What is hair loss?
Hair loss- also known as Alopecia- can result in losing hair either from your scalp or entire body. Hair loss can be hereditary. This condition can also occur due to hormonal changes, aging, infection, or inappropriate medicines. Hair loss is more common in men and older adults however women and even children can also face the problem.
Hair loss is a common phenomenon, and on average, a person loses up to 100 hair per day with about 1 lac hair on the head. This isn’t noticeable, because new hair replaces the lost hair. But it doesn’t happen always. Sometimes due to any reason, new hair does not replace the lost hair. As a result, a person experiences baldness. This hair loss can be temporary or permanent.
If you feel that you are losing more hair than usual, it’s time to consult a doctor. Your doctor will identify the cause of the problem and will recommend a suitable treatment for it.
What are the causes of hair loss?
Your doctor will first examine the cause of your hair loss before prescribing you the treatment. The most common causes include:
The most common cause of hair loss is hereditary. If you have a family history of badness, you are more likely to get it predictably. This condition is also known as Androgenic Alopecia.
Certain sex hormones are involved in it. Male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness occurs as bald spots and disappearance of hair from the crown in males and females respectively.
Hormonal changes may also trigger hair loss like pregnancy, breastfeeding, childbirth, thyroid problems, and menopause. However, this loss is usually temporary, and the hair will grow back again.
Hair loss can also be due to a medical illness, like scalp infections (ringworm) or thyroid diseases.
Alopecia Areata is another condition that is immune-related and attacks the hair follicles. It results in sporadic hair loss. Some diseases like Lichen Planus results in permanent hair loss.
Side effects of medicines
Sometimes, hair loss is due to the side effects of certain medicines, drugs, antibiotics, and supplements.
Radiation therapies are done for cancer patients. It can also result in loss of hair from the scalp on a permanent or temporary basis.
Surgeries may also be a cause of hair loss.
Physical or emotional shock
A stressful physical or emotional life event can also result in hair loss. It started with thinning of hair after the event. This hair loss may be temporary.
Traction hair loss
Another cause is traction hair loss, where excessive hair styling puts pressure on the follicles.
The excessive pulling of hair, hot oil treatments, and backcombing result in excessive hair breakage and loss.
Sometimes, poor dietary habits also contribute to hair loss. Deficiency of protein and iron in the diet can result in thinning of hair.
How to diagnose hair loss?
Your doctor will identify the cause of hair loss by determining your family history and physical examination. Your doctor may also ask you about your eating habits and hair care routine.
Following tests are usually done to identify the underlying issue.
A blood test is done to identify any medical illness that is causing hair loss.
Your doctor may take few samples plucked from your scalp. The root hair will be examined under the microscope to identify the underlying cause of hair loss. It helps to identify either hair loss is due to an infection or some other reason.
Identifying the cause is a long and difficult process. It may take time to know the exact reason for the hair loss because of the complexity of the hair growth process.
Treatment for hair loss
There are the following treatment options available for hair loss.
The first option to treat hair loss is the use of medication.
Several types of gels, oils, and creams are available that are used to treat it. Minoxidil is also prescribed by doctors. It has few side effects, like the growth of hair to the adjacent areas. Your doctor may also prescribe you oral medications. It will slow down the hair loss process. It also results in growing new hair.
Corticosteroids are also prescribed by doctors that are used to reduce inflammation. It suppresses the immune system. There may be few possible side effects of these medications like skin irritation, glaucoma, or swelling of legs.
Do not take the medicines on your own. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatment.
Sometimes, medications are not enough to overcome the problem, so hair transplant surgery is another option to treat baldness. When someone has a family history of baldness, they usually lose the hair from the top of the head.
Skin is removed from hair-bearing regions and transplanted to bald areas. It involves taking the small patches of skin from your head, so it is painful. During the operation, you will be anesthetized.
Skin infection, bleeding, and bruising are few possible side effects of hair transplant surgery.
Since heredity hair loss is progressive, you will need multiple surgeries over time.
Laser treatment is painless, and it sometimes reverses the process. More studies are needed to know its long-term positive effects. Your doctor will determine either it is a good option for you or not.
How can I prevent hair loss?
Here are few things that you can do to avoid hair thinning and loss.
Use a wide-toothed brush to comb your hair.
Avoid tight braids, hair ironing, curling, and hairstyles involving tight pulling of hair. Do not wear hairstyles that put too much pressure on the scalp as they weaken the follicles.
Protect your hair from direct sunlight and radiation.
Make sure to eat a healthy balanced diet rich in iron, protein, and zinc.
Always use a mild shampoo to wash your hair.
If your hair loss continues, talk to your doctor to lower the risks.