Hair loss is the loss of hair primarily from the scalp and alternatively from the body can occur due to a variety of reasons that include medical conditions, side effects of medications, heredity and hormonal changes. Hair loss is also called alopecia.
Adults have an average of about 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on the scalp and tend to lose 50 to 100 strands per day. Hair follicles are responsible for the growth of new hair. Hair follicles have a life cycle that is dependent upon factors such as genetics, age, medical conditions amongst others. As the life cycle of each hair follicle is independent of the other, it could lead to growth in some follicles and shedding of hair in others. This could sometimes create patches of hair loss or hair thinning in few areas.
Types of hair loss
It is important to understand the various types of hair loss.
1. Involutional Alopecia – Gradual loss of hair with aging.
2. Androgenic Alopecia – It is a genetic condition that affects both men and women. In male pattern baldness, a receding hairline and loss of hair from the crown are the characteristics. In female pattern baldness an overall thinning of hair, especially near the crown is observed.
3. Alopecia Areata – A condition that causes patches of hair loss from specific areas.
4. Telogen effluvium – A large number of hair follicles enter the resting phase at the same time causing hair loss and thinning of hair
5. Scarring Alopecias – Few medical conditions like folliculitis or cellulitis may result in scarring of the scalp that prevents the growth of new hair.
The symptoms include thinning of hair from the scalp and a receding hairline in men and a general thinning of hair from the crown for women. In few cases, patches of loss from specific areas occur.
There are a few treatment options available.
1. Topical application of drugs – Application of medications like minoxidil can stimulate the growth of new hair.
2. Oral medication – The medication can prevent hair loss and promote hair growth.
3. Hair Transplantation – A part of the scalp containing active hair follicles is identified, retrieved and prepared to be transplanted into an area with minimal or no hair growth.