FAQ | Hair Loss

Most of the hair disorders are treated by costly quacks. And worst thing is that most of the patients are highly educated. Some of them get improvement by spontaneous recovery (eg telogen effluvium and alopecia areata) and by placebo effect. Anyone troubled by hair loss should see a dermatologist. There is no separate trichology degree after undergraduate medical course. All dermatologists specialize in treating our skin, hair, and nails. Scalp has approximately 1,00,000 hair follicles. In that 80-90% hair follicles are in growing phase (anagen) and 10-20% hair follicles are in resting phase (telogen). Each hair grows 1c.m per month. Each hair grows 2-6 years. Then hair goes to resting phase for 3 months. This is called hair growth cycle. So all hairs grows and falls again to grow back. Each hair grows and falls 10-20 times in its life time. Every day up to 100 hairs fall per day is normal. There can be wide variation number of hair fall per day.

Hair loss is also called alopecia. Everyone loses hair. It is normal to lose about 50-100 hairs every day. If you see bald patches or lots of thinning, you may be experiencing hair loss. There are many causes of hair loss. The most common cause of hair loss is a medical condition called hereditary hair loss. Most causes of hair loss can be stopped or treated. For male most common cause for diffuse hair loss is male pattern alopecia. For females most common cause for hair loss is iron deficiency, thyroid problem, polycystic ovarian disease. Women may notice hair loss after giving birth. People under a lot of stress can see noticeable hair loss. Traction alopecia: Hairstyles that constantly pull on the scalp cause this type of hair loss. Some people see their hair re-grow without doing anything. Others need treatment for their hair to re-grow. Sometimes, hair will not re-grow.

Hereditary thinning or baldness (also called androgenetic alopecia): This is the most common cause of hair loss. It affects men and women. When men have hereditary hair loss, they often get a receding hairline. Many men see bald patches, especially on the top of the head. Women, on the other hand, tend to keep their hairline. They see noticeably thinning hair. The first sign of hair loss for many women is a widening part. In rare cases, men see noticeably thinning hair. And in rare cases, women can see a receding hairline or bald patches. The reasons for this are unknown. Alopecia areata: This is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune means the body attacks itself. In this case, the white blood cells attacks its own hair. This causes smooth, round patches of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body. People with alopecia areata are often in excellent health. Most people see their hair re-grow. Dermatologists treat people with this disorder to help the hair re-grow more quickly. Patients receive shots every 3 to 6 weeks. Hair growth begins about 4 weeks after the last shot. Sometimes, it takes longer. Topical corticosteroids are less effective than shots. This is often the best treatment for children. Diphencyprone (DPCP): This medicine is applied to the bald skin. It causes a small allergic reaction. When the reaction occurs, a patient has redness, swelling, and itching. Dermatologists believe this allergic reaction tricks the immune system, causing it to send white blood cells to the surface of the scalp. This fights the inflammation. It also prevents the hair follicles from going to sleep, and causing the hair loss. With DPCP, it can take 3 months for the hair to start re-growing. Scarring alopecia: This rare disease develops in otherwise healthy people. The disease destroys a person’s hair follicles. For adults with alopecia areata, corticosteroid shots are often the first treatment tried.

Underlying medical condition: Hair loss can be the first sign of a disease. About 30 diseases, including thyroid disease and anemia, cause hair loss. By treating the disease, hair loss often can be stopped or reversed. Significant hair loss can occur after an illness. A major surgery, high fever, severe infection, or even the flu can cause hair loss. Your dermatologist may call this type of hair loss telogen effluvium. Some cancer treatments: Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause hair loss. This hair loss is often temporary, but it can cause great distress. After giving birth, some women have noticeable hair loss. Menopause: Hair loss is common during menopause. This loss is often temporary. Hair re-grows with time. If a woman is 40 years of age or older, she should not expect her hair to have the fullness that it did when she was younger. Stress: Experiencing a traumatic event (e.g., death of a loved one or divorce) can cause hair loss. Dieting and poor nutrition also can cause hair loss. Weight loss: Some people see hair loss after losing more than 15 pounds. The hair loss often appears 3 to 6 months after losing the weight. Vitamin A: Too much vitamin A can cause hair loss. People can get too much of this vitamin through vitamin supplements or medicines. Once the body stops getting too much vitamin A, normal hair growth resumes. Protein: When the body does not get enough protein, it rations the protein it does get. One way the body can ration protein is to shut down hair growth. About 2 to 3 months after a person does not eat enough protein, you can see the hair loss. Eating more protein will stop the hair loss. Meats, eggs, and fish are good sources of protein. Vegetarians can get more protein by adding nuts, seeds, and beans to their diet. Iron: Not getting enough iron can lead to hair loss. Good vegetarian sources of iron are iron-fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach. Clams, oysters, and organ meats top the list of good animal sources of iron. Some prescription medicines can cause hair loss. These include: blood thinners, high-dose vitamin A, medicines that treat arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems, and high blood pressure. Anabolic steroids (steroids taken to build muscle and improve athletic performance) may cause hair loss.

Your hairstyle and even some of the products you use on your hair can cause hair loss. Frequent bleaching or permanents can cause the hair to break. Regular or improper use of dyes, gels, relaxers, and hair sprays also can cause hair breakage. Dermatologists recommend limiting use of these hair products. Less use often means less hair breakage. Blow dryers, flat irons, and other devices: Frequent use of a blow dryer tends to damage hair. The high heat from a blow dryer can boil the water in the hair shaft leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage. Dermatologists recommend that you allow your hair to air dry. Then style your hair when it is dry. Dermatologists also recommend limiting the use of flat irons (these straighten hair by using high heat) and curling irons. Hairpins, clips, and rubber bands: When used to hold hair tightly, hairpins, clips, and rubber bands can break hair. Here are dermatologists’ tips for choosing these: Years of wearing hair in a style that pulls on the hair such as a ponytail, cornrows, or braids can cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. The following practices often cause the hair to break: Too much shampooing, combing, or brushing Rubbing wet hair dry with a towel. Brushing or combing wet hair (especially people who are Asian or Caucasian). For many people, hair is more elastic when wet. This means it breaks off more easily than dry hair. When hair breakage occurs, the hair appears shaggy or too thin.