Most people lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair each day. Yet, the thinning of scalp hair is almost unnoticeable owing to the simultaneous hair growth filling up the vacant spots. But permanent hair loss occurs if the cycle of shedding and growth is disrupted or the hair follicle is damaged and substituted with a scar tissue.
Few possible causes can be-
Genetic factors- Genetic factors bring about gradual hair loss in both the sexes; resulting in bald spots and a receding hairline in men and the thinning of hair among women. Hereditary factors also determines the age at which you could start losing hair.
Medical conditions- Medical conditions such as hormonal imbalances attack the body’s immune system, thus resulting in damaged hair follicles, scalp infections such as ringworm, skin disorders and hair pulling disorder, a psychological condition that causes people to pull out hair from the scalp, eyebrows or other parts of the body.
Medications- Hair loss can be caused due to intake of certain drugs, such as the ones for birth control or for treating high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, arthritis or cancer. Consumption of excessive Vitamin A can cause hair fall as well.
Stress: Physical and emotional stress can cause hair loss. Surgery, high fevers, and blood loss can cause enough stress to cause excessive shedding. Childbirth can result in hair loss for several months after delivery. As for psychological stress, the link is less well defined, but many people have reported losing hair at times of extreme mental stress or anxiety.
Other Possible Reasons: Other reasons such as radiation therapy to treat cancer, emotional or physical trauma, surgery, extremely high fever or sudden and excessive weight loss can all contribute to hair loss. Hair styling equipment and other chemical based treatments are some of the other triggers of hair loss.
Anemia: Anemia (insufficient red blood cells in the blood), Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (a condition marked by enlarged ovaries and the formation of tiny cysts on the outer edges of the ovaries), thyroid disorders or pregnancy can also result in hair loss.
6 Causes of hair loss you didn’t know about and how you can combat this problem
In order to have healthy volume of hair on your head, the rate of hair loss and replacement should be in tandem. With age, your hair growth cycle shows signs of slowing down and factors like age, disease, and hormonal changes among others affect the pace at which an individual hair follicle moves through the 3 phases of the hair cycle. A disruption in your hair cycle can give rise to loss of hair that’s rapid and unexpected. Hair loss or alopecia can affect both men and women.
So what can cause your hair to fall at an alarming rate?
The reasons behind hair loss could be many, but here are 6 major ones:
1. Lack of protein in your diet
When you exclude protein from your diet, your body starts to conserve the protein that it has by altering the growth cycle of your hair. In such cases, your hair enters into the resting stage, resulting in zero hair growth.
In India, 9 out of 10 people are said to suffer from low amounts of protein in their diet, with 91% vegetarians reporting protein deficiency.
2. Iron deficiency
Iron plays a very important role in the transportation of oxygen to the different organs of the body. Lack of iron in your diet (which is the principle reason behind anaemia) can give rise to several health problems including hair loss. Your body attempts to direct oxygen to important organs so as to support their functioning. As a result, your scalp witnesses a low supply of oxygen, which causes hair loss.
3. Vitamin D-3 deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin D-3 gives rise to a type of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium (TE). This is a temporary hair thinning phenomenon that takes place when the all the hair on your scalp enter the resting phase at the same time, subsequently causing you to shed a large amount of hair later on.
Smoking can also affect the health of your hair, especially the rate at which it falls and the number of strands lost in a day. A research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed that smoking can cause a rise in a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
An increase in DHT level prevents new hair cells from growing and causes hair follicles to reduce in size with each hair cycle. As a result, the area on your scalp that gets affected by DHT experiences a lack of hair growth.
5. Use of testosterone supplements in gym
Intake of testosterone in the form of supplements and injections to build muscle mass can trigger hair loss in men. This takes place when the testosterone in these supplements gets changed into DHT, thereby affecting your hair loss rate and amount.
6. Past illnesses (dengue, TB and typhoid)
Falling of hair can also be brought on by illnesses such as typhoid, TB and dengue as the hair growth cycle comes to a stop. Hormonal or metabolic stress that is experienced during the course of such diseases may cause hairfall.
What are the treatments available to cure hair loss?
1. Hair transplant
Hair transplant is a minimally invasive surgical technique that transfers hair follicles taken from other parts of your body to the balding area. Known by the name of Follicular Unit Transplantation, this hair loss treatment can help to bring back the natural appearance of a fuller head of hair. Hair follicles are harvested using two procedures- follicular unit extraction and strip harvesting. Procedure can vary from 4-8 hours or more depending on the case.
