Hair loss

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Hair loss is something that many people go through as they begin to age. It tends to be inherited although there can be other causes such as stress, iron deficiency or an under active thyroid.

[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

Most people assume that only men suffer from hair loss. This, however is not true. Millions of women around the world suffer from some form of hair loss or the other, and these numbers appear to be rising each year.

The single biggest cause of hair loss is genes. However, people disturbed by their diminishing locks commonly wonder whether they have inadvertantly done something that has resulted in hair loss. And interestingly, new research on Hair Loss indicates that certain behaviour tend to increase the risk of balding. For example, a report in the November 2007 issue of Science Daily reported that smoking may play a role in androgenic alopecia. Smoking may destroy hair follicles, damage the papilla that circulate blood and hormones to stimulate hair growth or increase production of the hormone estrogen, which may counter the effects of androgen. [1]

Improper hair care techniques, a surfeit of chemical shampoos and an increased use of hair colour have all contributed to a generation beset by hair loss woes.

[edit] All about hair loss

Hair grows in cycles—it grows, rests, and then falls out. Usually, this cycle repeats approximately yearly. At any time, about ninety percent of a person’s scalp hair is growing, a phase that lasts between two and six years. Ten percent of the scalp hair is in a resting phase that lasts between two and three months. At the end of its resting stage, the hair goes through a shedding phase.

Shedding 50 to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. When a hair is shed, it is replaced by a new hair from the same follicle located just beneath the skin surface. Scalp hair grows about one-half inch a month.

Hair is made up of a form of protein, the same material that is found in fingernails and toenails. Everyone, regardless of age, should eat an adequate amount of protein to maintain normal hair production. Protein is found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, some cheese, dried beans, tofu, grains, and nuts. Abnormal hair loss can be due to many different causes, but about 50 percent of the population experience normal hair loss by the time they reach 50. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out should consult a dermatologist.

[edit] Causes of hair loss

Hair loss in males is mostly because of genes. A 2004 study showed that adjusting for age, men whose fathers had hair loss were 2.5 times as likely to have had some level of hair loss compared to men whose fathers had no hair loss. [2] Doctors call this Androgenic Alopecia. There are, however other causes for hair loss too.

  • Childbirth – two to three months after childbirth, many women tend to lose a lot of hair.
  • High fever, severe infection, major surgery or any significant life stressor – these cause hair to fall four weeks to three months later. While this hair loss is usually not permanent, it may need to be medically treated.
  • Thyroid disease – both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. The hair loss associated with thyroid disease can be reversed with proper treatment.
  • Diet that has inadequate proteins – vegetarians, crash dieters and people with strange food fetishes may develop protein malnutrition. This causes hair fall. This condition can be reversed by eating the proper amount of protein.
  • Medications and prescription drugs – these can cause temporary hair shedding in some people. Examples of such drugs are blood thinners, some drugs used to treat gout and arthritis, acne, or psoriasis, and some medications for heart problems.
  • Cancer treatment drugs – chemotherapy invariably causes hair loss in one to three weeks. The hair usually regrows after treatment ends.
  • Birth control pills -- Women who lose their hair when taking birth control pills usually have an inherited tendency towards hair thinning.
  • Low iron -- Iron deficiency sometimes produces hair loss. Low iron can be detected by laboratory tests and corrected with iron pills.
  • Alopecia areata. In this type of hair loss, hair usually falls out, resulting in totally smooth, round patches about the size of a coin or larger. This disease may affect children, women or men of any age.
  • Infections. Ringworm, or tinea capitus, is a common fungal infection in children. Patches of hair may be lost and replaced with pink scaly skin.

[edit] Conventional hair loss treatments

If hair loss is caused by a temporary situation such as medication, stress or insufficient iron, however, however, the hair loss will stop when its cause ends. Hair loss due to infection may require oral antibiotics or anti-fungals.

Alopecia areata can be treated with injections of steroids such as triamcinolone into the area. For all of the causes, early treatment works the best.

Over the past decade in particular, treatments for hair loss have made huge advances. Hair loss medication like Propecia (finasteride), Avodart (dutasteride), and to a lesser degree topical treatments like Rogaine often can stop or even reverse hair loss in most people.

  • Done right, hair transplants are so natural that even a hair stylist cannot detect that a person has had a hair transplant. *Hair replacement systems or “hair systems” have also improved and become more refined. Those who are extensively bald and want to restore a full looking head of hair may find a hair replacement system to be appropriate.
  • Topicals, like sprays and applications, also may give a semblance of a much fuller head of hair.

[edit] Natural treatments

Acupuncture is a safe and painless way to reduce and regain hair loss. Its goal is to increase the blood flow to the head, which helps the damaged cells in the head and scalp to repair themselves. This increases the likelihood of new hair growing. Although not everyone is willing to stick needles in their body to heal a specific area, acupuncture has become widely accepted throughout society. Aside from being a complimentary hair loss treatment, it can also be used to release tension and help relax muscles throughout your body.

Homeopathy has several medicines for hair loss. A qualified homeopath’s arsenal of remedies includes fluoric acid, lycopodium, kali carbonicum, kali sulphuricum, natrum mur, phosphorus, selenium and tissue salts. What a homeopath actually prescribes depends on the problem’s nature and severity. Results from the homoeopathic approach can take a longer time, but they are very often dramatic. Effective treatment of hair loss with homeopathy depends on accurate dilution ratios. In other words, it is not a ‘do-it-yourself’ option.

Aromatheraphy has been used successfully by some people to treat thinning hair and bald patches. The aroma blend is massaged into the scalp for two minutes each night, and then the scalp is wrapped in a towel, to increase absorption of these oils. The essential oils suitable for treating alopecia include ylang ylang, roman chamomile, rosemary, lemon, lavender, grapefruit, and bay.

For a home blend, try this recipe --

In a half a teaspoon of jojoba oil and 4 teaspoons of grapeseed oil, mix all the essential oils and rub this mixture into your scalp for at least two minutes. Use a warm towel to wrap your head in afterwards. Not only does it feel relaxing, but it helps the oils absorb.

[edit] Herbal remedies

Here are some herbal remedies that work.

Aloe Vera balances the pH of the scalp and heals from within.. A general remedy of Aloe Vera gel with coconut milk and small amount of wheat germ oil used as a shampoo has shown great benefits. Aloe Vera surely helps you stop hair loss.

Jojoba is great for treating eczema, psoriasis, dandruff or seborrhea. It works well for hypoallergenic skin, as is a good moisturizer. This is one of the best hair loss treatment products.

Henna is a good natural conditioner and works great as hair loss treatment product. It heals hair shaft by sealing the cuticle and repairing, stops breakage and restores the silky-shiny effect of your hair.

Lemongrass helps stabilizing oil product in the scalp. It also provides nourishment to the hair.

It is recommended that you consult an expert to know which hair loss treatment product is suitable for you.

  • American Hair Loss Association
  • Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia
  • Hair Loss Talk
  • Hair Loss: Mayo Clinic
  • Hair Loss Treatments
  • Prevent Early Bald Spots
  • Male Pattern Baldness
  • Hair Loss and Its Causes

[edit] See Also