Diffuse Hair Loss

Diffuse hair loss is not a condition per se, but more of a specific hair loss pattern. As the name indicates, diffuse hair loss does not occur on one specific spot; rather, it is the thinning of hair all over the head. While the thinning appears relatively even throughout the head, the back and sides tend to be resilient.

Diffuse hair loss affects people of all genders and age groups. However, it is more common in women than in men, and can severely dent an individual’s self-image. Hair, to most women, is a symbol of beauty; and the inability to follow through with the latest trends and fashion thanks to thinning and falling hair can trigger serious depression which can in return cause more hair loss. While hair loss due to death of aging hair is a natural process, it becomes a serious issue when the rate at which you are losing hair is greater than the replacement rate. This increase in loss over the head is what is referred to as diffuse hair loss.

Possible causes of diffuse hair loss

Diffuse hair loss can be triggered by many different factors. Here are some of them.

1. Severe physical stress

Any form of mental or physical stress on the body that compels you to take to bed rest for some days can trigger hair loss. For example, excessive fever that is caused by diseases such as malaria or typhoid, severe trauma, major surgery, and bereavement, can all trigger hair loss.

2. Chronic physical stress

Any debilitating medical condition can impact nutrient supply to your hair resulting in hair loss. Such medical conditions include chronic kidney issues, cancer, tuberculosis, and liver disease.

3. Hormonal fluctuations

Hormones play a key role in maintaining hair health and cycle. Thus, hyper or hypothyroidism, discontinuation of hormone-based contraceptives, and even hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and child birth can trigger hair loss. Most mothers experience diffuse hair loss 3-6 months after delivery and it usually stops upon cessation of breastfeeding.

4. Poor diet

Any voluntary or compulsory compromise on your diet, especially proteins, minerals like zinc and iron, and vitamins like biotin, can trigger hair loss. Thus, diffuse hair loss is common among people who take to crash dieting or who have lost their appetite due to an underlying medical condition, or those who do not have a balanced and wholesome diet.

5. Certain medications

Numerous diseases can compromise the health of your hair. These include cancers, skin diseases, and various chronic diseases like rheumatism and diabetes. Certain medications too can trigger diffuse hair loss, often as a side effect. These include drugs used for treating thyroid disorders, psychiatric conditions, hormonal imbalances, and high blood pressure. Most often, hair loss due to medication becomes visible within weeks of taking such drugs. However, the good news is most medication-triggered hair losses are temporary and you will always grow your hair back after stopping the medication.

6. Idiopathic

Idiopathic hair fall is defined as hair loss whose root cause cannot be clearly established. Such cases are common in women at the age of 40-70 who notice sudden thinning and shredding of hair leading to diffuse thinning all over the scalp.

Regardless of the cause, diffuse hair loss takes a similar pattern: there is a disruption of the activity at the hair root. This results in disruption in the hair’s growth cycle, and eventual hair loss.

Common signs of diffuse hair loss

  • Gradual thinning at the top of the head
  • Patchy or circular bald spots
  • Sudden loosening of hair
  • Patches of scaling that are distributed all over the scalp
  • Full-body hair loss
  • Managing diffuse hair loss

Here are simple tips for managing diffuse hair loss.

1. Take supplements
Supplementing your diet with a strong dose of vitamin B complex can help repair your energy and metabolism levels. The key to getting your metabolism back and working as it should when you are malnourished for whatever reason, including the ones mentioned above, is to supplement your diet with multivitamins.

2. Manage your stress levels
As already indicated, stress and anxiety play a vital role in hair loss. Be sure to control your stress levels as much as you can. Seeking third party or professional help may be necessary when you are overwhelmed by the stresses of life.

3. Proper diet
Junk food may taste great. However, if you want to do justice to your hair, and overall health, consider giving up junk food for a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Other diffuse hair loss management practices include:

  • Giving up synthetic shampoos for natural ones
  • Regular exercising for good physical, mental, and emotional health
  • Use of hair growth medications

Common diffuse hair loss FAQs

What are the risk factors for diffuse hair loss?

A number of factors can increase your risk of suffering from diffuse hair loss. Here are some of them.

  • Genetics
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Age
  • Certain medications such as antidepressants
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Alcoholism

Is diffuse hair loss reversible?

Yes, diffuse hair loss can be reversed by establishing and addressing its cause. For instance, reversing diffuse hair loss that is triggered by physical changes like pregnancy is quite easy: just give the body time to adjust.

How can I prevent diffuse hair loss?

Here are simple tips that can help you avoid diffuse hair loss:

  • Avoid tight hairstyles like ponytails, buns, and braids.
  • Avoid compulsive and frequent rubbing, twisting, and pulling of your hair
  • Handle your hair gently when brushing and washing.
  • Avoid harsh hair treatments like curling irons, hot rollers, permanents, and hot oil treatment
  • Avoid drugs and supplements that trigger hair loss
  • Protect your hair from UV radiation
  • Quit smoking. Some studies have found a link between smoking and hair thinning
  • Ask your physician for a cooling cap if you are undergoing chemotherapy. This cap can reduce your risk of hair loss during chemotherapy.

Diffuse hair loss can affect both men and women of any age group. Any disruption to the hair’s normal life cycle can trigger diffuse hair loss. These include a variety of emotional, psychological, nutritional, and hormonal causes. Establishing the trigger, and thereafter recommending treatment, of your hair loss requires a comprehensive examination of your medical history. Most important, patient education is the key to preventing and/or managing diffuse hair loss.