A tingling or itchy scalp could be signs your hair is about to fall out, according to experts.
The pins-and-needles-like discomfort is often an ‘under-diagnosed sign’ of conditions that cause hair loss.
Leading hair restoration surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo has warned of a symptom called Trichodynia – where stinging, tingling and burning on the scalp is directly linked to alopecia.
Dr Farjo, founder of the Farjo Hair Institute which is based in London and Manchester, said: “Trichodynia has been linked to alopecia – a general term for conditions which cause hair loss.
“A wide range of factors can cause tingling or prickling on the scalp – medically known as paresthesia – for example skin conditions, head lice or nerve issues.
“But paresthesia on the scalp has also been linked specifically to hair loss – and can result from conditions such as alopecia areata and telogen effluvium.
“The sensations can be as a result of losing hair or feeling the effects of damaged or irritated hair follicles which can then fall out.”
When hair follicles are damaged or irritated it can cause areas of hair thinning on the scalp. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune inflammatory condition of the hair follicle and can affect people at any age.
Those with the condition often get small, coin-sizes patches of baldness on the scalp. According to Dr Farjo, who is a member of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery, regrowth of the hair is possible – depending on how much is lost.
“Alopecia areata differs from common pattern baldness, known as androgenetic alopecia, in that it’s not just caused by hormones or genetics – though that can be a factor,” added Dr Farjo.
“Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss which usually occurs at the top of the scalp – and is caused by factors like, shock, stress and poor diet.”
While a person with telogen effluvium may lose a lot of hair – it can grow back. Dr Farjo said the symptom Trichodynia is under-diagnosed.
He added: “The NHS advises people to see their GP if they experience itching or burning on the scalp. “But still, trichodynia is not often-enough associated with hair loss diseases.
“People often put this kind of discomfort down to the use of chemical or cosmetic products – which of course can be factors – and don’t bother seeking advice.
“The health of your hair is also inextricably linked with your overall health, with your diet and lifestyle – including things like stress and trauma – playing a role.
“Not getting enough of key nutrients like iron, zinc, protein and B Vitamins can affect the condition of a person’s hair and can be a direct cause of conditions like telogen effluvium.”