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Hair Loss Symptoms

Alopecia, or hair loss, can affect your scalp or other parts of the body. Many reasons can cause hair loss. Depending on the cause, signs, and symptoms of hair thinning or hair loss also differ, as well as their appearance.

Although it is completely normal to lose some hair on a daily basis, if you lose more hair than usual, you will probably notice it.

In most cases, a person first notices a large amount of hair on the hairbrush or in the tub drain after washing their hair. They also see their hair is either becoming thinner or missing. The hairline may change, or bald patches may appear. If your doctor takes a thorough history of signs and symptoms, they may point out the cause and treat the hair loss accordingly.

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss may appear in the form of different types, varying from hair thinning to complete baldness. The most common cause of hair loss is genetics, in both men and women, causing male- and female- pattern baldness, respectively.

If a man notices gradual thinning of the hair in their hairline (the frontal part of the head), known as receding hairline, this is usually the first sign of male-pattern hair loss. A person will then probably notice vertex hair thinning and temple hair loss. This type of hair loss may progress further with crown baldness or facial hair loss too. Eventually, if left untreated, this leads to the classic horseshoe “cul-de-sac” pattern, in which the top of the scalp is completely bald with the remaining hairs on the sides of the head.

Hereditary hair loss in women leads to female-pattern hair loss. A woman may observe some broadening in the hair, mainly on the top of the scalp. There is diffuse hair thinning because of the increased hair shedding or hair volume reduction. Hairline usually remains intact.

One may experience generalized hair thinning in the condition named telogen effluvium. It differs from other forms of hair thinning by the small white keratin lump at the root of the hair, which fell out. A person may experience diffuse hair thinning, mainly at the top of the head. In very rare cases, there might be a hairline recession.

Entire scalp balding may also occur in some types of hair loss, mostly as a part of some medical conditions or as a side-effect of some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, or in chronic physical or emotional stress. Even total-body hair loss may occur in that cases, but men are more susceptible to losing hair in some body parts. Beard, for example, is one of the areas affected by balding. Beard balding may occur as complete balding or with bald spots or patches in the case of alopecia barbae. These bald spots can be found anywhere on the body where the hair grows on the body, as a part of alopecia universalis. However, these bald patches are primarily located on the scalp (alopecia areata) and the facial hair. 

If the hair patches occur with scarring, then the person may be experiencing scarring alopecia. In this case, there is an irreversible, permanent hair loss together with the hair follicles, which are then replaced with scar tissue. It can develop slowly with very small bald patches, which gradually expand. However, it almost never extends to the entire scalp. On the other hand, if it progresses faster, it is usually accompanied by pain or itching.

The hairline can also be recessed in traction alopecia which occurs when the pulling forces or tension are applied to hair. This type of gradual hair loss in the frontal part of the head occurs when a person frequently wears their hair tightly in ponytails, braids, or pigtails. Besides the hairline recession, typically around the forehead, nape, or temples, some redness may also appear.

Causes of hair loss symptoms

The causes of hair loss are various. Some of them are related to temporary hair loss, while some may lead to permanent hair loss.

The cause of your hair loss can determine whether your hair will fall out gradually or abruptly, or it will thin, whether it could regrow on its own, or will require treatment or immediate care to prevent further or permanent hair loss. The hair loss can be caused by: