Hair loss is a common problem that affects people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. It can be distressing and impact one’s self-esteem and confidence. But before we discuss the different causes and cures for hair loss, it’s important to understand the basics of hair growth.
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, which is produced in hair follicles in the skin. Hair growth occurs in three phases:
- Anagen: This is the active growth phase that can last between two to seven years. During this phase, hair follicles divide rapidly, and hair grows about 1 cm per month.
- Catagen: This is a transitional phase that lasts for about two weeks. Hair growth stops, and the hair follicle shrinks.
- Telogen: This is the resting phase that lasts for about three months. The hair follicle is at rest, and the old hair falls out.
After the telogen phase, the hair growth cycle starts again, and new hair replaces the old hair.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur due to several factors, including:
Family history plays a significant role in determining hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, is the most common type of hair loss caused by genetics. It affects both men and women and is characterized by a receding hairline and thinning hair on the top of the head.
Hormonal imbalances can also cause hair loss. For instance, women can experience hair loss during pregnancy, menopause, or when they have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Men, on the other hand, can experience hair loss due to an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shrinks hair follicles.
Several medical conditions can cause hair loss, such as thyroid disorders, alopecia areata, and scalp infections. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also lead to hair loss.
Poor nutrition, stress, and certain hairstyles can also cause hair loss. A diet lacking in essential nutrients, such as protein, iron, and zinc, can affect hair growth. Stress can cause hair loss by pushing hair follicles into the telogen phase prematurely. And hairstyles that pull on the hair, such as tight braids or ponytails, can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia.
Lack of certain nutrients, such as iron, can lead to hair loss.
Stress can cause hair loss, especially if it is prolonged or chronic.
Hair Loss Treatments
The treatment for hair loss depends on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatments:
Medications such as minoxidil and finasteride can help slow down hair loss and promote hair growth. Minoxidil is a topical medication that is applied to the scalp, while finasteride is taken orally.
Hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves taking hair follicles from one part of the scalp and transplanting them to another part of the scalp where hair is thinning or balding. The success of the procedure depends on the skill of the surgeon and the quality of the hair follicles.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
PRP therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of platelets obtained from the patient’s blood into the scalp. The growth factors in the platelets can stimulate hair growth and promote healing.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is a non-invasive treatment that uses red light therapy to stimulate hair growth. It can be done at home using a laser cap or in-office using a specialized device.
Preventing Hair Loss
Hair loss can be a distressing experience for many people, but there are some things that you can do to help prevent it from happening. Here are some tips to keep your hair healthy and strong:
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for keeping your hair healthy. Make sure to include plenty of protein, which is essential for hair growth. Foods like eggs, nuts, and fish are great sources of protein. Also, make sure to get plenty of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron and zinc.
Avoid harsh treatments
Avoid using harsh chemicals on your hair, such as perms, relaxers, and hair dyes. These treatments can damage your hair and lead to breakage and hair loss.
Be gentle with your hair
Avoid pulling your hair back tightly, as this can cause breakage and hair loss over time. Also, be gentle when brushing or combing your hair, as rough treatment can cause damage.
Practice good hygiene
Wash your hair regularly with a gentle shampoo to keep your scalp clean and healthy. Avoid using hot water and harsh shampoos, as these can dry out your hair and lead to breakage.
Protect your hair
Wear a hat or scarf when you’re out in the sun to protect your hair from damage. Also, avoid exposing your hair to extreme heat, such as from curling irons or hot rollers, as this can cause damage and lead to hair loss.
Stress can take a toll on your body and your hair. Practice stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to help manage your stress levels and keep your hair healthy.
Get regular check-ups
If you notice any changes in your hair, such as increased shedding or thinning, make sure to see your doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation. They can help you determine the cause of your hair loss and recommend appropriate treatments.