Scalp Problems - Topic Overview
Many people have hair or scalp problems.
Hair may thin or fall out, break off, or
grow slowly. Dandruff or an itching or peeling scalp
may cause embarrassment and discomfort. Hair and scalp problems can be
upsetting, but they usually are not caused by serious medical problems.
Hair loss, including thinning and breaking,
is the most common scalp problem. Most people lose from 50 to 100 hairs per
Hair gradually thins as people age, although not all people
are affected to the same degree. Hereditary thinning or balding is the most
common cause of thinning hair. You can inherit this from either your mother's
or father's side of the family. Women with this trait develop thinning hair,
while men may become completely bald. The condition can start in the teens,
20s, or 30s.
Babies often lose their fine baby hair, which is then
replaced by mature hair. Because of changes in hormones, women often lose hair
for 1 to 6 months after childbirth or after breast-feeding is completed.
Other possible causes for excessive hair loss, thinning, or
- Damage to the hair from hair care products,
such as dyes and permanents, and from hot rollers, curling irons, or hair
- Hair-pulling or hair-twisting habits. Trichotillomania is a
mental health problem in which a person pulls out his or her own hair, usually
from the head, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
- Side effects of medicines
or medical treatments, such as
- Recent surgery, high
fever, or emotional stress. You may have a lot of hair loss 4 weeks to 3 months
after severe physical or emotional stress. This type of hair loss usually stops
within a few months.
- Diseases, such as
- Heavy metal poisoning,
such as thallium or arsenic poisoning.
- Poor nutrition, especially
lack of protein or iron in the diet.
- Damage to the hair shafts
from burns or other injuries.