It’s very normal for everyone to shed some hair each and every day, but excessive hair loss is a big concern for both men and women. It can start with a just a few hairs falling out, or losing some when you comb your hair. Sometimes, this excess hair falling off may later progress to baldness. Baldness refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp which can be either inherited or can be due to certain medications. Hair loss can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Men, women, and even children can experience hair loss. In this article we will look closer at what hair loss is and how you can use PRP for hair loss.
Some people who are less conscious about their appearance do not have any objection to hair loss and they let their baldness run its course without any treatment. However, others who are self-conscious about their thinning hair try to cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats, or scarves. Lastly, some are extremely self-conscious about their hair loss and they choose either medications or some kind of surgery that is available to treat their hair loss.
It is normal for us to shed about 50 to 100 hairs a day, and since we have about a million strands of hair on the scalp, this amount of hair loss does not matter and does not cause noticeable thinning of the hair. Also, gradual thinning is a normal part of aging. As one becomes old, the hair naturally starts to thin out. However, you may become bald if the rate of shedding is more than the rate of re growth or when the new hair is thinner than the old hair that is shed.
Hair Loss Causes
There are many reasons why one would have hair loss and they differ in men and women. To understand why hair loss exists, let us first understand the life cycle of hair.
Our hair goes through cycles of growth and rest, but its course is different for each individual. In general, the growth period lasts for about two to three years, and the hair grows about a centimeter per month. After the growth phase starts receding, the resting phase starts which continues for about three to four months. At the end of the resting phase, the hair strands fall out and new ones begin to grow in its place, thus the growth phase starts again. This cycle may become disrupted due to many reasons.
If you develop a hormonal imbalance or a specific irritation of the scalp, some hair follicles can potentially have a shorter growth phase and produce thinner and shorter hair shafts.
There are specific types of hair loss and the cause for each of them may be different. We need to understand the types of hair loss to better understand what is causing them.
- Pattern baldness: This type of hair loss can occur in both the genders. In this type, the normal growth phase of two to three years is shortened and the hair is also not as thick or sturdy. With each growth cycle, hair becomes rooted more superficially and tends to fall out more easily during shampooing or combing. Some researchers suggest heredity plays a key role in pattern baldness. Heredity also affects the age at which you begin to lose hair, for example, if your mother, father, or any of your grandparents started to lose his/her hair at a certain age, there is a good chance that you may also start losing your hair at the same time in your life. Heredity also affects the developmental speed, pattern, and extent of your baldness.
- Scarring alopecia: This type of hair loss is permanent and is characterized by inflammation of the hair follicle. Inflammation damages the hair follicle and it can cause the hair to fall out. Due to inflammation, the new hair does not grow. This condition may not occur independently and is usually associated with several skin conditions like lupus erythematosus or lichen planus.
- Alopecia areata: This is thought to be an autoimmune disorder (condition where one’s immune system attacks its own tissues), but the exact cause is unknown. People who develop this condition are generally in good health, but a few of them may have other autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease. Researchers believe that some people are genetically prone to get this condition, or a viral infection can contribute to the cause. In this condition, your hair generally grows back with treatment but may again fall out and regrow again. This may happen a number of times.
- Telogen effluvium: In this case, hair suddenly and unexpectedly falls out. It may occur when there is some kind of emotional or physical shock to your system which causes the hair roots to be pushed prematurely into the resting state, but generally within few months, the hair follicles become active again and new hair starts to grow. It may occur after emotional shock, such as the death of a loved one, a high fever due to certain diseases, sudden or excessive weight loss, surgery, or metabolic disturbances. Hair typically grows back once you treat the underlying condition, but it takes a long time and the growth may not be same as the earlier growth.
- Traction alopecia: This kind of hair loss occurs when you pull your hair too tight when you style it. The roots tend to weaken and the hair can fall out.
Another potential cause of hair loss is poor nutrition. Inadequate amounts of protein, iron, or vitamin B12 in your diet can cause you to experience hair loss.
Conditions like diabetes and lupus are two known diseases to cause hair loss.
Certain drugs used in the treatment of gout and arthritis can cause hair loss. Psychological disturbances like depression and heart problems like high blood pressure may cause hair loss in some people. Women on contraceptives (birth control pills) may also experience hair loss.
Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment causes hair loss. These treatments will cause healthy, growing hair to fall out. Once the treatment is over, your hair will likely grow back.
Another common reason for hair loss is hormonal changes and imbalance, and this can cause temporary hair loss especially in women. In a woman’s life, hormonal changes occur during pregnancy, childbirth, after discontinuing birth control pills, at the onset of menopause, or due to an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. During pregnancy, it is normal to have thicker hair, however, it’s common to lose more hair than normal following child delivery.
Chemicals used for dying hair or those used in styling can cause hair to become damaged and fall out, especially if you leave the dye in for an extended period of time.
Over styling using pins and curls, excessive brushing or combing can also cause hair to fall out if the hair shaft becomes damaged.
Fungal infections of the scalp (such as ringworm) can invade the hair and skin of your scalp, leading to hair loss. Once infections are treated, hair generally grows back.
There is one type of psychological disorder or a mental illness which can cause hair to fall out. Patients who are diagnosed with this illness have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, whether it is from the scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of the body. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves them with patchy bald spots on their head.