Teenage Hair Loss Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Teenage Hair Loss
We often consider ‘hair loss’ with young children or adults, particularly gentlemen who experience male pattern baldness. However, it is common for teenagers to also experience symptoms of thinning, balding, or shedding. When this occurs, hair loss can cause a reduction in self-esteem, confidence, and social life.
If you are a teenager (or parent of) reading this and you notice signs of hair loss, you are not alone. There is a growing population of boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 19 who share your concerns, and there are a variety of treatments available to you and following a consultation: advice on lifestyle changes, grooming habits and in some cases supplement advice that will improve the health of your hair.
What causes teen hair loss?
There are many possible reasons but here are a few to give you examples:
Alopecia Areata is an auto immune condition which causes a specific type of hair loss patch that often occurs in , rounded areas (although not always). It may occur on the scalp or on other portions of the body such as the beard area. Alopecia Areata may be a solitary patch or perhaps located in several areas of the scalp. Patches of hair loss may simultaneously occur on the crown of the head, the sides of the head, and on the arm.
It is estimated that somewhere between 1% of the population suffer with Alopecia Areata, including teenagers. For individuals who are affected by this condition, emphasis within the consultation, treatment and management of this hair loss is on the emotional and psychological health of the patient as these are often the cause or exacerbate.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Androgen Dependant Alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss, affecting an estimated 25% of the population. This type of pattern baldness effects pre disposed individuals from the age of puberty and therefore includes teenagers.
The condition will often start with the temple region receding and the hairs within this region appearing finer and the scalp becoming more visible. This obviously is hugely distressing to any man, particularly for those increasingly aware of appearance and confidence challenges that being teen age brings.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
This condition presents as a change in the density of the upper region of the hair compared to the sides and the rear, it can feel much finer and look quite transparent. This applies to patients from the age of puberty on, so the definition supplied here applies to adults too.
Affected follicles produce shorter and finer hairs gradually with each growth cycle, until growth ceases. The hair loss is often first noticed as receding temples, and gradually the scalp becomes more visible in the top and crown areas. The exact pattern of loss will tend to run in families. The progression of the condition is always gradual, no matter what one may perceive, and is not associated with an increase in daily hair shedding. Patients describe the hair as looking “transparent and see through” and find it difficult to style the hair in order to mask the appearance.
Medical Conditions / Hormone Imbalances
Certain medications have side effects of alopecia depending on the dosage and the pre-existing medical condition it is prescribed for.
Thyroid disorder effects the hair, having an over active thyroid doesn’t directly affect the hair but hypothyroidism most certainly does. In fact, Trichologists often see markers of undiagnosed conditions during consultation! It is possible to have more than one of the above mentioned factors to blame, but an accurate diagnosis is essential in treating.
Polysistic Ovarian Syndrome
This condition effects girls of menstruating age and can cause hair loss in teen girls as well as adult women. Hormone imbalances play a large part in the hair growth and various genetic pre dispositions are influenced particularly by increased levels of testosterone. These can be discussed in a consultation and where appropriate referrals can be made, or investigations can be arranges to help identify if this applies to you.
Traction Alopecia often occurs from the hair being pulled back tightly particularly in those in a bunch or hair bun for example. However it is mostly often seen within the afro-Caribbean community who traditionally braide their hair often from childhood. This can also cause a specific form of scarring hair loss known as Central Centrifugal Alopecia. This obviously effects children, teens and adults alike.
As they are hugely popular with teenagers, in the past hair extensions, also caused considerable traction on the hair however, techniques have vastly improved and traction is minimal these days. If Traction Alopecia has occurred over several years this presents as most often in hairs lost along the front hairline.
The pulling on the follicles caused by Traction Alopecia from hair extensions, if of short duration, with sufficient and through counselling of hair care- can be halted and reversed. However if the choice of hair piece has been worn for many years without a break in between or superior enough treatment applied, unfortunately the thinning and patches of loss may be permanent.
This can be compared to when eyebrow hair is plucked out for years, eventually the follicle will stop producing the same quality of hair if at all.
Unconscious Hair Pulling and Plucking
Unconscious hair pulling or plucking can often be a habit formed in childhood where “twiddling” turns into something more harmful to the hair. This condition is called Trichotillomania. A psychological disorder, Trichotillomania occurs when the individual pulls their hair until it is uprooted, often leaving large areas of thin hair, damaged follicles, or total baldness. When this condition results from aggressive styling it results in the hair being lost, typically occurring along the hair line, this is common among teenage boys and girls, depending on the frequency and intensity with how the hair is worn tightly pulled back. If of long duration the hair may be permanently lost.
As trichology is considered to be a holistic practice a significant part of the initial consultation is advising on the importance of good nutrition.
After the cells in the intestines the scalp hair cells are the most prolific, in their rapidity of division in the body. The clear benefit to well-balanced nutrition is good health and as a result and also as a barometer of health, the hair, skin and nails should reflect this.
The hair is considered to be “non-essential tissue” therefore in disease or if the diet is lacking nutrients, the body will prioritise the stored energy for the vital organs. There are many dietry deficiencies and influences that cause specific trichological conditions, therefore correcting and adjusting what we eat could actually should be considered part of the treatment.