Everything You Need to Know About Hair Loss for 2024
What is hair loss?
Hair loss or alopecia, is a condition that affects everyone be it men, women, or children.
Alopecia or loss of hair can affect just a part of the body, particularly the scalp, or the overall body. Hair loss can be a temporary condition or a long-lasting and permanent as a result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or a normal part of aging. Although anyone can suffer hair loss, it’s more common in men.
It is normal to lose about 100 hair strands a day. Given the amount of hair that is on our heads, it is just a tiny loss that is not even noticeable. Therefore, finding a few stray hairs on the comb is not something to be worried about. Moreover, new growth replaces the lost hair normally.
But sometimes hair loss can be a sign of a medical condition and needs attention. If you notice any abnormalities in hair loss or are losing much more than you normally do, you should consult a doctor. The doctor can determine the underlying cause of your hair loss and suggest appropriate treatment plans.
What are the signs and symptoms of hair loss?
Individuals may experience hair loss in various ways based on the cause of the condition. Signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:
- Receding hairline
This is the most common type of hair loss that occurs as people age. Men experience the gradual disappearance of hair from the frontal scalp or recede at the hairline on the forehead. Women undergo thinning over the entire scalp and more extensive at the crown. Older women suffer hair loss in a receding hairline pattern.
- Circular or patchy bald spots
Some may suffer hair loss in circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard or eyebrows, where the skin may become itchy or painful before the hair comes out.
- Sudden hair loss
Some may lose clumps of hair when washing, combing, or tugging gently. This may be a result of any physical or emotional shock leading to overall hair thinning but is temporary.
- Full-body hair loss
Certain conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, can lead to loosening of hair all over the body. But it is not a permanent condition as hair returns once you’ve recovered.
- Patchy scaling on the scalp
One may experience patches of scaling that spread across the scalp as a result of ringworm infection. One may also experience redness and swelling as well as hair breakages.
If you experience persistent hair loss or any of these symptoms of hair loss, you should see a doctor and seek medical intervention as it may suggest other underlying medical conditions. Early treatment will enable you to avoid significant permanent damage.
What causes hair loss?
There are numerous factors that contribute to hair loss. The following factors may influence hair loss:
- Family history
The condition of hair loss can be inherited and heredity is the most common cause of hair loss. It leads to a condition called androgenic alopecia which happens gradually and in predictable patterns such as a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning hair along the crown of the scalp in women.
- Hormonal changes
Abnormal hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems can lead to loss in hair.
Hair loss can be a side effect of certain medications and drugs, such as chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, blood thinners used to treat heart problems, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and birth control pills. However, the hair loss is temporary and it grows back after recovery.
- Medical conditions
Hair loss can also be a result of underlying medical conditions such as thyroid disease, lupus, diabetes, iron deficiency anemia, autoimmune disease, eating disorders, and scalp infections such as ringworm. In most cases, the hair grows back when the underlying condition is treated, the hair will return unless there is scarring as in some forms of lupus, lichen planus or follicular disorders.
- Cosmetic procedures
Excessive shampooing, perms, bleaching, dyeing, hairstyling, and tight braiding can lead to overall hair thinning by damaging and weakening the hair. However, these procedures do not lead to baldness and hair grows back normally if these procedures are avoided.
Stress can lead to thinning of hair or hair loss. This type of hair loss is temporary and one can learn how to help reverse hair loss caused by stress.
A temporary loss in hair can also be a result of a poor diet as a low-protein diet or severely calorie-restricted diet can also cause temporary hair loss. In order to prevent such hair loss, you need to improve your diet.
How is hair loss diagnosed?
Losing hair and thinning over a prolonged time can be a sign of an underlying health condition. The doctor or dermatologist will do a physical examination and go through your medical history to determine the cause of your hair loss.
Based on the results and information, the doctor prescribes medications for the condition. In some cases of hair loss, simple dietary changes can help prevent the condition. In case of a suspected autoimmune or skin disease, the doctor may order other tests such as a biopsy which removes a small part of the skin for further testing to confirm the condition.
What are the treatments for hair loss?
There are various treatments available that are effective for some types of hair loss. The doctor or dermatologist will determine which treatment will work best for you based on your condition to prevent further hair loss or restore growth. These include:
There are medications that can treat pattern or hereditary baldness. The most common options include:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine)
Over-the-counter minoxidil medications generally come in liquid, foam and shampoo forms that you apply directly to the scalp twice a day and must be continued indefinitely. Side effects appear to be minimal, but may cause skin irritation for some.
- Finasteride (Propecia)
This is a prescription drug for men to treat male pattern baldness. It is taken once a day to three times weekly as a pill. It is effective in slowing hair loss as well as allowing new hair growth.
This is a pill that is taken once or twice every day to block the male hormones in the skin that can cause hair loss. This is used for female pattern hair loss.
If medications do not work or are not effective, there are surgical procedures to treat baldness. These include:
- Hair transplant surgery
Hair transplant surgery involves moving or relocating of small plugs of skin from parts of the scalp containing active hair follicles to bald areas of the scalp. It is usually effective for people with hereditary baldness. This would need multiple surgeries over time and new hair usually begins to grow from the transplanted follicles within several months.
- Scalp reduction
Scalp reduction surgery leads to tissue expansion that covers bald spots. It is a procedure that requires two surgeries where a surgeon removes part of the scalp that lacks hair and closes the area with a piece of your scalp that has hair.
For more information regarding hair loss and the latest treatment options, contact Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre and consult with highly efficient dermatologists.
Meet the specialist at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad
Dr. Rajeev Jain is a highly experienced venereologist and dermatologist who has dedicated 18 years to treating various skin conditions and diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. He is presently working as a senior consultant in the dermatology department at Yashoda Hospital, Ghaziabad. Dr. Jain has had comprehensive training in performing various types of skin surgeries including cosmetic procedures and is meticulous in procedural work. He demonstrates extensive knowledge of cutting-edge practices in skincare and participates vigorously in various research pursuits.