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Hair Loss Clinic

A GUIDE TO HAIR LOSS AND ITS CAUSES

The average person loses 100 hairs a day, mostly during washing or brushing. This may sound like a lot but is entirely normal as you’re constantly replenishing your hair with new growth. But what if you’re losing more than average?

Hair loss may be common in men of a certain age but can impact women and children too in some cases. Far from being just a physical symptom, losing your hair can dramatically affect your self-esteem and mental health, which in turn can disrupt your hair growth cycle further.
Our Secret Salon Academy guide will take you through the various reasons that hair loss can occur, and what you can do to support hair growth and enhance your appearance.

  • Alopecia
    Traction alopecia
    Trichotillomania
    Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
    Male and Female Pattern baldness
    Post-partum hair loss
    Birth control
    Thyroid issues
    Menopause
    Covid-19

Alopecia

Alopecia can be the cause of hair loss which occurs on any area of the body. There are several different types of alopecia, some of which are temporary, meaning that your hair will regrow in time. Others are associated with permanent hair loss. 

Alopecia areata is the most common form of the condition and affects around 0.15% of the UK population at any one time, with 2% experiencing symptoms at some point in their life, striking at any time. 

Alopecia areata is characterised as being spot baldness, affecting just small patches of hair which can be coin shaped in size. As a well-known autoimmune condition, it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles and prevents hair from growing. If you are diagnosed with alopecia areata, then it is common for the hair loss to be a temporary flare-up followed by a period of regrowth. This stop-start cycle can continue over many years, but in some cases will develop into permanent hair loss.   

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for alopecia areata, although there are many support resources available including the charity, Alopecia UK.

Alopecia totalis is more extensive than alopecia areata and refers to the loss of all the hair on the scalp. Much like alopecia areata, this is an autoimmune condition that is created when the immune system mistakenly believes its being attacked by a virus and therefore targets its own cells as a result. 

Alopecia universalis is where hair on other parts of the body is lost, as well as the scalp. This can affect the eyelashes, eyebrows, and all other body hair too. 

If you notice any bald patches on the scalp or feel that you’re shedding more hair than is normal for you, then get in touch with your GP to discuss your symptoms in more detail. Where possible, try to refer to old photos for comparison and see if you have previously had more volume. 

Traction Alopecia 

This condition is caused by hairstyles which pull the hair up or back so tightly that the follicles are removed from the scalp. It is unlikely that traction alopecia would develop quickly and is more likely if you choose to wear a high ponytail or similar style over a prolonged period. In cases of traction alopecia, you’ll find that hair loss is more pronounced in areas of the scalp where the most tension is created. This might be along the hairline, the crown or behind the ears. 

If you notice that you’re losing hair due to traction alopecia, the first step you can take is to adopt a looser hairstyle and be careful not to overbrush. This will allow your hair to grow back naturally in time since you won’t be tugging at the roots. You can also wear hair toppers and hair extensions to wear over any patches that are balding.

Unfortunately, if you continue to wear your hair in any style where there is tension, then you risk permanent hair loss as the follicles will not develop. 

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a mental health condition which can be described as a hair-pulling disorder. There are 20,000 sufferers in the UK, and the main symptom is a compulsion to pull their own hair out from the root. Typically, the hair on the head is the main target, but it’s not unknown for hair on the eyebrows, lashes, or beard to be removed too, as well as other body areas.
Trich is thought to be both an obsessive compulsive and a body-focused repetitive disorder. People at any stage in life can be affected, but the condition is more common in young people, with girls more impacted than boys, according to the NHS.


Mental health symptoms including stress, anger or anxiety can be a catalyst for trich, and sufferers sometimes feel a sense of relief after pulling their hair out as it allows them to release pent-up tension. Some people with trichotillomania are aware of their actions whereas others act unconsciously when they’re experiencing stress. For those who are aware of both their actions and the result of thinning hair, they can develop a lack of confidence and low self-esteem due to the change in their appearance.
If you wish to discuss treatment options with your GP, you will often be offered a talking therapy called CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy. The goal of this is to modify your thought patterns and internal response to stress or other strong emotions and face them with positivity. As part of your therapy, you might be asked to keep a diary, making notes of when you pull your hair to make you aware of your triggers and therefore learn how to avoid them. This information can be used to develop a coping strategy for trich, for example substituting hair pulling for another type of stress release such as using a fidget aid. Putting plasters on your fingers or using breathing techniques can also help.


If the change in your physical appearance is causing you stress, then this can exacerbate the trichotillomania. You can use hair toppers, extensions or real hair wigs to cover your thinning hair. Attending hair extensions training courses will provide you with more information on these options. It’s also important to develop a strong support network around you – make sure you discuss your condition with family and friends, your GP or reach out to the Trichotillomania charity to access their resources.

