Hair Fall - Types, Symptom, Treatment And Causes
What is Hair Fall?
Hair loss, also known as alopecia or baldness, refers to a loss of hair from part of the head or body. Typically at least the head is involved. The severity of hair loss can vary from a small area to the entire body. Typically inflammation or scarring is not present. Hair fall in some people causes psychological distress. Everybody loses some hair every day. Research has shown that a person can lose up to 100 hairs per day. But losing more hair can cause bald spots to appear on a man’s head. In case of a woman, there is thinning of the hair on the top of her head.
Hair fall is not a life-threatening condition. But it can become seriously jeopardize one’s self-confidence by drastically changing for the worse how he/she looks. Men, women and even children can experience hair loss. This condition occurs generally as a result of hormonal changes, heredity, medical conditions or as a side-effect of some medications. Hair loss due to hereditary reasons is the most common cause of hair fall.
What are the types of hair loss?
The hair growth rate slows down as people age and is called alopecia. There are lot many hair loss types:
- Involutional Alopecia- It is the natural gradual thinning of hair with age. There is an increase in the number of hair follicles which enter the resting phase and the other hairs become fewer and shorter.
- Androgenic Alopecia- Both women and men can be affected by this genetic condition. Men who have this condition may start losing hair even in their teenage years. This is known as male-pattern baldness. It is marked by gradual hair loss from the frontal scalp and the crown and the hairline receding. Women affected by this have hair thinning after their forties. It is known as female-pattern baldness and maximum hair loss happens near the crown.
- Alopecia Areata- It usually has a sudden onset and leads to hair loss in patches in young adults and children. It may lead to total balding (alopecia totalis). In over 90% of people having this condition, the hair grows back within a few years.
- Trichotillomania- It is observed most commonly in children. A person tears out their own hair because of this psychological disorder.
- Telogen Effluvium- Hair growth cycle changes lead to a temporary thinning of hair on the scalp. It happens due to a lot of hair entering the resting phase which leads to shedding of a hair and consequent thinning.
- Scarring Alopecia- It leads to irreversible hair loss. Inflammatory conditions of the skin like folliculitis, acne and cellulitis, results in scarring that destroys the hair’s ability to regenerate. Tightly woven hair and hot combs may result in irreversible hair loss as well.
What are the signs and symptoms of hair fall?
- Hair falling out in clumps or patches
- Thinning of hair
- Hair becoming brittle and breaking easily
What are the causes of hair fall?
Hair fall is most commonly prevalent in people who have had a family history of hair loss, genetics play a huge role in this. Some hormones also trigger hair loss which usually begins during puberty. Other factors such as traumatic events, surgeries and major illnesses can also trigger acute hair fall. In such cases, hair starts growing back on its own after some time. Temporary hair loss can be caused due to menopause, sudden discontinuation of birth control pills, childbirth and hormonal changes due to pregnancy.
Sometimes severe medical conditions can also cause hair loss such as scalp infections (ringworm), alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder which damages the hair follicles) and thyroid disease. Disorders like lichen planus and certain types of lupus can also cause lichens which result in hair fall. Many times hair fall can also be triggered by the use of medications used to treat heart problems, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and cancer. Emotional or physical shock can also trigger hair loss such as high fever, extreme weight loss and death in the family.
A hair-pulling disorder known as trichotillomania makes the affected person pull out his/her hair deliberately. It is an impulse control disorder which can be treated by therapy. The affected person can pull out hair from their eyelash, eyebrows and the scalp. Tying our hair very tightly puts immense pressure on the hair resulting in breakage. This is known as traction hair loss. Consuming less iron and protein in your diet can also lead to thin hair.
There are few other causes through which hair loss occurs:
- Hormones- Abnormal androgen levels may cause hair to fall as well.
- Genes – Genes from either parent can increase the likelihood of a person having female or male pattern baldness.
- Drugs- Blood thinners, cancer treatment drugs, birth-control medication and beta blockers may lead to hair fall as well.
- Medical Predispositions- Diabetes, lupus, iron deficiency, thyroid disease, anaemia and eating disorders may lead to hair fall. Usually, when the root cause is treated, hair grows back again.
- Cosmetic- Procedures like perming, hair dyes, bleaching and over the use of shampoo can all lead to thinning of hair, making it brittle and weak. Braiding hair tightly, using hot curlers or rollers also causes hair breakage and damage. These, however, don’t lead to baldness.
What vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?
Vitamins play an essential role in the growth of hair. Deficiency in vitamins may cause numerous problems related to hair fall. Niacin or vitamin B3 and Biotin is another B vitamin, which leads to hair fall. There is some evidence shows that deficiency of Vitamin D in the body affects the growth of hair. Researches show that people with hair fall have lower levels of Vitamin D compared to other people.
How hair loss is diagnosed?
After consulting the patient about symptoms and enquiring about the respective medical and family history, various tests are performed to diagnose the hair fall problem. Few of they are listed below:
- Physical hair pull test
- Blood test
- Scalp biopsy
- Light microscopy
How to treat hair fall?
