Using something up top isn’t just a fashion choice or an expression of modern-day capriciousness. While Rihanna, Beyoncé and Elton John may change their hair like they change their shoes, others, such as John Travolta, Matthew McConaughey and Robbie Williams, have turned to hair transplants and wigs to deal with hair loss. But what are the reasons behind hair loss?
Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, is by far the most common cause of hair loss, and is experienced at some point by almost three quarters of men and close to half of women. Androgenic hormones cause hair follicles to shrink, and in men this typically results in thinning and loss of hair at the temples and top of the scalp, while women often experience generalised thinning without necessarily showing any bald patches. Male pattern baldness is largely hereditary, although external factors also have an influence.
Another cause of hair loss is an unbalanced diet. When too little iron is present in a person’s diet, it can result in a number of classic symptoms, such as fatigue, twitches and brittle or grooved nails. It can also lead to iron deficiency anaemia, which normally equates to a low red blood cell count, or lack of haemoglobin. Hair loss is another typical symptom of iron deficiency, so if you spot signs of thinning, you should consider incorporating more iron-rich foods into your diet, such as green-leaf vegetables, lentils, beans, red meat, chicken, fish and fortified cereals – not just for your hair, but for your general health, too. You might also consider taking some iron supplements.
Also, many people turn to wigs when they lose hair as a result of spot baldness, or alopecia areata. Here, any part of the body may be affected as cells, not recognising their own body tissue, attack the hair follicles, causing either reversible – with hair growing backs within a few months or a year – or irreversible damage. This condition is often hereditary and can occur at any age. Early symptoms are small bald patches, most commonly anywhere on the head or beard. These patches may also be sensitive and even painful.
An additional common cause of hair loss is excessive styling. Regular treatments, such as bleaching, colouring and heating can cause temporary damage to the hair. The first steps here are to stop shampooing so regularly, avoid using chemical-rich products and brush gently. Of course, since styling can bring on hair loss, it is another reason why people, particularly female celebrities, may choose to wear a wig; rather than potentially cause damage by heavily styling their hair every other day, they can use a wig instead, achieve the look they are after, and successfully avoid any possible harm to their hair.