The thinning of hair on the scalp is known as hair loss. In medical terminology it is referred to as alopecia which can be temporary or permanent. The most common form of hair loss occurs gradually and is known as androgenetic alopecia, a combination of hormones and heredity. Other types of hair loss include alopecia areata, telogen affluvium and traction alopecia. Age is the most prominent cause of hair loss in both men as well as women, but is generally found to be more prominent in men.
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. A single hair comprises of a hair strand, a root below the skin and a follicle from which the hair grows. The hair bulb is located at the lower end of the follicle which produces the hair’s pigment color or melanin.
It is normal to lose an average of 50-100 hairs a day as they tend to grow back in the same follicle. But if you are experiencing unusual or more hair loss accompanied by visibly thin or balding patches you need to visit your doctor. It is necessary to take sound medical advice and determine the exact reason for hair loss. Correct diagnosis will lead to the correct treatment and can aid in rectifying any underlying causes for the loss of hair.
Causes for Hair Loss:
There are several reasons for hair loss ranging from genetic tendencies and hormonal imbalance to ill health and poor nutrition. Some of the causes of hair loss are:
Alopecia Areata: This is an autoimmune skin disease which triggers the damage of hair follicles by a person’s own immune system. It causes hair loss on the scalp as well as elsewhere on the body. Research shows that over 4 million people are affected by alopecia areata in the United States alone. The disease is said to affect 1.7 per cent of the population at the global level. Alopecia areata begins as a single or multiple round bald patches on the scalp and can lead to complete hair loss. It can affect both men and women and often begins in childhood. The hair usually grows back in a period of 6 months to 2 years, except for a few cases.
Androgenetic alopecia: This is also called male-pattern baldness and affects the majority of men. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a number of factors including hormones called androgens and genetic causes. Some males begin to show signs of hair loss in their mid teens. This type of hair loss can also occur due to intake of steroids like testosterone used in body building.
Medical conditions and hormonal imbalance: Hair loss can also be triggered by endocrine (hormonal) conditions affecting the body such as diabetes or thyroid. People with kidney and liver disorders can also experience excessive hair loss. Young girls and women might experience hair loss due to the hormone imbalance that occurs in polycystic ovary syndrome.
Telogen effluvium: Women often experience excessive shedding of hair after childbirth. Hair loss can also result after fever, a long term illness, surgery, intake of anesthesia or sudden weight loss. This type of hair loss is usually temporary and corrects itself with time.
Medications: Certain medications also have hair loss as a side effect like lithium, isotretinoin, diet pills and chemotherapy drugs. Prolonged intake of these drugs can lead to total hair loss.
Trichotillomania: It is a psychological disorder where people repeatedly pull their hair out. This results in bald patches and hair damage. People suffering from this disorder need professional help and medication.
Poor nutrition: A poor diet can also result in hair loss. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are known to initiate hair loss. It is important for the body to get sufficient proteins, vitamins and minerals in order to sustain hair growth. A balanced diet is essential for hair growth along with the correct amount of supplements.
Hair treatments: Regular hair styling and exposure of hair to harsh chemicals such as hair dyes, bleaching creams, hair gels, hair straightening and perming ingredients can result in temporary or permanent hair loss. This can also result in permanent baldness in some cases. Wearing your hair pulled back extremely tightly that it places tension on the scalp is called traction alopecia and can result in permanent hair damage if the style is worn for a long period of time.
Hair Care Tips:
It is important to take good care of your hair in order to avoid hair loss. It is necessary to intake a healthy diet rich in all the essential vitamins, minerals and proteins necessary for hair growth to sustain beautiful hair for a longer time.
Use shampoos that are mild such as baby shampoos as they are less harsh on the hair in comparison to the stronger ones. Do not change your shampoo on a regular basis. Shampooing more than once in a day leads to hair damage. Lather your hair gently and do not dry it vigorously with a towel.
Let your hair dry naturally; avoid using a blow drier every now and then. Regular use of blow drier results in hair damage and the hair loses most of its natural luster.
Style your hair only when it’s dry. Brushing or combing wet hair can cause it to stretch and break.
Everyone wants to have beautiful hair. Thus, it is essential to take proper care of it and consult a good doctor in case of excessive hair loss. The secret to having a well nourished mane lies in a healthy diet, keeping fit and going low on chemicals.