Scalp hair has cosmetic value. Hair loss has become the most worrisome issue for both men and women. When a man or woman starts losing hair, it makes an impact on the psychological health, self-esteem, and confidence.
Hair loss is a common condition faced by people of all age groups. There are various causes for hair loss. Hence understanding hair growth cycle is important to determine if the hair fall is normal or is due to an underlying cause.
The human scalp has around one hundred thousand hair follicles. Hair grows in three cycles. The hair follicle undergoes three different phases of activity and inactivity.
Once the hair is shed, new hair starts growing. Each hair again enters these three stages of growth cycle in that order.
Depending on the cause of hair loss, different names are given.
1. Androgenetic alopecia (AGA)
Also called patterned alopecia, it is seen in both men and women. It is a hormonal, progressive condition with genetic influence. Hair becomes thinner as the age advances. It may start as early as in the 20s.
In men, hair loss will be seen on both sides of the temporal scalp and over the vertex (center of the scalp). Men will notice hair fall, delayed hair growth, thinning of hair diameter, visibility of scalp skin, initially over frontal area and vertex. As the alopecia progresses, these two patches of hair loss join together leaving a band of hair limited to occipital scalp area (back of scalp).
In women, the pattern of hair loss is different from men. Here they notice thinning of hair, visibility of scalp limited to the central scalp, around the parting line. It is very unusual for women to go completely bald as men do. However rarely, male pattern baldness can also be seen in women presenting as baldness over frontal scalp and vertex.
2. Telogen effluvium
This is a stress-induced hair loss. Hair loss will be seen after two to three months of stressful episodes. Stress can be either physical stress (any illness, malaria, typhoid, surgeries, excessive hemorrhage, crash diet, after childbirth) or mental stress (exams, grief, depression). Usually, 10 % of hair will be under telogen (resting) phase. These stressful episodes push more hairs into resting phase, ranging from 20 to 25 %. These resting hairs start falling after three months.
3. Alopecia due to endocrine disorders
Endocrine disorders and subsequent hormone imbalances can cause hair loss. Hypothyroidism is the most common cause among these.
4. Drug-induced alopecia
Certain medications like anti-cancer medicine, anti-thyroid medicine, increased vitamin A, retinoids can cause diffuse hair loss.
5. Nutritional alopecia
Protein-energy malnutrition, zinc deficiency, biotin deficiency, essential fatty acid deficiency, malabsorption syndromes, and anemia can cause hair loss.
6. Alopecia areata
Smooth “patchy” hair loss, it can affect scalp hair, eyebrow, beard, and mustache.
This condition is more common in women than men. There will be unintentional yet conscious pulling of one’s own hair. It is an impulse control disorder.
8. Traction alopecia
Hair loss is due to continuous pull on the hairs. Traction during hair styling with the use of tight clips or bands, tight braiding practices, tight pony tail, tight scarf tied over the scalp can cause traction alopecia
Hair loss is considered severe when there is a loss of more than 100 hairs per day. Treatment of hair loss depends on the cause of hair loss. Hence, a detailed evaluation is necessary in case of hair loss.
Blood test including hemoglobin, thyroid hormones, and vitamin D are necessary depending on the pattern of hair loss.
Treatment options for hair loss (androgenetic alopecia)
For more information consult a hair loss specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist/hair-loss
Last reviewed at:
10 Jul 2019 - 4 min read
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