Alopecia or hair loss is a condition where there is a loss of hair where they normally grow. It is otherwise referred to as simply baldness. This typically affects the head.
It is an autoimmune disorder (autoimmune disorder occur when the immune system attacks healthy cells) where the body thinks your own hair follicles is the enemy and attacks it. Since the hair follicles are where the hair grows, this attack could make the hair to fall off and stops to grow. Alopecia also comes in severe forms, such as alopecia universalis; in which hair is lost from the entire body, including the eyelashes.
Source: Alopecia universalis
Growth of Hair
The stem cells which is housed in the hair follicle allows regrowth when hair is cut.
The hair shaft, which is the visible part of hair made up of keratin, the same fibrous family that nails and the outer skin surface have.
There is an average of 100,000 hairs at any time on a human scalp. These are growing (anagen phase), resting (catagen phase) and shedding (telogen phase).
About 85% of hair grows about 1 cm each month. The resting hair phase makes up about 3% of the hair and lasts for about 3-5 years. Estimated 12% of the total hair is shed every day ( approximately about 100 hairs daily).
The rate of loss is somewhat equal to the rate of growth for normal
hair thus keeping hair at the same growth level. But with alopecia,
there is an imbalance and the growth rate is severely stunted or totally
Types of hair loss
There two types of hair loss namely alopecia areata in which hair loss occurs in patches, alopecia totalis in which all the hair on scalp fall off, and alopecia universalis in which the total body is hairless.
Pattern of Hair Loss
Male Pattern loss
The hair recedes around the temple, followed by thinning and then the
scalp's top is bald. This is linked to a male sex hormone known as DHT
(dihydrotestosterone) affecting the hair follicle gradually with the
resultant progression of baldness.
Female pattern loss is usually milder compared to men's type. It usually involves thinning of hair loss on top of the head. Hair loss in the female is more likely to occur after menopause(fewer estrogens presence) as. It is often said to be caused by the overproduction of androgens (a hormone responsible for sexual development in both sexes, including sex drive and regulation of hair growth) due to a condition in the endocrine causing more secretion of androgen or an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovary, pituitary, or adrenal gland.
There is also hair loss in both sexes during the growing (anagen phase). This is generally as a result of chemotherapy medications, such as cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin. Radiotherapy treatment of cancer also results in hair loss.
Causes of Hair Loss
Heredity: The most common cause of hair loss in the male pattern loss is mostly hereditary in which case there is no way of stopping it from happening except via hair transplant.
Lack of balance diet: Food rich in protein, vitamins, and iron are required for hair growth.
Physical Trauma Accidents and other trauma can affect the hair growth cycle and lead to hair shedding instead of growth.
Pregnancy: The hormones usually rise during pregnancy and when it returns after birth the hair growth cycle would have to adjust to this, thus the hair growth cycle is affected leading to hair loss.
Bad Hairstyling Procedure or Product This is the harmful hair styling techniques, use of harsh chemicals all affect the normal growth of hair.
Medical Treatment: Chemotherapy and radiotherapy all leads to hair loss.
There is a lot of treatment option available for hair loss. Most of which are limited to interim measures as a full cure is not usually possible.
A diet rich in vitamin B12, iron, folate and generally taking a proteinous balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits. There is also the quick "fix" of cosmetics such as a wig, toupee, etc. Some tattoo artist has been known to do a good job tattooing an eyelash where there was none.
Medication: The common drugs of choice for treatment of pattern hair loss include finasteride and minoxidil a popular one is rogaine. In women, drugs such spironolactone or cyproterone acetate have inhibiting actions on androgen. Drugs could only be taken if taken if prescribed by a medical professional. Avoid self-medication.
Immunotherapy: Still on the medication, this medication could trigger a minor immune skin reaction that triggers hair growth. The medication includes but not limited to dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) or diphencyprone (DPCP).
Hair Transplant: This is mainly used in male pattern baldness treatment. This is the use of surgery to fix the disorder of pattern baldness in a male. A popular case of such a hair transplant done on Wayne Rooney, the English football superstar.
In many cases, hair loss cannot be prevented, particularly if it is caused by genes, hormones, an underlying medical condition or chemotherapy. However, a diet containing healthy levels of iron, vitamin B12 and folate can help to promote steady hair growth. Similarly, avoiding tight hairstyles, harsh styling products or vigorous brushing is also recommended.
Prevention they say is better than cure, so if you still have a full head of hair these are things you should start doing to prevent hair loss. If it is not genetic the following may help
Healthy eating: food rich in iron, vitamin B12, and folate promote hair growth. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale, fruits are rich in irons and vitamins.
Hair perms: Some chemicals used in hair perming has an adverse effect on hair. It is advised that hair perming frequency be reduced or even stopped.
Heat: Excessive heat (hair dryers used in hair drying) has an adverse effect on hair making it brittle and a resultant hair loss as a result of the breaks and fall-offs.
Tight hairstyles Avoid Hairstyling that involves pulling hairs to tight.
Correct use of Haircare product: Use mild shampoos and other mild hair care. Also, the frequency of shampooing should be reduced.