Illnesses That Cause Hair Loss: Find Out The Root Cause

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Blog, Hair loss | HairMD | May 20, 2021

illnesses that cause hair loss

Hair loss can be tough to deal with. The most common reasons behind hair loss are male or female pattern baldness or genetic baldness. However, it can also be caused by many other reasons and in the long term, it can be harmful. In this article we look at the underlying illnesses or diseases that can cause hair loss and how they can be tackled. 

How are illnesses that cause hair loss diagnosed?

When you consistently lose large chunks of hair, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue. This is where it is important to consult a doctor, as soon as possible. They will ask you about your medical history, and maybe conduct a physical examination to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes, it can be a minor health issue that can be solved with some dietary changes. Other times, your condition may require prescription medicines. If your doctor suspects some type of skin or autoimmune disease, they will request a biopsy of your scalp’s skin.

The biopsy process includes carefully removing a small section of scalp skin, for laboratory testing. You must remember that hair loss is a complex process and it affects everyone differently. It may take some time to determine the exact cause behind your hair loss.

Diseases that lead to hair loss

Signs of a hair loss causing disease: What to watch out for?

Illnesses causing hair loss

Here are some signs that you are losing hair because of an underlying illness:

  • You are losing eyelashes or eyebrow hair: If you start noticing hair loss from other parts of your body, besides the scalp, then you need to consult a doctor immediately. It can be a sign of an autoimmune disease.
  • You start feeling lethargic, constantly: If you start feeling chronically tired, even after a full night’s sleep, and are experiencing significant hair fall then it’s a sign that you are suffering from a mineral or vitamin deficiency.
  • Muscle ache: When hair falls and muscle ache occurs simultaneously, then it could mean you have a disorder like hypothyroidism.

What are the Different Illnesses That Cause Hair Loss?

1) Lupus

It is an autoimmune disease that generally affects nearly about 1.5 million people worldwide. Lupus is a dangerous disease as our body’s own immune system starts targeting and destroying our own healthy cells. In lupus, the stem cells present in the hair follicle are destroyed. These stem cells are responsible for hair growth. Loss of these stem cells leads to scarring and restricts the regrowth of hair.

Let’s see some of the symptoms to look for-

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Oral ulcers
  • Painful and swollen joints
  • Excessive swelling of hands and feet
  • Hair falling off in patches
  • Rashes over the body
  • Sensitive to sun exposure

Moreover, If you think that your hair loss is accompanied by these symptoms most importantly, we recommend you to visit a Rheumatologist. Certainly, he can help identify the disease by running tests like:

  • Joint examination
  • Blood test

2) Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland located in your neck produces a low amount of thyroid hormones. The Thyroid hormone is important for body metabolism and secretion of growth hormones. Decrease in levels of thyroid hormone can lead to hair loss. This condition mostly affects women and the symptoms of which can be seen if you’re experiencing from

  • Sudden weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Brittleness across hair and nails

3) Heart Disease

Over 60 years of research shows that there is a correlation between heart diseases and hair loss. Early onset of male pattern hair loss is a risk factor for an early onset of severe coronary heart disease. For example, men who experience hair loss in the age group of between 55 to 60 have an almost 44% chance of contracting heart disease. Similarly, women who experience hair loss before the age of 50 have an 84% chance. The link between male baldness and heart disease is still unclear. But many experts have stipulated that it may be related to an increase in male hormones i.e DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Therefore, increased hormones also leads to high blood pressure.

4) Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is also classified as an impulse control disorder. This leads the patients to excessively pull out their own hair. However, this constant pulling of hair causes damage of hair follicles which are responsible for the density and thickness of the hair. However, this condition rarely causes baldness. But it is responsible for heavy shedding. Mostly, it can be treated by behavior modification therapy and antidepressants.

5) Anemia

It is nothing but an iron deficiency in your body. However, anemia is a harmful condition that affects 1 in 10 women through the age of 20 to 49. The symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hand and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Headache

Anemia condition has been linked with hair loss. It can be treated by adding supplements of iron to your diet. However, a proper consultation is necessary before taking any steps for this.

6) Vitamin B deficiency

To increase the production of Vitamin B12, it is necessary to focus on your diet. Vit B12 is required for production of red blood cells. Therefore if  red blood cells are not produced, it may cause fatigue, low metabolism, and even hair fall. Vit B12 deficiency is most commonly seen in vegetarians. For Vitamin B12 deficiency you should include soya, fish, and starchy vegetables in your diet.

7) Fungal Infections

Fungal infection of the hair follicles of the scalp can cause hair loss

Ringworm

Infections on the scalp can cause red patchiness. This, in turn, can cause your hair to shed.

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an infection that causes inflammation of hair follicles. When it progresses it can cause thinning of hair. Eventually, it can cause complete baldness. 

Seborrheic Dermatitis

It is a condition that occurs because of the inflammation of the skin. Excessive inflammation  can lead to hair fall.

9) Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack your own hair follicles. It affects around 4.5 million people every year. The cause of alopecia areata is often linked to illness or stress. However, in 70% cases after a few years, the hair starts growing back normally even if it is not treated. However, it can be treated by various therapies in severe cases

  • Oral steroids
  • Ultraviolet Therapy/ Excimer Laser
  • Immunosuppressive

10) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is the cause of hair loss in females. It occurs due to  imbalance of female and male sex hormones i.e imbalance between testosterone and estrogen. Excessive dosage of androgens (testosterone) leads to cysts in the ovaries and increases  the risk of diabetes, sudden weight gains, and hair thinning.

To learn more about Hair loss causing illnesses and to resolve your queries call us on +91-788809119 or book an appointment today!

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