Hair fall is a very common condition and affects most people at some time in their lives. Hair follows a specific growth cycle due to which one can shed 50-100 hairs per day which is normal. But when your comb starts getting clogged with hair or you start to notice receding hairline and bald patches, there might be a problem.
Hair loss isn’t just a cosmetic problem. Although it may be genetic, hair loss can also indicate some form of imbalance in the body.
Hair is made up of a protein called ‘keratin’ that is produced in hair follicles in the outermost layer of the skin. As a person grows old, the rate of hair growth drops.
Hairfall, otherwise known as Alopecia, has many types. Some of these are:
Involutional alopecia: It is a natural condition in which the hairline gradually recedes with age.
Androgenic alopecia: It is a genetic condition which causes male pattern baldness.
Alopecia Areata: This condition usually has a sudden onset resulting in patchy hair loss in children and young adults. This condition may result in complete baldness. But in a majority of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years.
Alopecia Universalis: This condition causes all body hair to fall out, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair.
Female pattern baldness: This is a distinctive type of hair loss that occurs in women. Androgenic alopecia in women causes baldness, resulting in hair fall and reduction of hair volume at the scalp.
Common causes of hair loss
Hormones: Abnormal levels of androgens can cause hair loss.
Genes: Genes from both male and female parents influence predisposition to male or female pattern baldness.
Fungal infection: Ringworm infection can potentially cause hair loss.
Drugs: Chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, and oral contraceptives can cause hair loss.
Autoimmune disease: Sometimes, immune system, for unknown reasons affects the hair follicles resulting in complete baldness. Usually, in such cases, the hair grows back with time.
Cosmetic procedures: Using hair products like shampoo and other hair products like dyes can cause overall hair thinning.
Medical conditions: Disorders like thyroid disease, diabetes, iron deficiency, and anorexia can cause hair loss.
Diet: A low-protein diet or severely calorie-restricted diet can potentially cause hair loss temporarily.
Psychological stress: Psychological or emotional stress can lead to hair loss. In some cases, hair fall can result from physical stress also.
How to prevent hair loss
- Limit use of hair dryers and other devices that heat your hair.
- Prevent using hair dyes frequently. The chemical content can cause serious damage to the hair.
- Wash hair regularly with a mild shampoo to prevent infections that might lead to hair fall.
- Include food rich in Iron, proteins, biotin, Omega-3 fatty acid, and vitamin C in your diet.
- Prevent consumption of artificial sweeteners like Aspartame which has been cited as a cause of hair thinning and hair loss.
- Consult a doctor if you are losing hair in an unexpected pattern.
Dr. Shreeshail Kumbar
MBBS, DDVL – Dermatology