Cancer treatments

One person is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes in the UK, which equals approximately 360,000 new cases each year. Thankfully, approximately 50% of people will survive cancer for at least 10 years after their diagnosis thanks to a range of treatments available including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. However, these treatments can be challenging and overwhelming with many physical side effects including changes to a person’s appearance.
Hair loss is one of the most recognisable effects of chemotherapy and this can include the hair on your scalp as well as eyebrows, lashes, armpit, pubic and other body hair. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill any cells that are growing rapidly to combat the spread of cancer; however, they will also attack hair follicles. Patients do respond differently to treatments, and some chemotherapy medications are gentler meaning that hair loss won’t necessarily occur. Possible outcomes include complete hair loss, mild thinning or in some cases patients won’t notice any difference at all.


On a positive note, hair loss caused by chemotherapy is only temporary; following treatment, you can expect your hair to grow back within three to ten months although it may have altered in texture or colour, for example, your post-treatment hair may be curly, straight, or even grey.


Radiotherapy is a targeted treatment and therefore you will usually only experience hair loss in the part of the body that the radiation beam hits. You can expect your hair to regrow six months after treatment has ended, but as with chemotherapy there’s a chance that your locks may have altered in appearance. In some cases, there is a slight risk that your hair will not return at all.

Pattern Baldness

Although typically associated with men, pattern baldness is linked to both sexes, although it is more common in men. The NHS states that half of all men will be affected by male pattern baldness by the time they turn fifty years old, although this can start as early as the late twenties or early thirties. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery explains that 40% of men experience noticeable hair loss by the age of 35 years old. Male pattern baldness usually begins with a receding hairline, followed by thinning of hair around the crown and temple areas. In some cases, you can expect complete baldness which society is accustomed to seeing in men. But what causes it? Male pattern baldness is known to be hereditary and is the result of oversensitive hair follicles that react to a by-product of the testosterone hormone. Female pattern baldness is a type of hair loss called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia (APA). For women aged 65 and older, it’s the most common form of hair loss and impacts approximately 50% of the female population; however, as female pattern baldness is caused by genetic and hormonal factors, it can also occur in younger women too. Affected women can expect hair loss around the crown of the head.

Post-partum hair loss

If your hair is falling out after having a baby, don’t despair as this is usually quite normal. As many as 90% of new mums experience postpartum alopecia in the months following birth. It is normal to shed a large volume of hair due to the radical changes in hormone levels and you may even notice bald patches too.
During pregnancy, your body will produce high levels of estrogen and progesterone, resulting in your hair going through a process of continuous growth. In a non-pregnant hair cycle, your hair would usually fall out and replenish simultaneously, but pregnancy hair just keeps growing. This comes to a sudden end once you have given birth, and you can expect to lose up to 400 hairs per day, in comparison to a non-pregnant person’s 100 strands a day.
In many cases, the shedding stage of postpartum hair loss will complete after about six months. However, if you notice that your hair is still thinning after this stage, then it’s a good idea to arrange a consultation with your GP. They may arrange bloodwork for a thyroid function test or check the levels of ferritin in your blood which is connected to how your body stores iron.
In terms of treatment, medication can help to provide more balance to your hormones which can halt excess hair loss in its tracks. In the meantime, make sure that you’re getting enough essential nutrients to keep your reserves stocked, especially if you’re not sleeping well and are breastfeeding. It may be easier said than done with a little one in tow, but it’s also critical that you take steps to relieve stress, otherwise your body may feel depleted. Accept offers of help, try to eat healthily and take naps where you can, to conserve your energy.

Birth control

Oral contraceptives are a common form of family planning amongst women of reproductive age. Although the majority of women who take birth control pills will not go on to experience alopecia, there are some interesting links between hormone imbalances and hair loss which you might want to know about. Contraceptive pills purposefully contain hormones that are known to disrupt the body’s reproductive system to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The most popular types of birth control pill include the mini pill, which contains a synthetic type of progesterone, and the combination pill, including both estrogen and progesterone. Both birth control options can cause side effects including an increased risk of alopecia. This is more likely if there’s also a history of hair loss in the family. In a normal hair cycle, the active phase of hair growth is known as anagen, and this can last for two to seven years. Catagen occurs when your hair stops growing between ten and twenty days. The final phase of a hair cycle is called telogen, which is a resting phase that lasts up to 100 days. It’s important to note that each follicle is on its own individual journey, meaning that there will a balance of loss and growth in a healthy cycle. But birth control pills can disrupt this cycle and force a move to the resting phase of telogen too quickly and to stay there for too long. If you notice a link between the contraceptive pill and hair loss, it’s important to speak to a GP as soon as possible to discuss switching to a different form of birth control instead. Medication including progesterone is associated with hair loss more than those with estrogen, so the combination pill may be a better fit for you than the progesterone-only minipill for example.

