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Hair Loss - Types, Symptoms, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Jun 14, 2022

What is Hair Loss?

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 loss in some people causes psychological distress.

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 that 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: 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 happen 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, result in scarring that destroys the hair’s ability to regenerate. Tightly woven hair and hot combs may result in irreversible hair loss as well.
  • Hormones: Abnormal androgen levels may cause hair loss 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 loss as well.
  • Medical Predispositions: Diabetes, lupus, iron deficiency, thyroid disease, anemia and eating disorders may lead to hair loss. Usually, when the root cause of the hair loss is treated, hair grows back again.
  • Cosmetic: Procedures like perming, hair dyes, bleaching and overuse of shampoo can all lead to thinning of hair, making it brittle and weak. Braiding hair tightly, and using hot curlers or rollers also causes hair breakage and damage. These however don’t lead to baldness. The hair regrows normally if the causative factor is stopped.

What are the symptoms of hair loss?

Hair Loss symptoms include the following:

  • Sudden hair loss may be due to physical or mental stress.
  • Hair loss all over the body. It may be due to some disease or side effects of medical treatment like chemotherapy.
  • Scaling patches that extend throughout the scalp.
  • Gradual thinning on top of the skull.
  • Bald areas that are round or spotty.
Summary: The most common symptoms of hair loss include patches on the scalp, bald areas, and hair loss on your body.

What causes hair loss?

Hair Loss causes are:

  • Inheritance
  • Medical issues
  • Hormonal changes
  • Aging
Summary: Hair loss mainly occurs due to disease, change in hormones, or inheritance.
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How is hair loss diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and inquire about your nutrition, hair care routine, and medical and family history before establishing a diagnosis.

Following are the ways to diagnose hair loss:

  • Blood Test: It helps you know the cause of hair loss.
  • Pull Test: In a pull test, the doctor pulls a few hundred hairs gently to check how many fall out.
  • Scalp biopsy: In Biopsy, the doctor takes a sample of your hair and observes it under a microscope.
  • Light microscopy: In light microscopy, the doctor examines hairs that have been clipped at their bases with a special device.
Summary: There are mainly four ways to diagnose hair loss which include: a blood test, pull test, scalp biopsy, and light microscopy.

How to prevent hair loss?

You can enhance your general hair health and even prevent hair loss by following a few hair hygiene suggestions.

  • You avoid hairstyles that pull your hair, as they may stretch your hair and cause hair loss.
  • Stay away from hair styling appliances that use a lot of heat.
  • You should avoid using dryers, straightening irons, and curlers as these can damage your roots.
  • Chemically treating hair, such as bleaching, causes hair to break down by dividing protein molecules called keratin.
  • Shampooing your hair too often can cause damage. Frizz, scalp dryness, and fragile hair have all been related to sulphates and other substances.
  • Consider using low-level light treatment. It helps in cell development. It's a potentially successful treatment for male- and female-pattern baldness, which are the two most frequent causes of hair loss in men and women, respectively.
Summary: You can prevent hair loss by keeping your scalp healthy and clean. Use mild shampoos to prevent hair damage.

Can hair loss go away on its own?

Excessive hair loss is prevalent in those who have been exposed to one or more of the following stressors:

  • Weight loss.
  • Given birth.
  • If you're under a lot of pressure.
  • High temperature.
  • Undergone a surgical procedure.

Excessive hair shedding is usually noticed a few months following a stressful event. For example, about two months after giving birth, a new mother may notice increased hair loss.

Approximately four months after giving birth, the shedding normally peaks. This can stop in 6 to 9 months. On the other hand, might last a long time if the stressor persists.

Summary: Hair loss might go away on its own in some cases whereas it may last for a longer time in severe conditions.

How is hair loss treated?

Hair loss can be treated either by medications or surgery.

  1. Medication

    The following are the most prevalent choices to treat hereditary hair loss.

    • Minoxidil: Minoxidil is a shampoo that helps to reduce hair loss. It helps in the process of regrowth of the hair.
    • Finasteride (Propecia): It is used by men to treat hair loss. Finasteride has a few negative effects, including decreased sex drive and sexual function, as well as an increased risk of prostate cancer.
    • Spironolactone (Carospir, Aldactone) and oral dutasteride (Avodart): These are also used to treat hair loss.
  2. Hair transplant surgery:
    • It is a procedure that involves the transplantation of hair. This operation does not require hospitalization, the doctor may prescribe sedative medication to prevent stress.
  3. Laser therapy: It is a type of treatment that uses light. It helps in the treatment of genetic hair loss.
Summary: There are mainly four ways to treat hair loss, these are: by medication, by hair transplantation, or by laser therapy.

What to eat in hair loss?

Here are five of the finest foods for hair loss.

  1. Saturated Fat Fish:

    You are advised to take fish that contain fatty acids, such as omega-3s, and vitamin D. Some of them are:

    • Tuna
    • Mackerel
    • Salmon
    • Herring
  2. Eggs:

    It provides essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to the body. It helps to maintain your hair texture and growth.

