Hairs are present all over on the human body except the palms and sole of the feet. Various parts of the body have very fine hairs which are usually not visible. Hairs are basically made up of keratin protein produced in the hair follicles in the outermost layer of the skin. When new hairs are produced the old hairs are thrown out through the skin surface.
About 90% of hairs on the scalp of a person are in growing mode any given time. Every hair follicle has a specific life cycle. Various factors such as age, medication, physical and mental health etc. influence the growth cycle of the hairs.
Each of the above phases have different durations from a few weeks to even years.
The most common problem associated with hair is the loss of it. It can start in any part of life and there are various reasons that are usually associated with this sudden change in the health of hairs and scalp.
It is fact that men suffer more from hair loss compared to women mainly because of male pattern baldness.
But the hair thinning problem is quite prevalent in women also and is equally demoralizing. The reasons range from quite ordinary to of a serious nature, some due to an underlying health problem.
In both males and females the hair loss can be treated depending on the initial cause for the hair loss.
Given below are few common and some not very common reasons that are responsible for hair fall in both the genders.
The physical stress of any kind like trauma, accidents, surgeries or illnesses like fever, flu and others can be a reason for timely hair loss. The hair growth is a cyclic process and has a growth, a shedding and a rest phase. Any type of Physical trauma causes the hairs to go into the shedding phase thus increasing hair loss. This type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. The hair loss becomes obvious after three to five months of the trauma but it will not sustain forever. With the recovery of the body from the trauma, the hair growth will also get back to the normal growth phase.
Pregnancy is a quite stressful time for a woman and giving birth to a child is pretty traumatic. Pregnancy can result in hair loss due to various hormonal changes in the body. It is noteworthy that more hair fall will be observed after giving birth to a child instead of during pregnancy. But once you deliver the baby the hair loss will reduce in a couple of months and new hairs will start growing. It is a normal and natural phenomenon related to pregnancy and birth.
Excessive Intake of Vitamin A:
Intake of Vitamins is mandatory for a healthy body but an overdose of everything is wrong. Having too much Vitamin A supplement or medicines may result in hair loss. Exceeding the recommended daily units of Vitamin A starts shedding the hair. To reduce hair loss it is necessary to maintain the Vitamin A intake in a specified limit. Once the overdose is halted, the problem will be lessened.
All of us know the fact that proteins are necessary for growth and health of hairs. Therefore, lack of enough protein in the diet can have a bad effect on hair growth. So make, fish, meat, eggs and cereals a regular part of your diet.
Genes play a major role in determining the hair growth of a person. The genes of both parents may affect a person’s predisposition to hair loss.
Hormonal changes have a major effect on hair loss. Hormones in the form of birth control pills can cause telogen effluvium. The hormonal changes occurring in women after menopause can have the same effect on hair. It is better to talk to your doctor before switching the hormones or taking birth control pills.
Another condition is polycystic ovarian syndrome in which the hormonal balance in the female body is disturbed. An increased level of androgen hormone in the body leads to infertility, excessive weight gain, and hair thinning. In PCOS male hormones are increased in the female body, therefore, women may suffer from excessive hair growth on face and body.
Emotional stress is also bad for proper hair growth but it is less severe than physical stress. Emotional trauma can occur from any factor like the death of a loved one like parents or children, divorce or parental disputes. Although, it’s not clinically proven that stress has an effect on hair loss or not but it certainly exacerbates the situation, if present. To reduce hair loss it is necessary to combat the anxiety, depression and mental stress.
Anaemia is a common problem among women. Every 1 in 10 women suffers from anaemia due to deficiency of iron. Hyperthyroidism is a condition caused by the decreased activity of thyroid gland. Both Anaemia and Hyperthyroidism causes a decreased hair growth. Hair loss becomes obvious within a few months along with other symptoms. Once the level of iron in case of anaemia and iodine in case of thyroid return to normal, hair loss will decrease.
Autoimmune diseases or Alopecia areata:
Alopecia areata is a result of a hyperactive immune system. The immune system considers hairs as a foreign particle and targets it to destroy it. Steroid injections and Rogaine are used for the treatment of this problem. Other autoimmune diseases include lupus which can cause hair loss. The hair loss from lupus is dangerous because the hair will not regrow once attacked by immune cells.
Hair thinning can also be started after sudden weight loss. It is also a form of physical trauma. Even if weight loss is favourable for you from a health point of view even then it can cause hair fall. The hair fall start due to weight loss can be attributed to the fact that the weight loss may be due to not eating properly, thus, resulting in a deficiency of vital minerals or Vitamins. Generally, this condition is named as Anorexia.
Various Medications causing hair loss :
Various classes of medication also responsible for hair loss. The constant use of these medications for a long duration of time damages hair follicles resulting in hair loss.
Few of them are listed below
There are various drugs that are used in chemotherapy that cause hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs not only destroy chemical cells but also normal body cells. The researchers are striving to find an alternative source that is less detrimental to other body cells.
Another common class of drug involved in hair loss is blood thinners and beta blockers.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, NSAIDS etc.
Anabolic steroids are drugs abused by athletes for muscles build up. They have the same hair loss effect as that of PCOS.
Vigorous styling techniques can cause hair to fall out, as well as revealing particular areas of thinning on the head, for instance, the crown or a wider parting. Over styling regularly such as braiding, curling, straightening can damage the hairs very badly. Over styling regularly such as braiding, curling, straitening can damage the hairs very badly. The use of excessive chemical products like dyes and hair sprays aggravates the problem. It is recommended to use a conditioner after every shampoo and minimize the use of heat driven products. These things affect the roots of the hairs and once hair fall starts then hairs will not grow again.
Trichotillomania Or simply called “ impulse control disorder” in which a person plays with his/her hairs and plucks them or stretch them unnecessarily making them weak. It occurs mostly in females. Trichotillomania and ageing are also triggering factors of hair loss. Regarding ageing, the growth process is slowed down, therefore, hair loss is threatening.
Fortunately, there are treatments for hair loss such as Finasteride, which is worth looking into if you are worried about male pattern baldness. The effectiveness of which is discussed here, alternatively, for some further reading on treatments click here.
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