Hair loss – What is normal and what needs treatment
- April 12, 2018
- Posted by: Cutis
- Category: Knowledge Center
Everyone loses hair. It is normal to lose about 50 to 100 hair every day. If you see bald patches or a lot of thinning, you may be experiencing hair loss.
There are many causes of hair loss. Women may notice hair loss after giving birth. People under a lot of stress can see noticeable hair loss. Some diseases and medical treatments can cause hair loss.
The most common cause of hair loss is a medical condition called androgenetic alopecia. This type of hair loss can affect both men and women. Other terms for androgenetic alopecia include:
- Male pattern baldness
- Female pattern hair loss
For many people, losing their hair is a frustrating experience. Fortunately, treatments are available that can help to increase hair density and prevent further hair loss.
CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
The hair follicle is a structure that encases the lower part of the hair shaft. Each follicle contains blood vessels that nurture new hair growth. All hair follicles are present at birth. Throughout their lifetime, each follicle grows and sheds a single hair in a repetitive cycle. The hair cycle has the following phases
- The growth phase for a single new hair which lasts two to three years.
- At the end of this time, growth ceases and the follicle enters a resting phase.
- After three to four months in the resting phase, the follicle enters the shedding phase, when the hair is shed and the next growth cycle begins.
On a normal scalp, approximately 80 to 90 percent of follicles are growing at any given point of time. Each day, about 75 to 100 follicles shed their hair, while the same number enters a new growth phase. This is the reason why you notice hair fall while combing your hair or after taking a head bath. This continuous hair cycle is the reason why in spite of shedding multiple hairs in a day, you do not go completely bald.
In men with androgenetic alopecia, hormones related to testosterone (also called androgens) cause hair follicles to have a shorter-than-normal growth phase, resulting in hair shafts that are abnormally short and thin. These follicles are known as “miniaturized” hair follicles. The reasons why some men develop androgenetic alopecia and others do not are not fully understood. It is generally accepted that genetic background strongly influences the development of androgenetic alopecia in men, but the exact way in which family history affects a man’s chance of developing hair loss has not been determined.
Genetics also appears to play a role in the risk for androgenetic alopecia in women, although other unknown factors may also be important. As an example, abnormal levels of androgens in the blood are the cause of androgenetic alopecia in a minority of women.
SYMPTOMS OF HAIR LOSS
Men and women experience androgenetic alopecia with equal frequency, although it may be camouflaged well in women. In men, androgenetic alopecia is characterized by gradual hair thinning that most often affects the crown and frontal areas of the scalp. In many men, the hairline around the temples regresses. As it moves back to the mid-scalp, an M-shaped hair pattern develops. The hair in areas affected by hair loss may be of various lengths and thickness, and the presence of uneven lengths and texture is a classic sign of male pattern baldness.
Women may have similar patterns of hair loss, although typically the hair loss is a little more diffuse when compared to men. Women rarely experience loss of all their hair.
Other scenario where there is an increase in generalized hair loss is after having a fever, or after pregnancy, or induced by certain medications. A general guideline is to keep an eye on the number of hairs you lose in a day. If you notice that you are losing more than a hundred hairs per day, then you ought to consult your Dermatologist.
HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS
Androgenetic alopecia can usually be diagnosed by examining the scalp. In some cases, you will need blood tests to look for other causes of hair loss, like changes in hormone levels, low iron levels (anemia), or thyroid problems.
PSYCHOSOCIAL IMPACT OF HAIR LOSS
The psychosocial impact of hair loss can be severe for some people, especially women, since there is little understanding or acceptance of the condition. Both women and men may have difficulty with issues of low self-esteem or feeling unattractive.
If you are having difficulty with the psychosocial impact of losing your hair, speak to your doctor about your feelings. Doctors can offer support and may recommend that that the patient meets a therapist or a clinical psychologist, and can also provide tips on cosmetic coverings.
HAIR LOSS TREATMENT
Treatment for hair loss is dependent on the cause of the hair loss. Both medical and surgical options are available and is dependent on the type of hair loss.
WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION
Please consult a doctor before starting any treatment. You must inform the doctor regarding any prior history of treatment for other conditions or any plans of conceiving. Your doctor is your best source for accurate information. Your type of hair loss can be easily determined by your treating Dermatologist with a simple clinical examination and the subsequent treatment may be tailored to suit you.