Hair loss is extremely common in both men and women. Although it is commonly associated with older age, there are a lot of potential reasons you may start to lose your hair. While the majority of the time it isn’t anything to worry about, in some cases it could be a sign of something more serious.

Here, we will look at some of the signs to watch out for that could point to a more serious issue.

Thyroid disorders and hair loss

Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism are autoimmune hormonal imbalances. They occur most frequently in women and can result in hair loss. They are the medical terms for an over-active and under-active thyroid.

Muscle aches tend to accompany the hair loss with this condition. You may also experience weight gain or loss, fatigue, constipation, and a low heart rate.

Anaemia and hair loss

Occasionally, hair loss can relate to iron deficiency anaemia. The condition is caused when you aren’t taking in enough daily iron. The reason it occurs is thought to be because the hair cells are sensitive to a decreasing amount of iron in the body. This means they might not produce new cells as effectively as usual.

Alongside hair loss, other symptoms which could point to anaemia include shortness of breath, fatigue, brittle nails, fast heartbeat, and pale skin.

Autoimmune diseases and hair loss

Hair loss can sometimes point to an autoimmune disease. Alopecia Areata and Lupus are just a couple of autoimmune diseases that can contribute towards hair loss.

Alopecia Areata is the most severe type of hair loss, sometimes leading to complete permanent baldness. There are different types of the condition, including Alopecia totalis and Alopecia Universalis. The former results in a loss of hair all over the scalp, while Alopecia Universalis results in hair loss across the whole body. While this condition can be highly distressing, it isn’t dangerous to your health. You also won’t experience any other symptoms.

With Lupus, it also occurs due to the autoimmune system attacking its own cells. The inflammation caused can start to damage the body’s organs such as the joints, kidneys and lungs. Hair loss is a symptom of the condition, alongside swollen joints, fever, body aches, skin rashes, and headaches.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and hair loss

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects women, resulting in increased androgen production. It mostly causes hair to grow in places it shouldn’t such as on the face, chest, and abdomen. It causes a number of symptoms including hair loss, irregular periods, weight gain, oily skin, and difficulty getting pregnant.

Skin conditions and hair loss

A number of skin conditions can also lead to hair loss on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis is just one skin condition that can trigger hair loss and thinning. It causes inflamed, scaly skin that is painful or itchy to the touch. It can worsen due to stress or chronic fatigue, and it leads to hair loss when it occurs on the scalp.

As you can see, there are a lot of potential causes of hair loss to be aware of. Sometimes it could be a sign of a more serious problem. For this reason, it is important to seek a diagnosis from a hair loss expert before you seek treatment.

A new study has revealed that bald men are more likely to suffer with severe COVID. The findings were revealed at the EADV 2021 Spring Symposium, linking a biomarker relating to hair loss, with severe COVID infections.

Below, we will look at what the study into COVID and male pattern baldness found and how it might help in the treatment of COVID-19.

The link between COVID and male pattern baldness explored

The study was carried out after researchers noticed a large number of men who were hospitalised for COVID, had androgenetic alopecia. That is, male pattern baldness. The goal of the study was to determine how the androgen receptor gene associated with COVID. It is known that an enzyme associated with the COVID-19 infection, is regulated by an androgen response.

The study included 65 male patients who had been hospitalised with COVID-19. Their AR CAG repeat length was measured. This revealed that patients who had a CAG repeat of under 22 nucleotides, were dramatically less likely to be admitted into the ICU than those with a higher score.

The CAG repeat region is located within the AR gene, and it is also associated with androgenetic alopecia.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is a common type of hair loss said to affect around 50% of men aged over 50. It is thought to be caused by both genetic and hormonal factors.

The DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) hormone changes the scalp’s hair follicles. Those that are affected start to become smaller and shorter in length. Eventually, the hair follicles shrink completely and stop producing new hair.

This type of hair loss tends to follow the same pattern. The hairline recedes, while hair starts to fall out from the top of the head. Currently, there is no cure for male pattern baldness. However, new treatments are constantly being developed to help treat the condition.

How might the study help with future treatments?

This new study could help in the development of new treatments, particularly for COVID-19. The researchers are now exploring a new therapy for the coronavirus. It involves a novel androgen receptor antagonist, working to regulate the TMPRSS2 expression. This would possibly help to treat COVID patients.

The research could also help in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. By looking into how the AR gene contributes towards the condition, preventative measures can be explored.

What current treatments are available for androgenetic alopecia?

