Understanding Hair Loss – The Basics

What is Hair Loss?

There is hair growth everywhere on the human skin except on the sole of our feet palm our hands. Some hair is so fine that they are virtually invisible. Hair is made up of keratin, a protein which is produced in the outer layer of the skin by the hair follicles. As new hair cells are produced by the hair follicles, the previous ones are pushed out through the skin surface at the rate of around six inches a year. In fact the hair which is visible is really a string of dead keratin cells. There is around 100,000 to 150,000 hair on an adult human’s head and they tend to lose about 100 strands of hair a day. So seeing a few strands of hair on your brush or comb is not a matter for panic.

However it can be a matter of concern when you start noticing excessive hair fall. This is the time you might want to consider consulting a doctor. If the hair loss prolongs for too it can gradually lead to baldness. Medical alternatives may not always help you resolve this problem permanently. The best option to address this problem permanently is considering a hair transplant surgery.

The success rate of this surgery depends on the experience of the doctor, technique used and location of the clinic. Mumbai apparently has many reputed clinics spread across the city with some of the most experienced doctors. Hair transplant in Mumbai is quite affordable some of the clinics also provide EMI facility for this treatment.

Around 90% of hair is growing on the scalp at any given time. Every individual follicle has its own life cycle which can be influenced by disease, age and a vast variety of different factors.

The life cycle is separated into three phases:

Life cycle of hair

Anagen – It is a phase of active hair growth which has the duration between two to six years.

Catagen – This phase involves transitional hair growth which last for two to three weeks.

Telogen – This is the resting phase which last for the span of two to four months. The hair falls out at the end of this phase and a new hair replaces it. The life cycle of hair growth starts again.

The rate of hair growth decreases as the person ages.

Different Stages

Alopecia is a kind of hair loss which has many different categories:

Involutional alopecia is a condition wherein the hair slowly thins with age. There is an increase in the number of hair going into resting phase and the left over hair becomes shorter and lesser in number.

Androgenic alopecia can affect both men and women and is a genetic condition. In men, this condition is called male pattern baldness and people suffering from it can start losing their hair from their teens or early 20s.

Hair fall at early stage

It is identified by a receding hairline and disappearance of hair from the frontal and crown area of the scalp. Female pattern baldness is the name given to this condition when women suffer from it. Noticeable thinning is not experienced by them till about 40 years and above. The entire scalp experiences thinning and hair loss, it is most prominent in the crown area.

Alopecia areata mostly starts suddenly and causes hair loss in patches in children and young adults. This condition may also cause total baldness (alopecia totalis). Hair returns within a few years in around 90% of people suffering from this condition.

Alopecia universalis is a condition that causes all the hair from the body to fall out; it includes the eyelashes, eyebrows and pubic hair.

Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder in which the person pulls out their own hair. This disorder is more prevalent among children.

Telogen effluvium occurs when there is a change in the growth cycle of the hair. Hair in great number enters the resting phase simultaneously, resulting in shedding and hair thinning.

Scarring alopecia causes permanent loss of hair. Inflammatory skin conditions (folliculitis, acne and cellulitis) and other skin disorders (lichen planus and some forms of lupus) cause scars that impair the ability of the hair to regenerate. Using styling tools and wearing your hair in tight hairstyles can also cause permanent hair loss.

What causes hair loss?

What causes Hair Loss?

Doctors cannot figure out exactly why some hair follicles have shorter period of growth than others. But several factors may affect hair loss:

Hormones – Abnormal levels of androgen which are male hormones produced by both men and women can cause hair loss.

Stress, childbirth and illness – All these can cause temporary hair loss. Hair loss is also caused by ringworm which is a fungal infection.

Genes – Genes from both parents may influence the person’s susceptibility to male or female pattern baldness.

Influence from Genes

Drugs – Drugs can cause temporary hair loss. They include drugs that are used for chemotherapy, blood thinners, birth control pills and beta-adrenergic blockers which are used to control blood pressure.

Drugs

Injuries, burns and X-rays – These factors cause temporary hair loss. Once the injury heals the normal hair growth returns unless a scar has developed. In that case the hair will never regrow in that area.

Injuries, Fire & Health

Autoimmune disease – This condition causes alopecia areata, in which the immune system for unknown reasons attacks the hair follicles. In majority of the people the hair grows back but they may be finer and of lighter shade of color. Normal color and thickness will return with the passage of time.

Cosmetic procedures – Overall hair thinning can be contributed to frequent shampooing, bleaching, perming and dyeing hair which makes them weak and brittle. The hair is also damaged due to tight braiding and using hot curls or rollers. Baldness is not caused by these procedures and in most cases the hair grows back if the root cause of the problem is removed. However, serious damage to the scalp or hair can cause permanent bald patches.

Drugs

Medical conditions – Hair loss can be triggered due to lupus, diabetes, thyroid, iron deficiency, anemia or eating disorders. Mostly when the underlining condition is addressed the hair returns. It may not be so if there is scarring which can happen in some types of lupus, follicular disorders and lichen planus.

Medical Condition

DietAcutely calorie restricted diet or a low protein diet can also contribute to temporary hair loss.

Diet