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Hair Loss and Its Causes

What is the normal cycle of hair growth and loss?

The normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 3 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is growing at any one time. About 10 percent of the hair on your scalp, at any one time, is in a resting phase. After 3 to 4 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place.

It is normal to shed some hair each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss. Hair loss of this type can affect men, women and children.

What causes excessive hair loss?

A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.

Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.

Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they’ve had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.

Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, high blood pressure or heart problems, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.

Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines.

Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.

Can certain hairstyles or treatments cause hair loss?

Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia (say: al-oh-pee-sha). If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called “perms”) may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.

What is common baldness?

“Common baldness” usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. It is also called androgenetic alopecia. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.

Women may develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair can become thin over the entire scalp.

Can my doctor do something to stop hair loss?

Perhaps. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your diet, any medicines you’re taking, whether you’ve had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. If you’re a woman, your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.

Is there any treatment for hair loss?

Depending on your type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss.

Medicines may also help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. One medicine, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Another medicine, finasteride, is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working.

If adequate treatment is not available for your type of hair loss, you may consider trying different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves or artificial hair replacement.

Male pattern baldness

Male pattern baldness is a phrase that is used a lot, but beyond understanding that our fathers’ or grandfather’s hairlines looked eerily similar to our own at a certain age, most of us have little understanding of the how’s and why’s of male pattern hair loss.  It is safe to say that male pattern baldness ( Androgenetic Alopecia) has been around as long as men have.

When men lose their hair, they tend to lose it predictable ways, around the hairline and the crown of the head. This pattern of hair loss is referred to as male pattern baldness.

Causes of Male Pattern Hair Loss

  • Genetics is heavily linked to male pattern baldness. Although Scientists still don’t know the precise genetic mechanism that triggers male pattern baldness, there is evidence to support the likelihood of genes as the instigators. Studies in 2006 and 2007 have shown that a variant on the X chromosome (the female contribution in a male’s XY combination) contributes to male pattern baldness. However other factors such as testosterone levels, and the fathers family history of hair loss, also contribute significantly to the condition.
  • Aging is another factor that combines with genetics to trigger certain hormones, mainly DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) to overproduce. An overabundance of DHT causes hair to miniaturize, or getting thinner, weaker and grayer.
  • Other issues like stress, diet, lack of sleep, even smoking marijuana can have negative effects on your hair. A 2008 study done in Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal, concluded that its use “frighteningly” accelerated hair loss in men ages 18-45.
  • Some illnesses such as diabetes, lupus and heart disease can accelerate the natural process of losing one’s hair as well.

While natural hair loss in women is generally referred to as female pattern baldness, (or Androgenetic Alopecia ) women’s hair loss is rarely classified as true baldness, nor does it often resemble the patterns of hair loss so often seen in men.  With diffused thinning of the hair all over the head, hair loss, for women, can have a devastating affect on self-esteem. After all, a woman’s hair isn’t supposed to fall out. That problem belongs to men. Right? Well, not exactly. In fact statistics say that by the age of 80, some 57% of women will experience some level of female pattern baldness.

Female Pattern Hair Loss

Causes of Female Pattern Hair Loss

What are the causes of female pattern baldness?

  • Hormone imbalance – Scientists have still not reached a consensus about the genetic and hormonal mechanisms that trigger hair loss, but DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) an androgen (male) hormone, is one of the main culprits in hair loss. In women, hormone imbalance often comes with age. Menopause might be the trigger for this extra dose of male hormone that causes hair to thin on the scalp and grow coarser on the face because the body begins to produce less estrogen.
  • Genetics – Heredity can play a part as well, though scientists are only now identifying the genes responsible. Tendencies for female pattern baldness are inherited through your maternal line.  If your mother lost her hair, there’s a good chance you will, too.
  • Pregnancy – Women have often experienced some hair loss at some point in their lives because of hormonal imbalance, such as after a pregnancy. Hair grows thicker because of the extra estrogen, but sheds after childbirth. Still, that lost hair usually grows back normally after a few months. With androgen linked hair loss, the thinning of a woman’s hair can go unnoticed for a time. She can attribute her hair loss to stress or diet or even health before the real reason becomes clear. By the time she becomes truly concerned, she’s seeing white scalp through her hair.
  • Medical issues – Women experiencing hair loss should check with their doctor to make sure there are no medical reasons for their hair loss. Eliminate illness such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, stress induced alopecia, or prescription medication as the cause.
  • External causes – Female pattern baldness can also be confused with tension alopecia from over-styling or wearing too tight braids or extensions.  Some women have even found certain IUD’s to be suspect in their sudden hair loss.

