Hair loss is a fascinating subject and to better understand it we need to look at hair growth cycles.
Scalp hair grows about 4 years or longer, whereas bodily hair may grow for 2 – 3 months. All hair goes through a resting phase of about 2 – 3 months when hair will shed and new hair will grow. We refer to the growth phase as Anagen and the resting phase as Telogen.
Types of hairloss
There are many different types of hair loss, each with their respective contributing factors. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Genetic: Affects males and females and characterised by a shorter growth phase. Hair is shorter and finer and growth may disappear completely, especially in males. In influenced by circulating male hormones as well as white blood cells attacking the hair follicle “bulge” region where stem cells are located.
Androgenetic Alopecia: Common in men and women but 95% of hair loss in men is androgenetic, also known as male-pattern baldness. Hair loss is well defined and starts reducing at the temples. 50% of men have it by age 50. Testosterone is certainly at the core of the balding process, however dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone, is believed to be the main culprit.
Diffuse Hair Loss: Also referred to as Telogen Effluvium. A result of stress causing hair roots to be pushed prematurely into the resting state. Telogen effluvium can be self-correcting or more permanent. Pregnancy, fever, medication, stress, diet are among the in influencers of self-correcting hair-loss and hair growth usually normalises within 6 months.
Causes of permanent diffuse hair loss may include iron deficiency, under active thyroid, hormonal imbalances, medication, systemic diseases of liver and kidney. More permanent hair loss, referred to as chronic Telogen Effluvium can last for years.
Loose Anagen Syndrome: When the cuticle is not interlinking properly with the inner root sheath. Hair pulls out easily and no hair bulb can be seen or felt.
Alopecia Areata: Presented by circular patches of baldness and can affect any area of the scalp or body. It’s an autoimmune disease, most common in people younger than 20. Those with a genetic predisposition, in combination with a trigger such as viral/bacterial infection, vaccination, stress, trauma to the skin, will suffer an increased autoimmune response. People often lose all their hair before it eventually grows back, but about 10% of people with this condition will never regrow their hair.
Female Pattern Hair loss: The most common type of hair loss in women, affecting millions. A hereditary disorder, due to inflammation at the hair bulge region causing progressive thinning and gradual hair loss.
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