Partial or complete loss of hair from scalp is called alopecia. Hair loss is quite common these days. A person loses 100-150 strands of hair daily, which is normal. But losing more than that can actually be a reason of concern. Hair loss is usually associated with poor eating habits, deficiencies of important nutrients or some internal diseases. Other conditions like severe stress, infections, and hormonal changes like those in puberty, pregnancy or menopause can also be the reason of hair fall.
How it occurs
Alopecia or hair loss usually develops slowly with time and may be patchy or all over (diffuse). We lose about 100 hair from our head each day. An average human scalp has about 100,000 hair.
Men and women both tend to lose hair thickness and density with age. Baldness is usually not caused by any disease. It is because of certain factors like aging, heredity, and hormonal changes, like testosterone or estrogens. Inherited or “pattern baldness” affects more men than women. About one-half of men begin to lose hair by the age of 30, and most turn either bald or develop a balding pattern by the age of 60.
A sudden physical or emotional stress can lead to one-half to three-quarters of the hair to fall throughout your scalp (called Telogen effluvium). One can notice hair coming out in handfuls while they shampoo, comb, or run their hands through the hair. It remains unnoticed for weeks to months after the stress takes place. The hair falling decreases over a period of 6 – 8 months.
Cause of this type of hair loss are:
- High fever or severe infection
- Major surgery, major illness, sudden blood loss
- Severe emotional stress
- Crash diets, especially those that do not contain enough protein
- A number of medications, including birth control pills, retinoids, beta-blockers, certain antidepressants, Painkillers(including ibuprofen) and calcium channel blockers
Some women aged between 30-60 notice a characteristic thinning of the hair that eventually affects the whole scalp. The hair loss might be high at first, and then gradually decline or stop. There is no known cause for this type of hair loss.
Other possible causes of hair loss, especially if it is in an unusual pattern, include:
Alopecia Areata—In such a type, bald patches develop on the scalp, beard, and sometimes the eyebrows. Eyelashes may fall out as well.
Other causes can be:
- Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
- Infectious diseases like syphilis
- Excessive shampooing and blow-drying
- Hormone changes
- Nervous habits like continued hair pulling or scalp rubbing
- Taenia capitis (ringworm of the scalp)
- Tumor of the ovary or adrenal glands
Types of Hairloss
1) Patterned Baldness or Androgenic Alopecia
Androgenetic alopecia can be defined as a common form of hair loss that occurs in both men and women. In men, such a condition is also known as male-pattern baldness. Hair fall occurs in a well-defined pattern, starting from both temples. As time passes, the hairline recedes forming a characteristic “M” shape. Hair also shows thinning at the top of the head, often leading to partial or complete baldness.
The pattern of hair loss in women is different from males. In women, the hair firstly becomes thin all over the head, and the hairline does not recede. The Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to complete baldness.
Androgenetic alopecia in men has been linked to many other medical conditions including coronary heart disease and enlargement of the prostate, that is a walnut-sized gland in males located below the urinary bladder. Also, prostate cancer, disorders of insulin resistance (such as diabetes and obesity), and high blood pressure (hypertension) have been related to androgenetic alopecia. In women, the androgenetic alopecia is associated with improper levels of hormones that are caused due to menses, menopause and sometimes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A disease that is characterized by a hormonal imbalance that can lead to irregular menstruation, acne, excess growth of body hair (hirsutism), and weight gain.
Using expensive shampoos, conditioners or other medicines as a solution is a big NO! Instead, remedying your problem by way of simple and everyday home cures is an effective method to reduce hair fall and get extra strong and silky hair. Taking stress or excessive tension not only affects one’s mental health, it also leads to external bodily changes like acne and hair fall. Being patient, not taking too much pressure and thinking positive can help reduce such conditions. Hair loss caused due to menopause or childbirth returns to normal after 6 months to 2 years.
There is no set line of treatment for hair that is caused by illness (such as fever), chemotherapy, medications, or other reasons. The hair usually grows back when the illness subsides or the therapy is finished.
Hair weaves, wigs, hair pieces, or changes of hair style may help in hiding hair loss. This is generally the least expensive, safest and best approach to hide hair loss. Hair pieces should not be stuck or sutured to the scalp because of the risk of scars and infection.
Common Treatments Available
A few dietary changes followed by medications can prevent alopecia(hairfall). Diet should comprise more proteins, vitamin C and E which help in enhancing skin and hair. If not, then these vitamins can be consumed orally in the form of medicines. Another approach towards treatment of alopecia is usage of Minoxidil 2-10% topical solution. It is really effective in reducing hairfall.
Following a healthy diet is the key to prevent hairloss and the inclusion of proteins help cut down the risk to nearly zero.
- Oil your hair– Nourishing the hair with oil is one of the best solutions to reduce hair fall. Using home made preparations for the same can be beneficial. Boil mustard oil and put a few pieces of chopped Amla and Methi seeds into it. Apply the mixture to the hair roots. Leave it overnight and wash with mild shampoo next morning. This, if used for 2-3 months, can promote faster hair growth.
- Trim your hair– This is a must-do in every 2-3 months. Not trimming your hair can result into split-ends which, if not taken care of with time, can completely stop the hair from growing any further.
- Excessive use of products like hair color, serums and conditioners, curling machine or re-bonding products can also damage the hair, making them dry and brittle; inhibiting their further growth.
- Meditation can help reduce hair fall. It is the most natural, tried and tested means of becoming stress free.
- Shampooing the hair daily is not the solution, rather tying them into a plait before going out or just tying a scarf around the head keeps them protected and less exposed to harsh sunlight, dust and pollution.
- Eating proper meals everyday can promote hair growth. Consuming fruits, almonds, egg whites, dried amla, water also lead to longer, stronger, shinier hair.
- Henna Pack- You can also apply henna powder with 2-3 lemon drops and curd on your scalp. This reduces dandruff, leading to healthier hair growth and reduced hair fall.
When to Contact a Dermatologist
You should immediately seek medical assistance if:
- You lose hair in an unusual pattern
- You are losing hair at a rapid rate or at an early age
- You face any pain or itching along with the hair loss
- The scalp under the affected area is scaly, red or otherwise abnormal
- You are suffering with acne vulgaris(pimples), facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle
- You are a woman suffering with PCOS/PCOD
- You have visible patterns of bald spots on your beard or eyebrows
- Your body is gaining weight and you have muscular weakness, fatigue, or intolerance to cold temperatures.