  3. Leafy Greens:

    The following are some excellent options:

    • Collards
    • Kale
    • Spinach

    These all contain essential nutrients that help to moisturize your scalp and prevent hair damage.

  4. Fruits:
    • Grapes
    • Apples
    • Cherries
    • Apricots
    • Oranges
  5. Nuts and seeds:
    • Flax seeds
    • Almonds
    • Nuts
    • Chia seeds
    • Walnuts

Zinc and selenium are crucial trace elements that your body cannot produce on its own, thus they must be obtained through foods such as nuts and seeds.

Summary: You should take food enriched with vitamins and minerals to maintain your hair growth. As these food items can help in maintaining healthy hair and scalp.

What not to eat in hair loss?

Food items you should avoid during hair loss include:

  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Sugar
  • Greasy food
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Swordfish
  • Nuts
Summary: Food items containing carbohydrates, and refined sugars can affect your scalp health which thereby leads to hair loss.

What are the side effects of hair loss treatments?

Finasteride has a few negative effects, including decreased sex drive and sexual function, as well as an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Summary: There are a few side effects of the medicines taken during hair loss. It includes unwanted hair growth on the body, inappropriate sexual function, and risk of prostate cancer.

Should I go to urgent care for hair loss?

Consult your doctor if you are losing a lot of hair every day and aren't feeling well at the same time.

If you have the following symptoms along with hair loss, you may be suffering from a significant medical problem and should consult a doctor right away.

  • Confusion
  • Appetite problems
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Skin problems

There's no need to seek immediate medical attention if you're losing your hair.

Summary: Hair loss doesn’t need urgent care, but you should consult your doctor if you have other serious symptoms along with it.

How long does it take to recover from hair loss?

It takes 3 to 4 months for the regrowth of hair. Some people, however, may experience significant (abnormal) hair loss.

Summary: It can take a maximum of 6 to 9 months to recover from hair loss.

What is the price of hair loss treatments in India?

The following is a list of Hair Fall Treatment Prices in various Indian cities. In Bangalore, the average price for the treatment is Rs. 25708 and the price range may be Rs. 3000-150000. In Chennai, the average price for the treatment is Rs. 34442, and the price range may be 800-150000.

In Hyderabad, it will be Rs. 23731, in Kolkata Rs. 11800, in Mumbai Rs. 23961, in New Delhi Rs. 28611, and in Pune Rs. 17630.

Summary: The price of hair loss varies in different cities. It may be higher in Bangalore and lower in Kolkata and New Delhi.

Physical exercises for the people suffering from hair loss:

  • Exercises for blood pumping: It's been discovered that getting circulation flowing in your scalp will help you stop losing hair. Blood arteries, for example, are important for thicker hair development, and physical activity that increases blood flow to the scalp can help decrease natural hair loss.
  • Cardio exercises: Increasing your cardio workout can help you lower your cortisol levels which thereby helps to reduce hair loss.
  • Stress-relieving exercises
  • Summary: Stress is the main cause of hair loss, so you should always practice stress relieving and blood pumping exercises to reduce hair loss.

    Which is the best medicine for hair loss?

    Medicines prescribed for hair loss are:

    • Finasteride
    • Minoxidil
    • Spironolactone (Carospir, Aldactone).
    • Oral dutasteride (Avodart).
    Summary: There are namely four best medicines for hair loss, i.e. minoxidil, finasteride, spironolactone, and oral dutasteride.

    Are the results of the hair loss treatment permanent?

    No, the results of the hair loss treatment are not permanent. These treatments can only help to reduce hair loss and help in regrowth but the results are not permanent.

    Summary: Transplantations and laser therapy can have a longer effect but the results can’t be permanent.

    What are the alternatives to the hair loss treatment?

    Various alternatives to treat hair loss are:

    • Transplant surgery
    • Medications
    • Laser therapy
    Summary: There is only two alternatives for the treatment of hair loss, i.e. medications and surgery.

    Who is eligible for the hair loss treatment?

    Individuals with severe signs or symptoms can go for treatment. If you have baldness or patches on your scalp then you can go for surgery or therapy.

    Summary: The therapy is available to those who have one or more symptoms of hair loss.

    Who is not eligible for the hair loss treatment?

    The therapy is not suitable for users who do not have major symptoms of hair loss. Other medical diseases with distinct symptoms are also ineligible for the treatment.

    Summary: People with severe problems of hair loss are eligible for the surgery.

    What are the hair loss post-treatment guidelines?

    Consult your doctor for post-care treatment guidelines. Some of the post-treatment guidelines include:

    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Reduce the intake of carbohydrates
    • Exercise regularly
    Summary: The most common post-treatment guidelines include: taking a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep your body fit.

    References

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    Written ByDr. Neha Anand Gadodia MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery,DNB - Dermatology & VenereologyDermatology
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    Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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