Thyroid problems

There are two main types of thyroid disorders, which are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism. This can have a knock-on effect with your hair growth cycle. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed when the body produces too many thyroid hormones, resulting in numerous physical symptoms including sweating, twitching, and thinning of scalp hair. Although these thyroid conditions are opposite to each other, they both have a pronounced impact on the hair’s growth and renewal processes. When the balance is impacted due to thyroid problems, your hair follicles may enter the telogen stage where all your follicles are placed into a resting phase. If there is no growth to counter the hair loss, that’s when thinning can become noticeable across the scalp. Thyroid conditions are easily treated with medication but be aware that drugs containing carbimazole or propylthiouracil can experience increased hair loss. A better option may be to take radioiodine which isn’t associated with thinning.

Menopause

Menopause occurs when female estrogen levels decline at the end of their reproductive years. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51 according to the NHS. However, many women start to experience strong symptoms during the perimenopause, which are the years leading up to menopause. Changes in physical appearance are common during the menopause which can be challenging as body image is an important part of a woman’s self-identity. Hair loss is just one of these body changes; you might notice that your brush is filling up more quickly, that your shower drain is becoming blocked, or just that you can see your scalp more easily. Around 40% of women notice hair loss after the menopause, and two thirds of these experience this across the entire scalp. The remaining third lose hair only at the front or the temples. So, why does this happen? Just as the skin is prone to ageing, so is your hair, with your follicles shrinking from the mid-40s onwards. This means that your hair will become finer over the years, and the number of follicles decreases also. As estrogen supports hair growth, you’ll notice a fast shrinkage in hair follicles once this important hormone starts to wane. There are many ways to support your hormones during both perimenopause and menopause including HRT and natural therapies too. Your GP will be able to guide you towards the right treatment depending on the symptoms you’re presenting with.

Covid-19

Although the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 typically last for 10-14 days, a proportion of patients experience long Covid which can impact their quality of life in the months that follow. The Covid Symptom Study app has collated data revealing that 10% of people who test positive for coronavirus will experience symptoms up to 3 months later. These can range from fatigue and respiratory problems to more unusual side-effects including hair loss. This is backed up by The Belgravia Centre which has noticed a rapid increase in telogen effluvium cases during the pandemic, which can occur in response to an imbalance in the hair growth cycle. In their own study, 64% of male patients diagnosed with telogen effluvium during June and July of 2020, also presented with Covid symptoms too. This was also the case with 38% of women suffering with both hair loss and coronavirus. It’s suggested that Covid places extreme stress on the body, so therefore shuts down the hair follicles temporarily to prioritise the fight against the virus.

If you believe that you’re experiencing hair loss, for any reason, it’s important to get in touch with your GP or other health professional to discuss what could be wrong

The Secret Salon Academy Team

How to Cope with Hair Loss

Whether you’re male, female, old or young, hair loss can be distressing for anyone. As it is so closely linked to our self-identity, any changes to our appearance can feel unwelcome and out of our control.

If you believe that you’re experiencing hair loss, for any reason, it’s important to get in touch with your GP or other health professional to discuss what could be wrong.

It might be that there’s a simple imbalance in your body that is easily identified with a blood test and can be corrected with medication. In other cases, it may be that you need to adopt a trial-and-error approach to see if your hair thinning improves over time. Permanent hair loss can occur too, which can be emotionally challenging; however, there are a wealth of resources available to support you. Your GP will be able to suggest a range of charities, forums, or support groups where you can learn more about your hair loss and speak to people with shared experiences.
It’s critical that you involve your family and friends as much as possible, so that they’re able to encourage you socially. Remember that if you don’t feel comfortable embracing your changed appearance, then there are many ways that you can cover any bald or thinning spots on your head. Hair toppers are useful if you only need to hide a small area of your scalp, whilst hair extensions will allow you to add more volume and length to your look. Wigs offer a full replacement to provide you with the locks and confidence you need.


Contact The Secret Salon


Are you struggling with thinning hair? The Secret Salon offers hair loss experts who are trained to analyse your scalp and deliver a treatment to suit your specific appearance and lifestyle requirements. Your consultation is free of charge and with no obligation. Learn more about our hair replacement treatments by giving us a call on 0161 707 9390 or email us at thesecretsalonacademy@outlook.com