Hair loss on the scalp or on any other part of the body is termed alopecia . It is no news especially as one ages. What could be shocking is losing one's hair suddenly or at a young age.
Our hair is a crucial part of our skin, found everywhere on our body except the palms of hands and soles of the feet. We lose hair everyday. But as we lose them, others grow immediately to replace them.
This cycle of hair growth and shedding occurs naturally in the body. But if the cycle is disrupted or hair follicles become destroyed, hair loss occurs. Alopecia is a condition that cuts across age and gender. There are some factors that cause or increase the chances of having alopecia.
1. Age- hair thinning and loss is natural as one grows older.
2. Heredity- people with a family history of alopecia are more likely to experience hair loss.
3.Medical conditions- Although alopecia has no effect on a person's health, it could be an underlying symptom of a medical condition. These conditions include scalp infections, alopecia areata, trichotillomania etc.
4. Hormonal changes- hair loss can also be experienced during pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.
6. Hairstyles and treatment: There are various conditions of hair loss. Some are temporary hence hair regrowth is possible while others have a permanent effect.
These conditions include:
1. Baldness This is the most common cause of alopecia. It occurs in both men and women as male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness respectively. It is a gradual process that begins as one ages. In men, it is common to have receding hairline while female pattern baldness is usually characterised by thinning hair.
2. Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own healthy hair follicles therefore making them smaller and eventually stopping hair growth in the affected area. They result in patches of baldness on the scalp without causing any change on the scalp. Alopecia areata is usually temporary but can become permanent in some cases causing total hair loss called alopecia universalis
3. Traction alopecia: Traction alopecia is caused by a constant pulling of the hair. This can be due to tight buns, braids or dreadlocks and harmful hair treatment. What may begin as little bumps on the scalp may result in receding hairlines. This hair loss can be reversed if the strain on the hair is removed . Remember, repeated pulling of the hair follicles can cause receding hairlines and permanent hair loss.
4. Scalp infections: Scalp infections are also nasty causes of hair loss. Folliculitis, ringworm (common in children) and other fungal infections when present on the scalp can lead to hair loss. This fungal infection causes the hair to break off leaving bald patches. When it is treated, hair regrowth takes place.
5. Telogen effluvium: This is a stress related temporary hair loss. It is caused by a very stressful or traumatic experience. It can also be as a result of poor diet. This hair loss is characterised by hair thinning or shedding that affects the hair cycle. It is a generally reversible condition after the stress factor is removed.
6. Trichotillomania: An uncontrollable urge to pull one?s hair from the scalp, brow or eyelashes. It is an impulse control disorder. This means that it cannot be helped even when one knows it is harmful. This can result in temporary or permanent hair loss.
Alopecia has no threatening effect on people's health. However hair loss usually when unexpected can cause concern and distress among those affected. Some of the treatments for alopecia include:
1. Fungal treatment and antibiotics for scalp infections.
2. Changing hair styles to reduces the risk of traction alopecia.
3. Good hair hygiene to prevent infection 4. Hair growth treatment and hair replacement treatment to slow down hair loss.
5. Healthy diet
6. Stress management
7. Behavioural therapy to control trichotillomania.
As with every other part of the body, it is essential to take proper care of your hair. It also helps to be conscious of your lifestyle and its effects on your hair and health .
As always, visit a doctor if you experience any sign of sudden hair loss.
Written for Hellocare by