Hair fall solution can be addressed in multiple ways and before opting for any treatment do check with your doctor to determine the nature of your condition. Some medications and drugs boost androgen levels to improve hair growth. For more severe cases you can opt for a wig but in today’s fashion world that would seem out of place. You can opt for hair weaving or hair bonding treatments where the synthetic hair strands or real hair strands are artificially glued to your scalp. Sometimes these can appear as a takeaway latex skin, and you can use it and comb it like how you use your natural hair. However, these can have their limitations.
For more permanent results, go for hair transplantation. The treatment involves individually picking out your hair follicles from the denser region of your head and implanting them in the area where you experience hair fall. The hair follicles are taken individually or in some cases taken as an entire strip and surgically sewn into the bald spots. These surgical procedures are the most advanced forms of treatments available currently and are more permanent. The hair follicles once taken root can act like your own hair and depending on your maintenance can grow into stronger stands.
Who would need anti-hair loss therapy?
Taking pills for your hair growth is not safe during pregnancy and childbirth. Avoiding these medications during those periods would be safe. Also, heart patients and people with high blood pressure may not be a suitable candidate for hair fall treatment. Before opting for any treatment, consult with your physician without fail.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
There can be some side effects felt if you are undertaking the hair regrowth pills as these focus on increasing the androgen levels of your body. In some cases, they are not safe for your reproductive organs, and you can choose alternate medicines. As far as hair transplantation goes, the skin can appear itchy and reddish after the procedure. The area where the procedure has been done can go numb, and these symptoms gradually fade away over a period. Always do take these hair fall treatments in reputed centres as they can have high safety standards.
What are the side effects of hair fall treatment?
After the hair fall treatment, you might be asked to take rest for a couple of days. You might be required to wear a surgical hair cap over your head to prevent infections. Usually, the recovery period is very minimal, and you can get back to your normal activities within a few days. In the case of hair weaving, you might have to visit the centres occasionally to take care of the bonding or to change the style.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
After the hair transplantation, you might be asked to take rest for a couple of days. You might be required to wear a surgical hair cap over your head to prevent infections. Usually, the recovery period is very minimal, and you can get back to your normal activities within a few days. In the case of hair weaving, you might have to visit the centres occasionally to take care of the bonding or to change the style.
How long does it take to recover from hair loss treatment?
The recovery period is very minimal regarding hair loss treatment. You can get back to your routine duties within a short period. You might be asked to visit a month for a checkup, and your hair regrowth can start after a period of six months. In case you are taking pills and tablets, there is no recovery time, and you can adhere to your regular work routine.
What is the price of hair loss treatment in India?
The price of the treatment depends on the type of clinic you are undergoing the treatment. For hair transplantations, the average price starts from one lakh and can go up to 5 lakhs for the entire head. Hair weaving and hair bonding are relatively cheaper and start from 50,000 INR and can go up to 1 lakh for more advanced hair types. Once again – ensure that you undertake these treatments only in reputed clinics and centres.
Are the results of the hair loss treatment permanent?
The alternatives to such hair loss treatments can be natural hair oils and ayurvedic products. These can be safe on your hair as they do not use any chemical based medications and does not involve surgery. You can also make some lifestyle changes and stick to strict diets that are high in proteins and nutrients needed for your hair.
How to prevent hair loss?
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is one of the best ways for hair loss prevention. Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of hair loss or slowdowns its onset. Proteins like keratin help rebuilding of hair follicles. Including amino acids in the diet helps hair growth as they work as building blocks.
What vitamins are good to prevent hair loss?
Nutritional deficiency leads to hair loss and vitamin intake is the best way to prevent it. The best vitamins are:
- Vitamin A: It is the fundamental unit for every cell present in the body. As hair is the fastest growing tissue Vitamin A plays a significant role in its growth. Vitamin A is found in animal products like milk, eggs, and cod liver oil.
- Vitamin B: One of the chief vitamins in hair growth is Vitamin B also called Biotins. It helps in the creation of RBC and carries oxygen, nutrients to the scalp. Vitamin B is found in whole grains, almonds, meat, seafood, green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin C: It is a powerful antioxidant which prevents against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. A protein called collagen which is important for hair growth. This vitamin helps absorbing necessary minerals for hair. Citrus fruits like Oranges, Strawberries, peppers, etc are good for hair growth.
- Vitamin D: It is a major factor for hair growth which helps to create new follicles. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in hair production. Fatty fish, cod liver oil, some mushrooms, and fortified foods are a good source of vitamin D.
What are the home remedies for hair fall?
- Egg whites: These are deposits of proteins, minerals and B-complex which are important for hair. They provide nutrients for hair growth and also strengthens hair. Egg whites are recommended for oily hair because it reduces oil production. It can be mixed with olive oil for fast hair growth.
- Aloe Vera: It is massive deposits of amino acids and proteolytic enzymes which are good for hair growth. It can be mixed with castor oil and fenugreek powder for better results.
- Amla: It has a high concentration of antioxidants which increases the regeneration of skin cells. It conditions your scalp, minimizes grey hair and boosts hair volume. Amla even reduces dandruff hence thickens the hair. vegetable oil, henna powder, egg, water and milk can be mixed with Amla for better results.
- Onion: It contains dietary sulphur most common mineral required for enzymes and proteins production. Antimicrobial properties of onion juice help scalp to fight against infections. The antioxidant property, on the other hand, cancels free radicals which reduce damage to hair follicles.