Loss of hair is medically called as alopecia. It can affect the hair on the scalp or all over the body. In most cases, it is a hereditary condition. Hair loss is apparent in men, who often go bald. However, women and children too can experience hair loss.
What is Hair Loss?
Hair loss is commonly referred to as baldness. This is because people mostly go bald by losing the hair on their scalp. It begins with some areas on the scalp losing more hair, resulting in bald spots. This is called as spot baldness during the initial stages. When the baldness spreads all over the scalp, it is called as alopecia totalis. If it spreads to the entire epidermis, it is called as alopecia universalis.
Classification of Hair Loss
Hair loss is of different types and different extent. This has led to classification of alopecia as follows:
- Diffuse alopecia areata: Loss of hair in a spread out manner around the scalp is called as diffuse alopecia areata.
- Alopecia areatamonolocularis: Baldness in just one spot is called as alopecia areatamonolocularis.
- Alopecia aretamulticularis: Hair loss in multiple spots.
- Ophiasis:Loss of hair in shape of a wave at the head circumference.
- Alopecia areatabarbae: Hair loss limited to the beard
Rarer forms of alopecia include alopecia areatatotalis and universalis.
Symptoms of Hair Loss
Depending on the cause, the symptoms of hair loss appear. Sometimes, hair loss is temporary and in some cases, permanent. Some of the symptoms include:
- Receding hair on the forehead.
- Smooth bald spots of about an inch across the scalp. It can also be seen between the beards and eyebrows. In some cases, the skin feels itchy or painful before the hair falls.
- Hair coming off with gentle tugging or washing hair
- Loss of body hair in cases of chemotherapy.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss can result from many causes. Some of these causes include:
- Fungal infection such as tineacapitis
- Compulsive pulling at the hair leading to trauma to the hair follicles (trichotillomania)
- Nutritional deficiency such as biotin, protein, zinc, iron or hypervitaminosis A
- Autoimmune diseases leading to hair loss such as alopecia areata or systemic lupus erythematosus
- Use of several medications for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. as well as oral contraceptive pills, steroids, acne medications can lead to hair loss
- Rigorous brushing of hair, excessive hair styling, cornrows, ponytails, etc. can damage the hair cuticle leading to baldness
- Hypothyroidism can lead to thinning of frontal hair as well as thinning of the eyebrows.
- 95% of the cases called as male pattern baldness has a genetic cause.
Diagnosis of Hair Loss
Diagnosis includes taking a complete medical history of the patient as well as conducting a physical examination. Some tests conducted by the doctor include:
- The pull test, where more than 40 to 50 strands are pulled and checked for hair loss. If less than 3 hairs per area are seen, it is considered normal. More than 10 hairs lost during the pull test, results in a positive hair loss report.
- Other tests conducted include the pluck test, daily hair counts, trichoscopy as well as scalp biopsy.
Treatment for Hair Loss
Most people never do much about the loss of hair and take it in their stride. Some wear wigs and hair pieces to hide the hair loss on scalp. Others take medical advice and use medications that help reduce hair loss. These medications include:
Few people are ready to undergo the knife and restore the hair loss. Hair transplantation is conducted under local anaesthetic and the bald patches are covered with healthy hair. Different surgical procedures are available to reduce the hair loss. These include scalp reduction, hairline lowering and micro-needling.
Hair loss generally causes social embarrassment to most people. In some cases, it becomes a part of the natural aging process for many. However, today there are many treatments and options available that help in the regrowth of loss of hair. If you find your hairline receding or heavy hair fall, speak to a doctor immediately. You may be able to save your hair in time.
You May Also Like To Read
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015