What causes hair loss?

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss, technically called alopecia and also known as baldness, refers to hair loss from the body, specially the head.

Hair loss can be male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) or general hair loss.  There are numerous reasons for hair loss and they need to be identified before jumping on to conclusions and trying to reverse the process of hair loss.

 

What causes hair loss?

Alopecia (hair loss) has variable reasons and causes and isn’t completely understood. Common causes of alopecia include:

 Androgenic alopecia (Male pattern baldness)

Hair loss in 95% of men is due to male pattern baldness due to androgens. This pattern includes receding of hairs from the sides of the forehead along with balding in the center of head at vertex, which meet eventually resulting in a horse shoe shaped hair ring on the back of head.

 

Nutritional causes

Poor nutrition including reduced intake or deficiency in some of nutrients can result in thinning of hairs.

The nutrient deficiencies include:

  • biotin
  • proteins
  • zinc
  • iron

These deficiencies don’t usually result in total baldness.

Surprisingly the excess of nutrients like vitamin A and animal fats (found in fast foods usually) leads to hair loss too.

 

Infections

There are various infections including skin infections that result in hair loss. These infections include:

  • Fungal infections (including tinea capitis)
  • Folliculitis
  • Dissecting cellulitis
  • Secondary syphilis
  • Demodex folliculorum

 

Drugs causing hair loss

Various drugs can result in hair loss too that can be temporary or permanent, both. These medications include:

  • Antihypertensive medicines
  • Cardiac diseases medicines
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs
  • Diabetic medications
  • Drugs affecting hormonal balance, including:
    • Hormone replacement therapy medicines
    • Steroids
    • Contraceptive pills
    • Acne medications
  • Mycotic infections treatments include drugs that can cause massive hair loss
  • Chemotherapy drugs

 

Trauma and injuries

Trauma to the skin of scalp or hair follicles isn’t due to direct injury only, but also due to ponytails and cornrows insult, called traction alopecia. These individuals injure the scalp with rigorous brushing, heat while styling, massaging the scalp roughly – damaging cuticle that is the outer casing of the hair, or by simply pulling the ponytails or hairs with excessive force.

Some individuals have a disorder near puberty and adulthood in which they pull or bend their hairs, resulting in extraction and permanent loss of hairs in them.

Other traumas include major surgery, poisoning, severe stress, etc. resulting in hair loss and are called telogen effluvium.

Radiations as in radiotherapy damage the irradiated area and results in hair loss.

 

Hair loss management

The first step in managing hair loss is to identify the exact cause of hair loss. If it’s due to some illness, drug or any other controllable factor, it should be managed accordingly.

Non-medical and surgical options include embracing the baldness, using wigs or styling the hairs in a way that the bald area isn’t prominent.

 

Medical treatment for hair loss

Male pattern hair loss can be managed with limited success using certain medications. However they have their own side effects, which can be very serious in some patients, therefore always consult an expert before using any medicine and keep consulting them regularly for review or if you have any symptoms. These medications include:

 

  • Minoxidil
  • Finasteride
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressant’s
  • Anthralin
  • Hormonal modulators
  • Dietary supplements

 

Surgical treatment for hair loss

Surgical treatment option for hair loss includes hair transplant. Hair transplant is done under local anesthesia. The hair that’s transplanted falls off within a few weeks, however the follicle remains and the hair regrows permanently within some months.

Options for hair transplant include:

  • follicle transplant
  • scalp flaps

These procedures are effective but also expensive and painful with a risk of scarring or infection.

Another procedure, scalp reduction, is performed in which the hair less patch of scalp is removed. This procedure is usually done in combination with hair transplant specially in patients with extensive hair loss.

Micro needling is a painless procedure and is considered to stimulate hair growth too.

 

Most effective treatments for hair loss

It’s not possible to define any single best treatment for hair loss in all individuals. Deciding which treatment would be best for specific case depends on the cause of hair loss and various factors specific to each individual and their general health.

For example minoxidil is effective for male pattern baldness and alopecia areata but is not effective for other types of hair loss. Finasteride is good for some patients but in most patients it leads to severe side effects and is thus not recommended without doctor’s prescription, etc.

Hair transplant is considered effective these days but the best one has to be discussed specific to your case with your doctor.

 

Natural regeneration

After identifying the exact cause of your hair loss and discussing with your doctor, certain natural regeneration tips can be used to regrow your lost hair, including:

  • Head massage with oils like coconut, olive, almond, sesame, etc.
  • Using wide tooth wood comb
  • Eating flax seeds
  • Regular healthy exercise
  • Avoid caps and hair styles that put pressure on the hair roots and scalp
  • Use Amla, eat and use as oil
  • Have fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Manage hormonal imbalances if any
  • Have diet rich in vitamin B complex, biotin and vitamin B6 specially
  • Have foods rich in vitamin E to prevent hair breakage
  • Have foods rich in iron like green leafy vegetables, berries, leeks, cashews, etc.

Before trying any regime, especially the ones including medications, it’s important to consult an expert and see if they suit your specific case and if they’re safe for you. If you feel any symptoms with them stop using them immediately and consult your physician!