Hair loss is something that everyone goes through. In fact, most men experience significant hair thinning by the time they reach their fifties and begin worrying about their hair only when they hit their forties. Recent research indicates that men in their twenties could be heading towards balding today as opposed to in their forties! Researchers have identified a gene that could predispose a person to balding or hair thinning. It doesn’t stop there; hair loss could be an indicator of some other underlying issue. Early hair loss could be traumatic for the person to deal with and cause emotional scars too. Hair loss is thus a complex and multifaceted issue. Such being the case, it is important to understand the causes of hair loss and take remedial steps.
Understanding the Cycle of Hair Growth
There are anywhere between 100k to 150k hair follicles on the scalp. It is quite normal to lose about 50-100 strands a day. Anything more and we could be looking at a potential problem. Hair loss and growth happen parallelly and hair typically passes through three main stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Anagen is the growth phase and lasts for two to six years while catagen is the stage where the hair begins to break and moves on to the final stage (telogen) where it falls off and new hair starts growing again.
When should you worry?
You should begin to worry about hair loss when you are shedding more hair than usual and when you don’t find new hair growing back. Watch out for the following:
- Shedding hair from a particular region
- Bald Spots
- Hairline is receding
- Changes in the hair texture
- Excessive sebum secretion
- Loss of hair in other body parts
- Blisters or pustules in the scalp
It is important to consult a dermatologist in case you find any of these symptoms. Early treatments can help combat the problem and rejuvenate your hair.
Different Types of Hair Loss
There are different kinds of hair loss in men and usually, these happen because of factors that disrupt the hair’s normal growth cycle. Hair loss is medically termed as alopecia and its types are:
This is also known as Alopecia Areata and usually results in patchy hair loss. It happens due to autoimmune conditions in most cases and could lead to complete balding. In a few cases, the condition could be temporary and the hair might eventually grow back.
Male Pattern Balding
The condition is also called androgenic alopecia and begins mostly during the late teens or early twenties. It is genetic and may cause gradual receding of the hairline and eventually lead to complete balding in a few years. In some cases, the hair loss is accelerated when its combined with other underlying conditions such as lupus, endocrine disorders or autoimmune conditions.
Universal Hair Loss
Also known as Alopecia Universalis, the condition causes a person to lose hair all over the body – scalp, face, arms, legs, pubic region and even in the eyelashes. This is the most severe form of alopecia and is irreversible in some cases.
Total Hair Loss
The condition can cause hair loss in the facial region (eyes, lashes, etc.) apart from the scalp and is called Alopecia Totalis. It can progress gradually or at a rapid pace and varies from person to person. It can affect anyone from children to adults.
Hair Loss in the Beard region
This condition affects only men and causes smooth hairless regions in the beard. It is also known as Alopecia barbae and is very common.
Pulling Out Hair
This is a condition that affects children and younger adults. It is termed as trichotillomania and is attributed to stress triggered OCD. It may cause permanent damage to the hair follicles and prevent regrowth.
Anagen and Telogen Effluvium
Anagen effluvium is a condition that affects hair that is in the anagen phase and is usually due to treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Hair does grow back post the treatment period in this case. Telogen effluvium is a condition that affects hair in the telogen phase and is primarily caused due to mental stress and hormonal imbalances/endocrine disorders. This too is temporary in most cases and hair usually grows back when the body returns to normalcy.
Destruction of hair follicles
This condition is caused due to various causes such as autoimmune disorders, a mild form of lupus(called discoid lupus), scleroderma or folliculitis decalvans. It is also known as scarring alopecia and is a permanent condition (hair doesn’t grow back) that is mostly found in adults.
Treating Hair Loss with Natural Remedies
Having a healthy and balanced diet, a proper care routine for your hair and managing stress effectively can prevent the early onset of hair loss. The following natural remedies are effective in combating hair fall:
- Oil massage – mustard, olive, and coconut oil massages help improve the circulation in the scalp. Mustard oil and henna when warmed and applied together to bald patches, help with hair growth.
- Eggs, aloe vera, fenugreek, Indian gooseberry, henna, triphala, indigo, acacia concinna, and onions are great for the hair and help in invigorating hair growth.
Other Treatment Options
The following are the most popular treatments for stopping or slowing hair loss. The dermatologist might recommend any/ one of the following treatments:
Minidoxil – The first line of defense
It is primarily used to boost hair regrowth and thus helps maintain thick and healthy hair. Doctors usually suggest this as the first course of treatment in case of excessive hair shedding or thinning. It is usually prescribed only for adults.
Finasteride – For slowing hair loss
This is a popular product used by most people suffering from hair thinning or patchy hair loss or receding hairlines. It helps in hair regeneration, increases hair volume and dramatically slows hair loss. It prevents testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is an androgen and causes problems to the hair follicles leading to male pattern baldness. However, Finasteride may have some side effects and it is important to consult a dermatologist before opting for any medication for your hair fall.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – For stimulating hair loss without surgery
This procedure is relatively new and is still in its nascent stages in terms of research. Since it’s a minimally invasive procedure with very less recovery time, it is being increasingly recommended by dermatologists across the globe.
What is done in PRP?
It involves extracting the plasma from blood from the patient using a centrifuge and injecting it into the scalp. Platelets are tiny cells that are present in the blood that aid in recovery and healing by forming clots at the site of the injury. They are known to stimulate tissue recovery and were thus used for tissue regeneration and wound recovery initially. Owing to their ability to stimulate hair follicles, they are now used to treat patients with hair loss complaints.
When is PRP recommended?
Your dermatologist might recommend PRP for you in case you don’t have chronic skin conditions or blood disorders. People with smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse habits may not be eligible for the treatment as it involves extraction of blood and injecting the plasma extracted into the scalp.
Hair loss should be treated at the onset and managed effectively to ensure that it is reversed. Even in cases where it is impossible to prevent the loss, slowing the condition is very much possible. At mfine, you can consult expert dermatologists online and get a customized treatment plan to combat your hair loss.