The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. There is no target population that suffers from this condition. Men, women and children alike can experience hair loss. Different people accept this condition in different ways. Some people are not ashamed of it and prefer to let their baldness go untreated and unhidden. Others try different treatments for hair loss and cover their bald parts with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves.
Normal cycle of hair growth and loss
It is proven that, about 10 percent of the hair in someone’s scalp is in a resting phase. This phase, also called telogen effluvium, lasts about 2 to 3 months, and that the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place. This growing phase lasts for 2 to 6 years. And then the resting phase starts again. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter per month during this phase. Most people shed 50 to 150 hairs a day. Problems begin when some people experience excessive hair loss, which cannot be treated as normal.
Types of baldness
There are two most common types of hair loss:
The most common type of alopecia is also called “common baldness”. It affects almost one-third of men and women. Bad thing about it is that it's usually permanent. Men who suffer from this type of hair loss have usually inherited this trait. It is known that almost every man losses his hair later in life, but when we talk about alopecia androgenetic diagnosis, we should know that having this type of baldness means you are experiencing hair loss as early as in your teen years. In men, this type of baldness typically starts at the temples and crown of the head. Women with this type of alopecia usually have hair loss limited to thinning at the front, sides or crown.
This form of baldness is much different from the pervious type. The first big difference is that it can be a temporary condition. Second, with alopecia areata, baldness usually occurs in small, round, smooth patches. It can involve hair loss on your scalp or other parts of your body.
What causes excessive hair loss?
A number of things can cause excessive hair loss.
Every type of baldness has its own possible causes.
The most common and probably the only cause of androgenetic alopecia is heredity.
The fact that the history of androgenetic alopecia in a family increases the risk of balding has been widely proven. Heredity affects almost every aspect of hair loss - the age at which you begin to lose hair and the developmental speed, pattern and extent of your baldness.
Causes of alopecia areata are still unknown but there are some theories:
The latest researches in this field have shown that alopecia areata could be an autoimmune disease. This means that there are auto-antibodies in our blood that target some structures on the hair follicles and cause baldness. We should also point out the fact that people who develop this type of baldness are generally in good health.
A family history of alopecia areata makes you more likely to develop it. Esthetically, people diagnosed with alopecia areata look better because their hair generally grows back.
There are also several other causes of temporary hair loss and the most common are:
Several serious diseases such as diabetes, lupus and thyroid disorders can cause hair loss. Treating the underlying condition can prevent the hair loss or cause the hair regrowth
Poor nutrition is also a very common cause of temporary baldness. It is easily understood that beside other effects on complete general heath, inadequate protein or iron in diet can also cause hair loss.
Certain drugs that are normally being used to treat gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure may cause hair loss in some people. Birth control pills are also among the medications that may result in hair loss for some women.
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy as a part of cancer treatment may also cause alopecia. After the treatment ends, your hair typically begins to grow.
Fever, flu or surgery
Patients sometimes experience some hair loss three to four months after the events such as an illness or surgery. When the growth phase resumes, the hair loss should be back to normal.
Newborn kids often lose hair during the first several months of life. This primary hair is called vellus-hair and it is being replaced by more permanent hair in the following months.
Some women experience an increase in hair loss several months after delivering a baby.
When the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, hair may fall out easily and this is not such a rare condition. This type of hair loss can usually be helped by the treatment of the thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop the hair loss.
Chemicals that are being used commonly for hair treatments such as coloring or bleaching can cause several hair damaging and hair loss. This condition is known as traction alopecia. The hair needs some time to recover and during this period, no hair treatments should be used!
Several infections can invade the hair and skin of the scalp leading to hair loss. Fungal infection called Kerion Chelsea can cause permanent hair loss while other fungal infections cause temporary hair loss and can usually be treated with a topical or oral antifungal medication.
How to stop hair loss?
It is very important for every patient to know that baldness, whether permanent or temporary, can't be cured. “Cure” sometimes means promoting the hair growth and sometimes hiding the hair loss!
There are several medications made to promote hair growth. Success of the treatment differs from patient to patent and some of the most commonly used medications are:
* Minoxidil (Rogaine®) – This medication can be used for the treatment of both types of alopecia. It comes in a shape of liquid that person massages into the scalp twice a day to promote regrow of the hair and to prevent further loss. The only bad thing about this drug is that the new hair resulting from minoxidil use may be thinner and shorter than previous hair.
* Finasteride (Propecia®) - This medication is aimed at treating male-pattern baldness. It should be taken daily in form of a pill . It works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an active form of testosterone which shrinks the hair follicles and is considered to be an important factor in male hair loss. It may take up to several months until seeing the positive result. Since this drug has hormonal effects it can cause diminished sex drive and sexual function. Another important thing is that Finasteride isn’t approved for use by women, especially the pregnant ones, because it can cause several birth defects.
* Corticosteroids – The most commonly used corticosteroid medication is called cortisone. It comes in a form of injections that are being injected into the scalp and it can treat alopecia areata. Doctors sometimes prescribe corticosteroid pills.
* Anthralin (Drithocreme®) - Synthetic, tarry substance that should be used daily by rubbing it into the scalp and then washing it off. It may stimulate the new hair growth and is used in cases of alopecia areata.
The ideal candidate for hair restoration surgery has well-defined areas of baldness with healthy, dense hairs on the sides and the back of the scalp. There are two types of surgical procedures used to treat baldness and they include:
* Hair transplants and
* Scalp reduction.
A surgeon should only perform one of these operations, but usually both are done in order to achieve the best possible appearance effect.
Transplantation - During the transplantation, a cosmetic surgeon takes tiny patches of the skin from the back or the side of the scalp. Each of these patches is containing one to several hairs. The plugs are then implanted into the bald sections and operation is done. No one should expect that the problem will be solved with one operation only. That’s why several transplant sessions may be needed to improve all the symptoms.
Scalp reduction – This operation is based on decreasing the area of bald skin on head. Surgeon is literally removing the parts of the scalp that are completely hairless and then stretches the remaining scalp skin to close the space. Scalp reduction can be combined with hair transplantation.
Bad things about surgical methods
1. They are very expensive
2. They can sometimes be very painful
3. Sometimes they don’t fulfill the wishes of the patients
Read More: Most Effective Hair Loss Treatments
This is the most common procedure performed by the major hair replacement companies. We are talking about a simple procedure, in which these, non surgical implants are being attached to the existing hair with surgical type glue. Since human hair and coloring is being used, it can match the existing hair system and can look totally natural.
The good thing about this procedure is that it is not nearly as expensive as surgical hair implantation.
The non surgical implants run $65.00 to $75.00 plus tip.
Another good thing about them is that, since these implants are not living hair, they don’t need any special attention and special hair care products that are available from the hair replacement company. The downside to these implants is that they usually need to be replaced four to six times per year.