2. Platelet- Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet- Rich Plasma (PRP) is another treatment alternative that can reverse hair loss. It’s a simple non-surgical procedure that lasts about 60-90 minutes. In this form of hair treatment, the patient’s own blood cells, more specifically blood platelets are injected into the scalp. Usually 8 sittings are required with each sitting being 2 weeks apart for better results.
3. Low Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT)
This form of hair therapy utilises light energy of a specific wavelength and threshold to stimulate cellular activity, thereby promoting hair growth. Various controlled clinical tests have revealed its effectiveness in encouraging hair growth in both the genders.
A certain amount of hair loss is normal. This is because each hair follicle goes through an individual cycle of birth, growth, and death. On an average, our hair is replaced every three and a half years. Since each hair follicle has a different rate of growth, all your hair does not grow or fall off at the same time. According to many physicians, losing up to 100 strands of hair a day is normal. However, this can be accelerated by hormone imbalances caused by thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can affect the production of a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT. This makes hair follicles shrink and makes it easier for them to fall out. It also slows regrowth.
Ayurveda likens this hormonal imbalance to an imbalance of doshas. It suggests a number of remedies that can help balance these doshas and stop or reduce hair fall. Ayurvedic remedies are based on herbs and natural ingredients that you may have at home. They are also relatively safe and have negligible side effects. Some popular Ayurvedic remedies for hair loss include:
Scalp Massages: Massaging the scalp with hot oil can help improve blood circulation and improve hair growth. It can also strengthen the hair roots and prevent them from falling off easily. Some of the best oils for a scalp massage to combat hair loss are coconut oil, bhringraj oil, and brahmi oil. Adding crushed garlic and onion to the oil is also known to reduce hair fall. You may oil your hair before an hour or two before a shower or leave the oil overnight.
Eat the right foods: While we think of the hair as dead cells, the hair roots are very much alive and need nutrition. Reduce the amount of salt being consumed and stay away from store bought masalas. Consuming fresh amla or amla juice can help strengthen the hair. You could also boil a cup of milk with three cups of water and 2-3 cardamom pieces till all the water has evaporated and only the milk remains. Drink their milk on an empty stomach for 2-3 menstrual cycles. Thyroid patients experiencing hair loss can also benefit from Ayurvedic preparations such as Ashwagandharishta and Bhringarajasava. However, these should be consumed only under the supervision of an ayurvedic doctor.
Yoga: Certain yoga asanas can also help improve blood circulation and strengthen the liver and uterus. They also help relieve stress that can be a contributing factor towards hair loss. These include the Vajrasana, Pawanmuktasana and the Shirisasana. When practicing these asanas it is important to follow the yogic guidelines and practice only those asanas that suit your body.
Dandruff is a non-contagious condition that is characterized by the appearance of skin flakes on your scalp. The disorder is not a serious one, but can be embarrassing for the person concerned. Mild symptoms of this disorder can be taken care of by shampooing with a mild cleanser on a regular basis. In case of severe dandruff symptoms, treatment may be required.
The symptoms of dandruff are easily spotted; white flakes of dead skin appear on the hair and shoulders. You may experience itchiness on the scalp due to the accumulation of the dead skin cells. The condition tends to aggravate in dry and cold weather conditions.
Dandruff can be caused by a variety of factors such as:
Not shampooing regularly: Irregular shampooing can cause dead skin cells to accumulate, leading to dandruff.
Oily and irritated skin: This condition is characterized by the appearance of greasy skin covered by flaky white scales. It occurs in areas, which are rich in oil glands such as the eyebrows and the nose.
Fungus: Yeast like fungus, known as ‘malassezia’, lives on the scalp and may lead to the buildup of excess skin cells, thereby, causing irritated skin.
Dry skin: Dry skin is the perfect spot for the accumulation of dead cells, a condition that results in dandruff.
Ayurveda places the problem of dandruff in the category of Shudra Roga, which appears due to an imbalance of all three doshas. The primary doshas involved are Pitta and Vata. Pitta is an Ayurvedic humor which symbolizes heat or fire and Vata is dry and rough in nature. In an aggravated state, both doshas cause production of specific impurities, called ama, which are dry and heating in nature.
These impurities accumulate in the deep tissues of the scalp and contaminate them. Contamination of the deep tissues and aggravated Vata-Pitta Dosha cause itching and patches on scalp. Due to these factors, the scalp sheds larger than normal amounts of dead epidermal cells, which leads to the problem of dandruff.
