure is not just the quality of air in your town; it is the water you drink and bathe as well as the air and infiltrates inside your home. Regarding your hair – and skin – water composition is critical to healthy appearance. If you see a lot of hard water residue building up around your drains, these are the same things that are building up on your scalp and hair. Your local water utility should provide a water quality report to you; be sure to ask questions if you see anything suspicious on it. You may also be able to get a water evaluation to make sure it is not something in your pipes that is causing poor water quality. Installing a filter and softeners may solve this problem.
Make sure that before you alter anything to check with your primary care physician and a specialist. You do not want to cause more harm to your health by trying to save your hair. If you need help in identifying the cause of your hair loss and how to treat it, consider meeting with Dr. Guenthner or one of his highly experienced physician assistants or nurse practitioners.