Types of Hair Loss

Imhealthist | Sunday 20th of September 2015 11:25:20 AM

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While it is normal for a person to lose up to 100 strands of hair daily, anything more than that should be a concern and definitely requires medical advice. Medically, the term ‘alopecia’ is used for hair loss. The reasons behind hair fall are manifold. It can be genetic, incorrect cosmetic procedures, side effects of medication or even a symptom for an underlying disease. Before we go deep into the types, causes and treatment methodologies of hair loss, it is important to know some basic facts about hair and its cycle.

            A human scalp contains around 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles belonging to all the phase of hair life cycle. The life cycle of hair consists of three phase :

Anagen : This is the active or growing phase of hair and constitutes around 90% of hair and has a life span of 2- 6 years. During this phase, the hair grows at a rate of half an inch per month.

Catagen: This is the transition phase between Anagen and Telogen and constitutes around 3% of our hair.

Telogen: This is the resting phase and constitutes around 7% of hair and span goes up to 100 days. During this phase, the hair gets shed and anagen phase of another hair starts from the same follicle.

Hair loss types:

  • Involutional alopecia: This is a natural phenomenon of thinning of hair along with age. The hair follicles in resting phase increases and results in fewer numbers of remaining hairs.
  • Androgenetic alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss (90%) affecting around half of our population. It is also referred as ‘Male pattern baldness (MPB)’ for men and ‘Female pattern baldness (FPB)’ for women. This is a genetic disorder in which the effect of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the hair follicle results in shrinking of hair follicle. Among males, hair loss starts by late teen age and hairline recedes from top and front scalp. This usually leads to horse shoe type baldness and sometimes even to complete baldness. For women, thinning of hair starts from the top of the scalp and gradually spreads.                                                       
  • Alopecia Areata: A patchy or total hair loss occurs in young adults and children when the immunity systems attack the hair follicles by mistake. Usually the hair grows back in couple of years.
  • Alopecia universalis: This auto immune disorder causes fall out of all body hair. Usually the hair grows back and the time taken varies for each individual.
  • Trichotillomania: It is an impulse control disorder in which hair is pulled from scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes. This is observed mostly among children.
  • Telogen effluvium: This occurs when large number of hair enters into the telogen phase resulting in severe hair shedding.  
  • Scarring alopecias: Inflammatory skin conditions and disorders results in scars and causes permanent damage of the hair follicle. This disease constitutes around 3 % of reasons for hair loss. 

Causes:

            Genetics and aging are the major causes of hair loss. Also in few cases, it can be due to an overdose of vitamin A, pregnancy, emotional and physical stress, lack of proteins, anemia chemotherapy, hypothyroid and many more.

Treatment:

            It is not possible to cure hair loss due to genetics, but the loss can be stopped and reversed by treatment. Medications are available in the form of lotions, and drugs and effective results have been obtained. For most of the other ‘non scarring’ type hair losses, over a period of time, the hair grows back again. Hair transplantation surgeries have become excellent remedies for those who wish to have natural growth of hair. Follicular unit extractions (FUE) and Follicular unit transplantations (FUT) are the two types of methodologies practiced by dermatologists and trichologists for hair transplantation.