While there isn’t a cure for androgenetic alopecia, there are some ways to treat it. Using oral and topical treatments can help to slow its progression. Hair transplant surgery may also be available depending upon the severity of the condition. A hair loss expert can advise on the most appropriate treatment option.

Hair loss is one of the most common conditions worldwide. So, why is it still surrounded by so much stigma?

A new study has revealed patients who suffer with alopecia areata are frequently stigmatised because of the condition. Interestingly, it also showed that the level of stigma depended upon the severity of the alopecia.

Here, we will look at what the study found and why there is still a stigma surrounding hair loss today.

What the latest study revealed

A cross-sectional study was carried out in America, with participants asked to fill out online surveys. They were required to react to images of individuals who were experiencing different degrees of hair loss. Alongside the images, participants were also asked to answer questions relating to stereotypes, disease, and social distance myths.

It was revealed that the more severe the level of hair loss, the more stigma occurred. Those who were completely bald due to alopecia were seen as not attractive or sick. Work related questions also posed concern, with 6.2% of respondents claiming they would be reluctant to hire somebody with alopecia. A total of 16.9% said they would also feel uncomfortable having physical contact with somebody who has alopecia.

The researchers discovered it was largely down to a lack of understanding about the condition. Those who did recognise alopecia as a medical condition didn’t have as much stigma towards it.

Why is there still stigma relating to hair loss today?

Due to how common hair loss is, you would think that there would be a lot less stigma surrounding the condition. Both men and women are widely known to suffer with age or genetic related hair loss. The trouble is society today places a lot of importance on aesthetics.

In an interview with the BBC on the stigma surrounding male pattern baldness and its effects on men, Dr David Fenton commented:

“Representations of physical perfection in the media lead many men to seek self-esteem in their appearance. People create confidence and self-esteem from it, and when they lose even a little bit, if their character and confidence is based on that, they’re going to have severe emotional and psychological impacts.”

Social media certainly plays a role in the stigma surrounding the condition. There is more pressure to look perfect now than there ever was before. Despite increasing awareness of hair loss, there are still a large number of people who are unfamiliar with alopecia areata and the fact it is a medical condition.

Understanding alopecia

Alopecia areata can vary greatly in severity. It is a medical condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Typically, small patches of hair fall out, but in some cases, it can affect the entire scalp. There is no cure for alopecia areata currently, although new treatments are continuously being researched.

The new research shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate the stigma surrounding the condition and hair loss as a whole.

Stress has long been known to link to hair loss. However, little is known as to how this actually causes the hair to shed.

Now, scientists from Harvard University have discovered how stress results in hair loss. In a study carried out on mice, it was revealed hair loss and balding occurred due to inhibited production of the GAS6 chemical.

Understanding the latest study

The study, published in the Nature journal, aimed to reveal how stress caused hair loss. Mice were fed corticosterone (the stress hormone), as well as introduced to a variety of stressors. These included putting the mice through isolation, changes in light, and damp bedding.

It was discovered that corticosterone can inhibit the GAS6 chemical production. The chemical is required to promote new hair growth. So, when it is inhibited, the hair falls into the dormant stage, before eventually shedding.

So far, this has only shown to occur in mice. However, researchers claim that the mechanism of the hair is similar in humans. This would lead us to believe that human trials would present the same effects.

Could this lead to new hair loss treatments?

The discovery of the link between corticosterone and GAS6 could potentially lead to the development of new hair loss treatments moving forward. However, human studies will need to be conducted to ensure the same results are recorded.

The researchers believe future treatments that increase the level of GAS6 could prove effective at treating alopecia. However, even if it does prove to be successful on humans, it won’t necessarily work for everyone.

There are many kinds of hair loss, and some forms of alopecia are more severe than others. Therefore, the cause of hair loss will depend upon whether this type of treatment would prove effective in the future.

What current treatment options are available?

Stress related hair loss is known as Telogen Effluvium. It is a temporary form of hair loss that is also known to occur after pregnancy.

With Telogen Effluvium, more hair is forced into the dormant phase. After a period of time, it will start to shed all at once. This leads to thinning. It will typically clear up by itself, particularly once the stress resides. However, in the meantime there are treatments patients can use to encourage a faster recovery.

Ensuring you eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is important. You should also avoid heat styling your hair, as well as reduce your stress levels. You can use over the counter topical treatments such as Minoxidil to help encourage regrowth.

Most of the time, Telogen Effluvium will clear up by itself. However, you should undergo a consultation to ensure stress is the cause of the problem, or whether it could be down to something else.