Treatment Options

First, there are DHT inhibitor over-the-counter products that might help stop the shedding and revitalize your strangling hair follicles. Results vary, but like Propecia for men, products like Provillus for women show promise in stopping shedding, regrowing and thickening hair.

Another recent development in female hair loss has been low light laser hair therapy. Laser therapy, applied in thirty minute sessions, stimulates blood circulation around the root and nourishes those dying follicles. Studies show nearly 90% of clients trying laser hair therapy showed visible improvement. With any of these methods, patience is a virtue. You won’t see results immediately because, remember, the hair growth cycle has its own rhythms. Expect anywhere between four and ten months before you see a real difference.

Another option, a more expensive, but permanent one, is follicular transplantation. Hair is harvested from a donor site on the back of the head and implanted where the hair has thinned. The harvested hair is taken from an area not prone to female pattern baldness and will not be subject to the same genetic hair loss triggers as the original hair was. And the hair that regrows will be your own, living hair. Results are excellent with this new follicular technology.

Ayurvedic treatment for hair loss – Massaging

Massage [Ayurvedic massage] greatly improves the blood circulation, thus increasing the health of the hair and also scalp. Daily massaging the scalp for 5-10 minutes greatly stimulates the circulation. This is very essential for healthy growth of your hair.

  • Use coconut or almond oil to rub your scalp and on the soles of your feet before going to bed.
  • Massage your hair with the oil that contains vitamin E. This greatly prevents or slows down the hair loss. Vitamin E oil strengthens fragile hair and also helps to prevent the dry and flaky skin.
  • Boil the lemon leaves in water, cool it and rinse your hair with it.

The most effective remedy for treating hair loss is the application of herbal serum on your scalp. During first week, you need to apply this for 2-3 nights by using a dropper and then apply it once or twice in a week. It is very easy to apply the serum on your scalp. Massage your scalp with the serum and leave for one night to penetrate into the affected area.

The next morning, rinse of the serum by using a conditioner. You will definitely observe best results within few weeks. The herbal serum helps to nourish your hair follicles, stops itchiness and also it restores the hair in thinning area.

Ayurvedic treatment for hair loss – Diet

  • Every morning, eat a handful of white sesame seeds, because they contain sufficient amounts of magnesium and calcium that are essential for the growth of your hair.
  • Everyday, consume some yogurt.
  • Increase the intake of green leafy vegetables, milk, salads, fruits, and sprouts in your diet. Consume enough proteins, yeast, wheat germ, buttermilk, whole grains, nuts, soya beans, and milk.
  • Moderate intake of vitamins.
  • Decrease the consumption of alcohol.
  • Consume the foods that contain sulfur, zinc, vitamin-B complex, vitamin C and essential fatty acids.

Ayurvedic treatment for hair loss – Herbs

Ayurvedic herbs help to improve the blood circulation, disinfect your scalp and stimulate the growth of hair.

  • Rinsing your hair in apple cider vinegar and sage tea stimulates the growth of the hair.
  • Licorice extracts help in preventing the hair loss.
  • Horsetail is the best source of silica, which helps to keep your hair strong and look shiny and sleek.
  • Use stinging nettle, rosemary, birch, and horsetail to massage your scalp regularly for stimulating the hair growth.

Tea made from burdock and marshmallow is good for dry hair

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