Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Causes of Hair Loss

“Ana? Oh, that skinny lady with a long, black, shiny hair!  Yea I remember now.”

“Luke? Oh, that tall, handsome, but bald hockey guy?  I remember now!”

Our hair is important.  It is one of the long lists of things that define who we are and how we are remembered by the society.

But hearing about “hair loss” does not normally cause panic to someone as compared to hearing about “losing one’s finger” or “losing one’s eyesight”.  But once you start to experience it, it becomes something that haunts you even in your sleep.

While it is normal to shed of 50-100 hair strands every day, it should alarm someone if he loses more than that on a daily basis.  Abnormal hair loss cannot just happen.  There must be a reason why someone’s hair will fall out – be it mild or severe.  There are many listed causes of hair loss


Hereditary hair loss is the most common form of hair loss and is usually mistaken as a normal occurrence on ageing people.  Hereditary Hair loss, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia or Male & Female Pattern Baldness has a very predictable pattern.  By simply looking at your family’s history of baldness, you can be guided in predicting your own pattern of hair loss.  So if you’re parents, or grandparents, or even your extended family experienced hair loss, you are most likely to inherit that. 


Sudden hormonal changes cause hair loss including child birth, discontinuing birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, underactive or over active thyroid.


Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease wherein then antibodies mistakenly attack the hair follicles and hair falls out in small, round patches.  This attack causes inflammation of the hair root, which weakens and ultimately dies, & stops producing hair.  These small round patches, usually 5 cms in diameter, come and go. 


Hair or Scalp trauma also causes hair loss. 
Traction Alopecia - Tight ponytails pull the hair margins up causing the hairlines to recede.  Trichotillomania - An impulse control disorder, a stress response similar to nail biting, causes one to pull or twist the hair until it breaks off, or rub their hair when they are nervous


Tinea capitis is the ringworm of the scalp and is highly contagious.  The fungi may invade hairshafts or follicles beyond the skin level causing serious hair losses or breakage.


Some medications and long term illness cause hair loss.  Chemotherapy for cancer is one obvious example. 

There is actually no “CURE” for hair loss.  What we can do is prevent it from getting worse and save whatever hair is left on the scalp.

There are already a number of treatments out in the market to prevent hereditary hair loss from getting worse.  Hair loss due to hormonal changes can sometimes be reversed once the problem is treated.  Alopecia Areata, in some cases may be treated, but in some, may not.  Hair loss caused by hair trauma will eventually be reversed once the “unlikely” habits are controlled.  Tinea Capitis can be treated with anti-fungal medications.  Hair loss caused by medication and illness may also be reversed after the treatment is finished.  While all these “treatment” and “reversal” may not be true for all cases, chances are there.  Your hair is important; give your best to save it!

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