What’s making your hair fall out? There are several possibilities

Dr. Amir Koren from Ichilov Hospital explains what causes hair to fall out, when it should worry us, and what to do about it.

 A woman's hair comes out after brushing. Is she balding? (Illustrative) (photo credit: MAXPIXEL)
A woman's hair comes out after brushing. Is she balding? (Illustrative)
(photo credit: MAXPIXEL)

There are a variety of reasons for baldness and hair loss, and for most of them there’s nothing one can do, but there are also some habits you can completely change. Dr. Amir Koren was a guest on the podcast "Expert Clinic" to explain what exactly is happening to our heads.

Hair is a very important part of our self-confidence, which is probably why we’re preoccupied with it all the time. Dr. Amir Koren, the director of the hair clinic in the Dermatology Department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, spoke on "Expert Clinic" and explained what causes hair to fall out, when it should worry us, and of course what to do about it.

Dr. Koren said that people who come to the clinic "can be very frightened." He explained that hair loss and hair thinning "very dramatically affects self-esteem, one’s quality of life and it causes a lot of anxiety, much more so than situations that may seem to someone else to be more serious."

Causes of accelerated hair loss

Before listing common causes of baldness, we should also talk about "normal" hair loss that might cause concern when looking at a brush. When asked if the products we use cause hair loss, Koren replied that "regular shampoo usually doesn’t cause hair loss and baldness." And yet, as with most health issues, the answer is complex.

Koren explained that using certain shampoos with different chemical formulations can change the structure of the hair, and may cause hair to be dry and brittle. He also said that it’s best to not wash hair too much, preferably every two to three days which also prevents dryness. Also, high-temperature treatments such as a hair dryer on a high setting or straightening can change the structure of the hair and damage it.

If someone is losing a lot of hair, the cause can be stress, various diseases, major surgeries, or nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of iron, postpartum or thyroid disorders. Koren stated that if you're concerned about hair loss, consult a doctor. Some of the causes listed above can be corrected with medication, and there’s a good chance that the hair will grow back. 

Why are we balding?

There are many causes of baldness, the most common being hormonal or genetic hair loss, called androgenic hair loss because it’s related to the androgenic (i.e. male) hormones. Koren explained that in men, baldness starts at the forehead and temples, and can also manifest in the hairline, and slowly progresses towards the back of the scalp. For women, in most cases the front hairline is maintained, and the thinning is mainly in the part behind the front hairline, with an extension towards the middle hairline.

Such baldness is very common, especially in Israel, but there’s definitely a way to treat it. Koren suggested that one should go to a dermatologist when signs of baldness worry you and if you have any unusual medical symptoms. Koren stated that if the diagnosis is genetic hormonal hair loss, there are a variety of possible treatments such as medications taken by mouth and a treatment solution to be applied to the hair.

Of course there is also the option of hair transplants, which Koren said is a perfectly acceptable choice, but it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages. Koren explained that hair transplants are a procedure that are usually lengthy, but if the person is willing to undergo treatment, the scars these days are less significant and hidden in the hair. One should also know that not all cases are successful, but if the condition really bothers you it’s a treatment option. 

There are also other treatments available today such as injections of PRP - a deposit of growth factors from the patient's blood, or of stem cells or cells that improve the process, but it’s still not absolutely known if these are effective methods.