Loss of Hair
While not all of us are endowed with a mane of gorgeous locks or silky lustrous hair, we all value our hair, and no matter how much we crib about, wed be miserable if it were gone. Hair does add greatly to our appearance, and as self conscious thinking animals its only natural for it to matter a lot to us. Hair loss can be extremely worrying, but it isnt necessarily always so.
On an average, there are at least 100,000 hairs on your scalp. Hair grows at the rate of approximately a centimeter a month in a normal cycle of hair growth. At any point in time, ninety percent of the hair on your head is actively growing, while the remaining ten percent is resting. This resting hair will fall out naturally in three to four months and be replaced by new hair that grows in its place. It is completely normal to have some amount of regular hair fall. However, in some cases, there is an abnormal rate of hair loss, with not enough new hair being produced to replace the amount that is lost. In such cases, this can lead to partial or total loss of hair or baldness. Medically, this condition is referred to as alopecia, but is also known as baldness, hair fall or hair loss. Hair loss can affect men, women, and even children.
There are different types of loss of hair depending on the cause of the hair fall. Androgenic alopecia or Male Pattern Baldness (for males) and Female Pattern Baldness (for women) are the most common types of hair loss. Largely due to genetics and heredity, androgenic alopecia is a permanent type of hair loss and is considered incurable by the medical fraternity. Other temporary types of hair loss may develop as a result of certain medications or illnesses and even stress. Once the underlying problem is treated, the hair loss stops and hair growth resumes at a normal rate.
Symptoms of Loss of Hair
Men who develop Male Pattern Baldness or androgenic alopecia see the symptoms in the form of a receding hairline early on in life. Following a receding hairline is a bald patch on the top of the head that may or may not increase in size as one ages. With Female Pattern Baldness, the hair loss is evident all over the head and there is an overall thinning of hair that can be very distressing to most women. Some types of hair loss are centered on small patches of hair, whereas others may affect large areas of the scalp.
Causes of Loss of Hair
Besides genetics and heredity, there are a number of different factors that may lead to hair loss. These include:
- Surgery: A few months after any major surgery, you may suddenly witness a large amount of hair fall. This happens in response to the stress and strain on the body after the illness / operation and will stop naturally after some time.
- Hormones: An imbalance of hormones can lead to abnormal hair loss. High levels of androgens or estrogen in your body can lead to hair loss. If your thyroid is functioning improperly it could lead to large amounts of hair fall. An under active or overactive thyroid gland could result in this development.
- Pregnancy: About three months after having a baby, many women report an unusual amount of hair fall. This can be attributed to hormonal changes once again. During pregnancy the body produces an excess of hormones that increases the production of hair. This is why so many women have the healthiest hair growth during pregnancy. Once the baby is born, the hormones balance out and there will be some amount of hair lost in the process.
- Medication: Certain medicines and drugs result in temporary hair loss. These include blood thinners, high blood pressures medications, and drugs for heart disease, birth control pills, antidepressants and even too many vitamin A supplements. Once the medication is replaced or stopped, things go back to normal.
- Infections: Fungal infections of the scalp can lead to hair loss. This is particularly prevalent in children and can be treated with specific anti-fungal shampoos and medications.
- Illnesses: Hair loss can be a symptom of diseases such as diabetes, anemia or lupus. If this is the case, it is important that the cause of the hair loss is identified and the disease treated immediately.
- Chemotherapy: Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy result in heavy hair loss. This is to be expected and hair generally grows back in about a year after the chemotherapy sessions end.
- Hairstyles: Certain hairstyles such as tight pigtails or cornrows can put too much pressure on the hair and scalp and result in scarring of the scalp and hair loss. This is referred to as traction alopecia. If the pulling of hair is stopped in time, there may be no permanent scarring or hair loss. Salon hair treatments such as hot oil conditioning if not done properly can scar the scalp and ruin the hair as well. Chemicals used to curl or straighten hair can play havoc on the natural growth cycles. In such cases, hair fall occurs as a result of inflamed hair follicles.
