On average, the scalp has 100,000 hairs that cycle through periods of growing, resting, falling out, and regenerating, Hair loss may be linked to a person’s genetics, although many medical and behavioral conditions may interrupt the growth cycle and cause hair loss.
If you take certain medicines or have chemotherapy for cancer, you may also lose your hair. Other causes are stress, a low protein diet, a family history, or poor nutrition.
Alopecia (Hair Loss)
Hair loss (Alopecia) is a disorder caused by an interruption in the body’s cycle of hair production. Hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the scalp.
A hair growth cycle consists of three phases:
• During the anagen phase, hair grows actively. This phase may last for years.
• During the catagen phase, hair stops growing and separates from its follicle, which is the structure beneath the skin that holds the hair in place. The catagen phase lasts about 10 days.
• During the telogen phase, the follicle rests for two or three months, and then the hair falls out. The next anagen phase begins as a new hair grows in the same follicle. Most people lose 40 to 90 hairs per day as part of this natural cycle.
If this cycle is disrupted, or if a hair follicle is damaged, hair may begin to fall out more quickly than it is regenerated, leading to symptoms such as a receding hairline, hair falling out in patches, or overall thinning.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting more than 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. Commonly known as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss, androgenetic alopecia is hereditary but can be managed with medication or surgery.
While the patterns of baldness for men and women differ, they both have a common genetic cause.
Male Pattern Hair Loss:
With male pattern baldness, hair loss typically occurs on the top and front of the head. In men, hair loss can begin any time after puberty and progress over years or decades.
It starts above the temples and continues around the perimeter and the top of the head, often leaving a ring of hair along the bottom of the scalp. Many men with male pattern hair loss eventually become bald.
Female Pattern Hair Loss:
With female pattern baldness, thinning occurs on the top and crown of the head. This thinning in women often starts as a widening of the center hair part that leaves the front hairline unaffected.
In women, the hair slowly thins all over the scalp, but the hairline usually doesn’t recede. Many women experience this type of hair loss as a natural part of aging, although hair loss may begin any time after puberty.
Female pattern hair loss can cause hair to thin dramatically but only rarely does it lead to baldness.
A reversible condition in which hair falls out after a stressful experience.
The stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, those hairs can fall out.
In many cases, no treatment is required and the hair often grows back when the stress goes away.
Telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss, occurs when large numbers of follicles on the scalp enter the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, called telogen, but the next growth phase doesn’t begin.
This causes hair to fall out all over the scalp without new hair growth.
Telogen effluvium does not generally lead to complete baldness, although you may lose 250 to 450 hairs per day, and hair may appear thin, especially at the crown and temples.
A medical event or condition, such as a thyroid imbalance, childbirth, surgery, or a fever, typically triggers this type of hair loss.
Telogen effluvium may also occur as a result of a vitamin or mineral deficiency, iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss in women, or the use of certain medications, such as isotretinoin, prescribed for acne, or warfarin, a blood thinner.
Starting or stopping oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may also cause this type of hair loss.
Telogen effluvium usually begins three months after a medical event. Telogen effluvium is considered chronic if hair loss lasts longer than six months.
Anagen effluvium is an abnormal, rapid loss of hair. It can be caused by drugs used for cancer treatment (chemotherapy) or exposure to certain toxic chemicals.
These potent and fast-acting medications kill cancer cells, but they may also shut down hair follicle production in the scalp and other parts of the body.
After chemotherapy ends, hair usually grows back on its own. Dermatologists can offer medication to help hair grow back more quickly.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition, which means the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues, including the hair follicles. This causes hair to fall out and prevents new hair from growing.
This condition can affect adults and children, and hair loss can begin suddenly and without warning. Hair from the scalp typically falls out in small patches and is not painful.
Hair in other parts of the body, including the eyebrows and eyelashes, may also fall out. Over time, this disease may lead to alopecia totalis or complete hair loss.
Treatment may address any underlying conditions and includes topical scalp medication that may help hair regrow.
Tinea capitis, also called scalp ringworm, is a fungal infection of the scalp, involving both the skin and hair. It is also known as scalp ringworm.
Symptoms of tinea capitis include hair loss, dry scaly areas, redness, and itch. Tinea barbae is essentially the same condition involving the beard area.
This condition causes hair to fall out in patches, sometimes circular, leading to bald spots that may get bigger over time.
Treatment may be addressed by an antifungal medication taken by mouth to eliminate the fungus. If tinea capitis is diagnosed and treated early, many of them having excellent hair regrowth.
Cicatricial alopecia, also known as scarring alopecia, is a rare type of hair loss in which inflammation destroys hair follicles and causes scar tissue to form in their place.
It may begin slowly that symptoms aren’t noticeable, or hair may start to fall out all at once.
Other symptoms include severe itching, swelling, and red or white lesions on the scalp that may resemble a rash. This type of hair loss can occur at any age and affects men and women.
Treatment depends on the type of cicatricial alopecia causing your symptoms.
Hair Shaft Abnormalities:
Several types of hair shaft abnormalities can lead to hair loss. These conditions cause strands of hair to thin and weaken, making them vulnerable to breaking.
The hair loss doesn’t occur in the follicle but as a result of a break somewhere along the hair shaft, which is the visible part of a hair strand. This can result in overall thinning, as well as in many small, brittle hairs.
Making simple changes to the way you style and treat your hair can reverse some hair shaft abnormalities. Other conditions may require medical intervention.
Hypotrichosis is a rare genetic condition in which very little hair grows on the scalp and body.
Babies born with this condition may have typical hair growth at first; however, their hair falls out a few months later and is replaced with sparse hair.
Many people with hypotrichosis are bald by age 20. There are few treatment options for this condition, but some medications may help to thicken or regrow.
Ask your friends and loved ones for support. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…
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