What is the normal hair loss in an individual per day? Why does it occur?

It is perfectly normal to shed about 30 to 50 hair per day.  The hair passes through three phases during its growth cycle.

  • The growing phase  (Anagen) – 2-6 yrs.
  • The transitional phase (Catagen) – 3 months.
  • The resting phase (Telogen)- 3-10 days.

 

During the resting phase, the hair stops growing, separates from the root, develops a club like tip and is eventually shed. About 15% of the hair is in the resting phase and are shed.

Since, the club hairs are not firmly attached to scalp, they are easily dislodged by washing, combing and brushing.

What are the causes of excessive hair loss?

Individuals, who notice that they are shedding more than the normal   amount, should consult a dermatologist.

The various causes are:

  1. High fever, severe chronic illness (e.g. tuberculosis, typhoid, lupus Erythematosus) - Hair loss occurs 6 weeks to 3 months after the illness and is temporary.
  2. Stress- physical- major surgery, child birth, accidents
  3. Psychological stress eg:-death of a family member
  4. Hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism.
  5. Drugs – Anticoagulants- coumarins, heparins.
    • Oral contraceptives pills
    • Beta blockers
    • Vit A in high doses
    • Antidepressants (Lithium.)
    • Captopril, enalapril
  6. Hormonal abnormalities in females can result in hair loss along with acne, hirsurism, obesity and infertility. Menopause and hormone supplementation therapy are other causes.
  7. Crash diets, starvation, iron deficiency anemia
  8. Male pattern baldness

Is hair loss occurring after child birth permanent? What should you do about it?

This is called post-partum alopecia. After child birth, large amounts of hair, which are not lost during the pregnancy, are thrown in the resting phase and shed.

Hair loss begins 2-3 months after delivery, lasts for 1-6 months and then normal hair growth resumes.  Treat your hair gently, use a soft brush, shampoo gently and pat your hair dry. Be patient, this type of hair fall is only temporary.

Can tight plaiting of hair cause hair loss?

Yes, any type of prolonged traction on the hair can cause temporary hair loss called traction alopecia. Tight ponytails and sleeping with tight rollers are other causes.

Does diet influence hair loss?

Diets severely deficient in protein will influence hair growth as hair is composed of proteins. Hence, adequate proteins in the form of meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, soyabeans, tofu, grains and nuts should be taken.

Starvation, anorexia nervosa and crash diets, may lead to reversible hair loss.

Why do some patients have patches of baldness? What is this disorder?

This is called alopecia areata. It begins as 1 or 2 round, smooth bald patches on the scalp, beard or moustache. The onset is sudden; the patches may grow bigger or hair may regrow spontaneously. The cause of alopecia areata is unknown. It is believed by some to be an autoimmune disease i.e. the body reacts to the pigmented hair as it would to foreign bodies and destroys them. It is not contagious.

What is male pattern baldness?

The pattern of hair loss seen in these patients is that of a receding hairline and may lead to permanent hair loss. It occurs in 40% of men between the ages of 18 and 39.

The 3 primary factors responsible are:

  1. Heredity – men inherit the tendency from the mother’s side.
  2. Male hormones – in certain individuals, the hair follicles on the scalp are more sensitive to the amount of male hormone produced.
  3. Age – early onset of hair loss may lead to extensive baldness.

Do women also develop similar type of baldness?

Yes, many women develop diffuse thinning of the hair, as they grow older. This is female pattern baldness. It may be seen first after menopause. Heredity plays a major role. In women the trait is inherited more from their father.

What are the newer treatments available for treating hair fall?

Treatment for hair fall includes use of topical preparations like minoxidil 2 or 5 %, solutions containing growth factors, oral nutritional supplements containing biotin and other vitamins.

Specialized treatments like use of hair regrowth laser ( LED ) or stem cell injections in the scalp with or without dermaroller, electroporation etc. Ask your dermatologist what treatment is best for you.