- Age: Most men and women notice a gradual thinning of the hair as they age. The severity and amount of this thinning will depend on factors such as genetics and heredity and cannot be controlled.
Remedies for Loss of Hair
If your hair loss worries you, it would be wise to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to get to the root of the problem and discuss possible types of treatments. If the hair loss is sudden and extreme with no obvious cause evident to the doctor, he may order a scalp biopsy to help reach a proper diagnosis.
Apart from medications, there are a number of hair loss home remedies that have proved beneficial as well. Henna leaves boiled with mustard oil and applied to thinning hair and bald patches or ground fenugreek seeds mixed with a little water and applied to the scalp are natural home remedies for baldness. Massaging your hair with safflower oil on a daily basis is a great home remedy for hair growth. A head and hair massage on the whole is beneficial to hair growth and you will find an improvement in the quality of your hair if you manage a daily oil massage for at least a month. Massaging with jojoba essential oil, olive oil, and rosemary oil are all excellent home remedies to stop hair fall. Grapefruit seed oil, tea tree oil, peppermint essential oil and chamomile essential oil aid hair growth as well. Lavender oil is effective as a home remedy for hair fall as it is believed to increase hair growth when sprayed and massaged into the scalp. You can then leave this on the scalp or rinse it off.
Diet for Loss of Hair
Hair loss can be aggravated and increase significantly in case of any nutritional deficiencies. Poor nutrition leads to weakened hair shafts, increased hair breakage and greater amount of hair loss. Malnutrition also affects the circulatory system and can prevent proper flow of blood to the hair cells. This in turn affects hair growth and can also increase the amount of hair loss. These problems can be treated with a proper balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy hair cells and tissues and proper hair growth. In fact vitamin A deficiency can lead to dandruff and a buildup of dead hair cells on the scalp. In order to reach the recommended intake of vitamin A (5,000 IU), increase your intake of fruits and vegetables that are red, yellow or orange in color such as tomatoes and peppers. Some green leafy vegetables are also high in vitamin A. Apart from these you need to include foods such as liver, eggs, vitamin fortified milk and fish oil into your daily diet.
Vitamin B improves blood circulation and the formation of healthy red blood cells. When oxygen from the lungs is carried via the blood cells to the hair, it can improve the cells and tissues in the hair and prevent hair loss and improve hair growth. The best sources of natural vitamin B are chicken, fish, kidney, pork, liver, whole grains, cereals, and legumes. In addition, vitamin B6 supplements can also be added to your daily routine. Other vitamins such as vitamin C can boost immunity and improve hair health as well.
Folic acid is also responsible for healthy hair. You can meet your daily-recommended dose of folic acid by adding orange juice, leafy vegetables, beetroot, broccoli, liver, wheat germ, and some cereals to your diet.
Suggestion for Loss of Hair
Some simple hair care tips could help improve the health and quality of your hair, thereby minimizing the effects of hair loss:
- Make it a point to only use hair care products that are meant for your hair type.
- Avoid using low quality shampoos, conditioners or dyes that contain harsh chemicals.
- Cleanse your hair by washing with shampoos and conditioners regularly, but dont overuse shampoos or over wash your hair. Make it a point to always rinse thoroughly after shampooing and conditioning.
- Never comb your hair while its wet.
- Minimize your use of hair dryers, hair sprays and other harsh products.
- Try and oil your hair regularly, massaging into the scalp as well.
- Leonard C. Sperling, Evaluation of hair loss, Current Problems in Dermatology, Volume 8, Issue 3, MayJune 1996, Pages 99-136, ISSN 1040-0486, 10.1016/S1040-0486(96)80003-2.
- N. Hunt, S. McHale, Hair Loss Effects and Surgical/Drug Treatments for the Alopecias, Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance, Academic Press, Oxford, 2012, Pages 482-489, ISBN 9780123849250, 10.1016/B978-0-12-384925-0.00075-4.
Loss of Hair Treatments - more information
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