Hairloss are of several types and baldness is the commonest and a matter of great concern.
Causes of Hairloss
The cause of hairloss depends on the type of hairloss. Below we are highlighting the most common types and causes of hairloss which we as doctors see in our day to day practice.
Androgenetic Alopecia is a genetic form of hairloss and is common in both men and women. It is referred to as Male Patterned Baldness (MPB) in males and Female Patterned Baldness (FPB) in females. They can experience this type of hairloss as early as twenty years of age. This hairloss is characterized with a receding hairline and balding at the crown first and then would be left with a strip of hair at the back of head and sides in males as it progresses. In females it does not quite progress to a state of complete baldness like males. Women affected by hair loss may show hair thinning on the scalp when hair is parted in the midline. The exposed area resembles a ‘Christmas Tree.’ Timely treatment can save it from progressing into further grades of baldness.
2. Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a temporary hairloss. This happens due to changes in the growth cycle of hair. A large number of hair go into resting / falling phase at the same time causing a lot of hair to fall out. In this type of hairloss it could occur suddenly and be so severe that it becomes thinner in short time but it could also start slow and last longer. This type of hairloss is seen after suffering from fevers, undergoing major surgeries, crash dieting; sudden change in hormones or due to some vitamin deficiency.
3. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is one of the most common forms of patchy hair loss. It manifests as small, bald patches on the scalp. They may appear suddenly or in a relatively short span of time. Patchy hairloss is not life threatening but it can cause significant damage to one’s self image. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition, in which White Blood Cells (WBC) attack and destroy our hair follicles. This causes the hair to rapidly fall out resulting in the formation of bald patches. Alopecia areata is non-contagious and does not spread because of using common combs, hair brush or contact with a person suffering from it. It affects both sexes and all ages.
4. Scarring Alopecia
When the skin gets scarred, hair follicles in the skin are replaced by scar tissue permanently. This is known as scarring hair loss or cicatrical alopecia. Hair loss over such area is permanent and irreversible. Scarring hair loss can affect both men and women and people across all ages. In some cases, it forms slowly, in other instances; it may appear instantaneously, following a scalp injury. The condition typically occurs when the hair follicle is destroyed and is replaced with scar tissue. Put simply, just about any injury or infection of the scalp can lead to a scar tissue. In like manner, scarring hair loss can be triggered by the use of chemical relaxers, perms and hair colour that contains bleach.
5. Some skin conditions that can trigger scarring hair loss are as follows:
Due to prolonged tension of hair follicles by tying tight braids or pony tail can result in traction alopecia.
7. Tinea Capitis
Tinea Capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp. It is also known as ringworm of the scalp. Tinea Capitis is caused by mould like fungi called as dermatophytes. This fungus grows in warm moist areas for example excessive sweating of the scalp. Tinea Capitis can spread easily. It may involve part or the entire scalp. It is mostly seen in children but could be found in few adults. You can get infected with Tinea Capitis if you come in direct contact with someone suffering of it, use infected combs, hats or shaving blades. The affected areas are bald with small black dots due to broken hair, scaly areas of skin that can be red and inflamed, sometimes there could be pus filled tiny sores because of superadded infection and there is intense itching in the affected area. Tinea Capitis can cause hairloss and lasting scars in the scalp.
8. Involution / Senile Alopecia
Involution Alopecia or Senile Alopecia is best described as hairloss in old age. It is a natural condition where the hair follicles remain in resting phase and the hair growth also becomes shorter and density of hair is thinner.
9. Alopecia Prematura
Alopecia Prematura is a condition in which boys who are predisposed to baldness when they grow older start balding at an early age around 15 – 16 years
A rather strange type of hairloss results from compulsive or compelling hair pulling. This is a psychological disorder. It is called Trichotillomania (TTM) – “Tricho” for hair and Mania for such a self inflicted fad. It most often affects women more than men. It also affects young children and teenagers, most often girls than boys- primarily in response to anxiety, peer and parental pressure. Sometimes, the affected individual may also eat their hair! Individuals who suffer from trichotillomania repeatedly pull their own hair from scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes. There is a strong urge to pull hair this gives relief or comfort from anxiety or stress. There is a patchy bald area on the scalp or other areas of the body. There could be thin or missing eyelashes or eyebrows. Individuals would also chew or eat the pulled out hair or play with pulled hair. Hair loss is stopped once the hair pulling obsession is controlled and treated.
Homeopathy: Treatment for Hair loss