The Ayurvedic line of treatment is to generally pacify Pitta and Vata through herbal medicines, as well as a tailor-made diet and lifestyle plan. Also, special herbs are administered to cleanse the body of accumulated digestive impurities.
Ayurvedic treatment options:
If the cause lies on the scalp such as dry skin, then just hair oil application or local treatment will be sufficient to cure dandruff.
If the cause lies in underlying skin disease such as psoriasis, treatment for the causative disease will be required.
Ayurvedic treatments such as shirodhara, shirobasti helps not only to relieve dandruff and improve hair quality. They also help you to relieve stress and lack of sleep (which also cause for dandruff).
When you think of baldness and hair loss, you may conjure up visions of middle-aged men with shiny heads. But women are not immune. According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), as many as 40 percent of those affected by balding are women. And the American Academy of Dermatology notes that hair loss in general affects more than half of American women by age 50.
In the past, balding and hair loss were dismissed as minor cosmetic problems not requiring treatment. But today, researchers are increasingly recognizing that hair thinning in women is a serious problem that can cause embarrassment and low self-esteem and affect quality of life, if left untreated.
“Women are much more affected socially by hair loss than men,” says Amy McMichael, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston Salem, NC. “Women judge themselves harshly and have fewer coping mechanisms associated with their hair loss than men.”
Hair Thinning: Factors That Affect Women
From hormones to ceramic flat irons used to straighten hair, abnormal hair loss, also called alopecia, has multiple causes that can affect women, including:
Hormones: Androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness, is believed to be triggered by dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Derived from the male hormone testosterone, DHT attacks hair follicles by reducing their size. Although women have far less testosterone than men, menopause can trigger hormonal changes that may cause hair loss. Oral contraceptives can also trigger hair loss in some women.
Androgen index: Progestin implants, hormone injections, and the patch can all contribute to hair loss in women. The AHLA advises all women to use birth control pills with a “low-androgen index,” and women with a family history of hair loss to use non-hormonal birth control.
Stress: Childbirth, surgery, disease, malnutrition, and other forms of stress can cause telogen effluvium, a condition in which women lose hair by the handful. Marital status may also play a role. Researchers from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that women who had experienced the stress of losing a spouse, either to divorce or death, exhibited more hair loss than married women.
Autoimmune disorders: Sometimes the body makes antibodies to its own hair. In alopecia areata, white blood cells assault hair follicles and make hair fall out in patches.
Chemotherapy: By attacking growing hair follicles, chemotherapy can cause almost complete hair loss.
Hairstyles: Braids, cornrows, or other hairstyles that pull hair too tightly can cause hair thinning and hair loss. Other hair-loss culprits include chemicals used to process hair and flat irons.
Hair thinning can be devastating for both men and women, so early intervention is advised, says Dr. McMichael: “As with most medical conditions, the key to controlling the hair loss cycle is to seek treatment early."
Hair Loss Treatments
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for hair loss and thinning hair. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following hair loss treatments:
Testosterone-blocking drugs: As women approach menopause, they have decreasing levels of estrogen compared to testosterone. Treatments geared toward blocking testosterone at the hair follicle, such as Eulexin (flutamide) and Aldactone (spironolactone), are helpful in treating hair loss, according to McMichael.
Rogaine (topical minoxidil): The sole treatment for female pattern baldness to receive FDA approval, Rogaine is available over-the-counter in 2 percent and 5 percent solutions and works by stimulating new hair growth.
Treating underlying problems: Curing an underlying condition that is causing the hair loss, such as an inflammatory disorder, can reverse hair loss problems.
Topical or injected cortisone: This can help reverse some hair loss.
Hair transplantation: This involves surgically moving existing scalp hair to thin spots. “Surgical hair restoration is a very helpful treatment for women because women usually have less bald area to cover than men, so it is easier to make the density of hair look fuller,” says McMichael.
Laser phototherapy: Also known as low-level laser therapy, this new light treatment may help to regrow hair. But McMichael says this therapy needs to be refined because its effectiveness in most patients is not yet proven.
Hope for Thinning Hair
Research continues to dispel the notion that some types of hair loss are permanent. Experts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, for example, recently found that people who struggle with hair loss don’t have dead follicle stem cells, as previously feared — just malfunctioning follicle stem cells, which may be fixable. And another study found that mice with deep skin wounds could regrow hair, sparking hope for a cure for baldness in humans.