Hair Loss In Teens: Causes, Signs, and How to Treat It
When hair loss happens – at any age – the shock and disappointment can be overwhelming. However, for those whose hair loss starts at an unusually young age, (whilst still a teenager) these emotions can be further complicated by the stigma.
In this post, I’ll discuss the topic of teen hair loss. I’ll take a look at the most common causes, as well as signs to beware of.
In addition, I’ll share with you four ways you can begin to combat hair loss and regrow your hair.
At the end of this article is a 6 part quiz that I recommend you take to find out more about your type of early hair loss.
The Top 7 Causes of Hair Loss in Teens
From adolescence to adulthood, the changes that take place in a teen’s body can be astounding. Not only are they maturing physically, mentally, and emotionally, but these changes are caused by a surge of hormones which can further boost their maturation.
As hormones naturally surge in the teen years, this is also a time for hormone-related conditions to awaken. These can include Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disease, and lupus.
The physical and emotional changes experienced by teens can cause immeasurable stress. This can lead to hair loss, or actions that cause hair loss (such as anxiety-induced hair pulling).
One of the more interesting causes of stress-induced hair loss is lack of oxygen to the dermal papilla. The dermal papilla is a structure at the very bottom of the hair bulb that contains bundles of blood vessels.
These vessels work to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle and the strands.
When you’re stressed, shallow breathing is a common phenomenon. As such, less oxygen is taken into your body and, therefore, less can be delivered to the hair.
This means your hair is being deprived of a vital element, and it also means less waste (CO2) is being removed from the scalp).
From Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to severe acne to depression, there are a number of conditions that may require teens take a prescribed medication.
While these medications can certainly help the condition they were prescribed for, they can also cause unpleasant side effects, such as hair loss.
Of course, I do not recommend ceasing a necessary medication without the approval of your doctor. However, I do urge you to speak with your doctor about the side effects you’re experiencing, as they may be able to help.
4. Nutrient Deficiencies
Unfortunately for many teenagers, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet isn’t their forte. While the majority will make it through their teen years unscathed and with no long-lasting effects, a significant enough deficiency can lead to present issues.
5. Traction Alopecia
A form of hair loss that is caused by over-styling of the hair, traction alopecia is a common (but completely reversible) form of hair loss in teenagers and young adults.
Essentially, traction occurs when the hair is pulled back into tight hairstyles or over-styled with the use of harsh chemicals (such as relaxers and dyes). Headgear (such as helmets, headphones, and masks) can also cause traction alopecia.
6. Androgenetic Alopecia
While Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), is more likely to occur in men over the age of 35, about 25% of men who suffer from MPB will begin to see signs by the age of 21.
This is a condition with many factors, though genetics plays a large role in the development and early-age expression. So if your dad, your mum’s dad, uncles and grandfathers have it, then you might have it as well.
In addition, females can also suffer from this condition, though in fewer numbers.
7. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes patchy (typically circular) hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body where hair growth occurs.
This form of hair loss can be present within males and females and at any age, but it’s more likely to crop up during times of stress or hormonal surges.
As an autoimmune disorder, the development of AA depends on many factors, including: genetic, environmental, hormonal, and immunological. This is why certain individuals may be more susceptible to AA.
As you can imagine, the stress and hormonal changes occurring within our early years makes this the perfect time for AA to trigger. This can mean sudden patchy hair loss for sufferers.
Early Signs of Teen Hair Loss
When you suffer from hair loss, your chances of stopping the loss and reversing it are significantly improved the sooner you begin treatment. This is why it’s crucial that you know the early warning signs of hair loss.
A Receding Hairline (in Males)
As you age, there are two types of hairlines to be aware of: a maturing hairline, and a receding one. A maturing hairline is natural and begins to take shape in adolescence and young adulthood.
However, a receding hairline is one that signals a deeper issue.
So, how can you tell the difference? The main way to tell is by studying the recession pattern.
An even hairline – one which keeps a consistent line from temple to temple – is the main sign of a maturing hairline. An uneven hairline – one that gets deeper within the temple regions – is a sign of a receding hairline (unless you have a natural widow’s peak, which further complicates the issue).
(Learn more about the difference between a maturing hairline and a receding hairline here.)
A Thinning Crown (in Females)
Unlike men, who tend to experience early-stage hair loss in the temples and forehead, women typically experience hair loss at the crown.
At first, such hair loss can go unnoticed. This is especially true if you have thick or voluminous hair. However, as thinning continues, the scalp will become more visible and the hair will become thin and wispy.
Noticeable Loss on Pillow and in Drain
One of the first signs of thinning and loss that hair loss sufferers notice is fallen strands of hair on their pillow in the morning and in the drain after showering.
Of course, this happens to essentially everyone. However, the difference is in how much you’re shedding and how quickly the shed hairs are being replaced.
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