Alopecia/Hair Loss

   This is really distressing and can have quite a few causes. There are two main types:

Alopecia Areata is a hair-loss disease that affects men, women and children. The onset is often sudden, random and frequently recurrent. This one I see most frequently to do with stress, trauma and nutrient deficiency.

Androgenic Alopecia is most common in older men and women. It affects approximately 50% of men over 50 and 50% of women over 65. This is most likely the one being caused by a hormone imbalance, although it does occur as I’ve seen it in younger women with hormone issues such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).

Alopecia is generally thought to be an autoimmune disorder where the follicle is being self-attacked for some reason. As you’ll see below, gluten is a common trigger for this.

 

What Do You Look At For Hair Loss and Alopecia?

These are the main issues to consider when losing hair:

1. Hypothyroid. Do a full thyroid screen including reverse T3 and autoimmune antibodies; not just TSH and T4 levels. Read about thyroid illness on this A-Z and start maybe with the free basal temperature test on the shop.

2. Gluten illness: autoimmune attack on the follicles is a known problem and gluten is a common denominator in many autoimmune processes. Have a look here, for example, and here. Read more about gluten illness here on this site.

3. Nutritional deficiency, especially of zinc, Vit C, B vits, particularly biotin. Of course, the nutritional deficiency is sometimes secondary to the gluten causing malabsorption so gluten can be the real key. You can see more and how to test nutrients properly here.

4. Anaemia, especially of iron. Tip: Do not necessarily believe female ferritin levels of less than 70, especially if your ESR inflammation marker is high. And, again, anaemia is one of the key triggers clinically for investigating coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

5.  Upset androgen (male hormone) levels, especially of testosterone – too little in men and too much in women. You can do a simple testosterone check or a full female or male hormone profile. You can see all the hormone tests here.

Those are the first things I would investigate from a biochemical point of view anyway.

Of course, stress is a major factor too and an adrenal check would be good advice if you are feeling like you don’t cope as well with life as well as you used to. See the factsheet on Adrenal Fatigue.

The good news is that it is usually reversible or at least significantly improveable. You can get lots more info and support from Alopecia UK and I thought their FAQ was particularly good.

Hope that helps. Remember: it is very probably temporary so try not to worry.