Hair loss and alopecia
Losing up to 100 hairs a day is a normal process in which the scalp and hair follicles renew themselves from the inside and the hair grows back evenly. Increased or persistent hair loss (effluvium; defluvium) can lead to baldness (alopecia). The causes include hormonal changes, medication, metabolic disorders and nutritional deficiencies in question. The observed infestation pattern can sometimes give clues to the cause. The negative social and psychological effects that alopecia and baldness can have (reactive depression) should not be underestimated.
Causes of diffuse hair loss
Diffuse hair loss (without a specific infestation pattern) can have numerous reasons and accompany e.g. Thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, liver disease and chronic infections. Temporary hair loss is also often observed during and after pregnancy. Medicinal treatments that cause alopecia include chemotherapy for cancer, medicines to lower blood lipids, or the use of ovulation inhibitors for contraception (“pill”). Aggressive shampoos and hair dyes, styling agents and hot hair dryers disrupt the natural regeneration cycle of the scalp and hair.
Other possible triggers for hair loss are:
- Heavy metal poisoning (especially mercury, arsenic, thallium)
- a lack of minerals and vitamins due to a one-sided diet or a reduced absorption capacity of nutrients (malassimilation syndrome)
- excessive consumption of alcohol or other drugs
- poor scalp blood flow
- physical or emotional stress
Genetically predetermined: hair loss in men
The probably most common hair loss in men, which begins in the temple area as "receding hairline" and - often already in the twenties - can lead to complete baldness over the parting is called "androgenetic alopecia". This form is less common in women, with hair typically thinning along the parting. In both cases, it is a form of hair loss that is triggered by a predisposition to hypersensitivity of the hair follicles to the male sex hormones (androgens).
Specifically, it is about the metabolic product "dihydrotestosterone" (DHT), which is formed from the body's own male sex hormone testosterone. The increased effect of the DHT leads to a reduction in the size of the hair follicles, which shortens the growth phase of the hair and makes them fall out faster. Each renewable hair is then thinner and smaller (miniaturization) until the hair root finally dies. When the hair follicles are sensitive to the DHT can vary from region to region. Therefore, 18 receding hairline corners can already arise, while the top hair at the top only fails with over 30.
Androgenetic alopecia (Alopecia androgenetica, in short: AGA) therefore represents a genetically predetermined loss of hair. The genes through which AGA is inherited are currently still unknown. What is certain, however, is that there are several, so it cannot be predicted how hair loss will develop over the course of a lifetime. Accordingly, this can occur earlier or later and can be both stronger and weaker than, for example, the father who is also affected.
Bald spots in the forehead and crown area
Bald spots in the forehead and part of the apex mainly occur. in women through continuous pulling with excessive brushing and "ponytail" hairstyles. Such mechanically induced baldness is therefore called “Zugalopecia” or “mechanical alopecia”. This can e.g. This is also caused by tight headgear such as headbands, hats or protective helmets, as well as by lying for a long time, in which the head is always held in the same position (e.g. for infants or people in need of care).
Children also tend to have compulsive plucking and tearing (trichotillomania) with blurred, hairless areas on the head. In addition to bald spots, there are hair stubs of different lengths.
Circular hair loss
A special form is the circular hair loss (Alopecia areata), which shows up in almost circular places with stub-like residual hair. This phenomenon is often found in adolescence and occurs in families. There are often associations with thyroid disorders, but alopecia areata is also seen as an expression of larval depression.
Treatment options for falling hair
There are no effective measures to prevent androgenetic alopecia. Because this is not due to stress, nutritional disorders, infections or poisoning, but inherited. A change in lifestyle and diet can therefore not affect the course. The selection of care products, frequency of hair cutting and taking e.g. Vitamin preparations, silica or yeast tablets are therefore insignificant.
If the hair loss is detected early, it can be treated quite well in many cases. New drugs (e.g. minoxidil) can help stop hair loss. If this is unsuccessful and / or if the level of suffering is very high, a wig or toupee or hair transplantation can also be considered.
Mechanical alopecia, on the other hand, is usually easy to treat and cure by very simple measures. Women should especially pay attention to loose-fitting hairstyles and as far as possible avoid heat treatments with a hair dryer and flat iron.
Medications (e.g. antidepressants) and psychotherapeutic measures are used to treat trichotillomania. Behavioral therapy has proven to be very effective, in which those affected learn to resist the inner “plucking impulse” with the help of substitute actions. Support and acceptance by parents or caregivers is particularly important for children.
Natural home remedies for hair loss
Various home remedies for dry hair help get the problem under control. Treatments with hair oil provide e.g. fast for moisture, in addition, dry, brittle hair should always be washed with a shampoo without silicones and aggressive tensides.
A treatment with beer helps to strengthen the hair and can thus prevent hair loss. Mix 80 milliliters of beer, a tablespoon of olive oil and an egg yolk and apply the pack evenly to washed, slightly damp hair. Now massage the mixture gently into the tips and let the cure take effect for about 30 minutes. Then it is thoroughly washed out with lukewarm water.
A proven home remedy for hair loss is a rinse with lukewarm coffee, because the caffeine in it stimulates the circulation in the scalp and supports the growth of the hair. After washing the hair, the coffee is poured over the head and carefully rinsed out after a short exposure time.
Proper nutrition for hair loss
In order for the hair to stay healthy and not (further) fall out, it is important to pay attention to a healthy, balanced diet in general. This should contain plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products, legumes and fish and meat in moderation daily so that the hair receives all the nutrients it needs.
Lean meat, cereals and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or white beans are particularly suitable for providing the body with sufficient iron. Dried fruits, sesame and pumpkin seeds as well as green vegetables, such as kale or broccoli, also help to counter iron deficiency. Since vitamin C supports iron absorption, fresh berries, citrus fruits, rose hips and peppers should also be on the menu regularly.
In addition to that, beautiful, strong hair needs sufficient vitamin A, B vitamins and zinc. Much vitamin A is found in meat, offal, fish (eel), dairy products, eggs and intensely yellow, orange or green vegetables and fruit such as carrots, honeydew melon, spinach or kale.
The B group vitamins such as vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and B7 (biotin) are found, for example, in fish, poultry, soybeans, eggs, dairy products, mushrooms, legumes, green vegetables, peas and Contain lentils, nuts or bananas. Zinc is abundant, for example, in oysters, legumes, eggs, cheese and sunflower seeds. (jvs, nr;)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Wolff H, Fischer TW, Blume-Peytavi U: The diagnosis and treatment of hair and scalp diseases. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2016; 113: 377-86.DOI: 10.3238 / arztebl.2016.0377, (accessed August 27, 2019), aerzteblatt
- Wendy S. Levinbook: Alopecia, MSD Manual, (accessed Aug 27, 2019), MSD
- Wendy S. Levinbook: Alopecia Areata, MSD Manual, (accessed August 27, 2019), MSD
- Dorothea Terhorst-Molawi: Dermatologie Basics, Elsevier / Urban Fischer Verlag, 4th edition, 2015
- Wolfgang Raab: Hair disorders in dermatological practice, Springer Verlag, 2012
ICD codes for this disease: L65ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.