Hair Loss: Causes, Types, Prevention And Treatments

by Khadija MAWHOUB

Whether woman or man, both are probably equally shocked when the hair collects in the brush after only a few strokes, the hair is getting thinner and bald spots appear on the head. Hair loss is often quite uncomfortable for those affected and scratches their self-esteem a lot. But where does hair loss come from? Why does it sometimes not grow back? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

What Is Hair Loss?

The number of adult hairs on the head is estimated to be around 100,000 to 120,000. it is usually not bad that a few hairs are lost, completely normal and not a cause for concern. But when does it become critical?

With hair loss of more than 100 hairs per day, doctors talk about hair loss that needs to be treated.  An important factor in this context is insufficient or stagnant hair formation.

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Stages Of Hair Growth

1. Anagen Phase

The beginning of hair growth is in the hair papilla, the lowest part of the hair root: the hair cells under the scalp are supplied with nutrients via the finest blood vessels, resulting in increased cell division and growth. The hair grows upwards through the hair cells, which are always reproduced from below, via the hair root canal. The new hair is increasingly moving away from the papilla. Only when it is hardened is it able to push through the surface of the skin (epidermis) and thus clear the way out. The described phase lasts about two to six years. 

2. Catagen Phase

This transition phase lasts one to two weeks: in the papilla the nutrient supply and thus cell division decrease, the hair detaches from the root.  The follicle shrinks, sits more loosely in the hair root canal and moves ever closer to the surface.

3. Telogenic Phase

The hair falls out after about three to four months.  The remaining part of the hair roots migrates back into the deeper layers of the skin, where the hair growth process begins again.

Types Of Hair Loss

1.Hereditary Hair Loss (Androgenetic alopecia)

Hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) is the most common type of hair loss. 60 – 80% of men and up to 42% of women are affected. The first symptoms of hereditary hair loss can appear at a young age, depending on the genetic makeup. In men, the hereditary hair loss is usually due to progressive receding hairline and lights nascent hair on the back of his head until only a fringe of hair remains or is bald in those affected. In women, hereditary hair loss becomes visible through a thinning part of the hair.

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Hereditary hair loss is caused by genetics-determined hypersensitivity of the hair follicles to the body’s hormone DHT, which means that over time the hair follicles are not supplied with enough nutrients and atrophy.

2.Diffuse Hair Loss (Alopecia diffusa)

Diffuse hair loss does not affect individually limited regions, as is the case with hereditary hair loss, but the entire head area. The hair thins out over the entire head without a visible pattern. The causes of diffuse hair loss can be varied, for example:

  • Mental and physical stress.
  • Unilateral diet (iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency).
  • Severe infections.
  • Metabolic disorders or thyroid disorder (under or over function).
  • psoriasis.
  • Taking medication (through chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer).

This type of hair loss is usually reversible and therefore curable. Alopecia diffusa, however, is symptomatic of each person differently, so before the start of therapy, an extensive discussion between the patient and doctor should be carried out to clarify the cause of the hair loss.

3.Circular Hair Loss (Alopecia areata)

As the name suggests, the circular hair loss is characterized by a clear demarcation of the bald areas. While the main symptom is very clear, the cause is not entirely clear. Circular hair loss can occur at any age and very suddenly in men and women, but is a rare form of hair loss.

The doctors suspect that the cause is mainly an autoimmune disease. The defense cells attack not only bacteria or viruses here, but also healthy cells in the body. Inflammation on the hair follicles is triggered and the hair falls out. Also, psychological reasons, such as traumatic events or lasting high-stress levels can cause a circular hair loss.

There are several ways to treat circular hair loss. If you may be affected, contact a dermatologist near you.

4.Hair Loss And Hormones

Many women know it: increased hair loss due to an unbalanced hormone balance. In women, hair loss can have many causes, such as pregnancy, menopause, taking or stopping birth control pills, but there may also be an inherited disposition behind the hair loss.

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Treatment Options For Hair Loss

With increasing hair loss, it is advisable to see a specialist, because this can also hide serious problems such as lack of nutrients, infections or chronic stress. 

The right contact person, in this case, is the dermatologist, because hair loss is a skin disorder. The doctor will ask the patient in a detailed medical history interview (patient survey ) about the duration and severity of the hair loss and clarify other symptoms such as itching or skin changes. He also inquires about the current life situation, taking medication and previous illnesses, also in the family.

Hair loss is not a separate disease, but a symptom and the cause needs to be determined.

After a holistic view of all examination results, the treating doctor can identify the corresponding cause, and depending on the type of hair loss, initiate therapy.

1- Medications For Hair Loss

Medications are used especially for hereditary hair loss. The most common active ingredients include:

  • Finasteride – prevents the formation of the DHT hormone, which is harmful to the hair root.
  • Minoxidil – dilates the blood vessels and thus improves blood circulation to the scalp.

If the doctor diagnoses that there is a lack of nutrients or hormone fluctuations, he initiates a regulation of it. For example, iron supplements remedy a deficit. Thyroid diseases should also be treated with the appropriate medication. If necessary, alternatives to drugs that interfere with the hormone balance, such as the contraceptive pill, have to be found.

2- Home Remedies And Tips For Hair Loss

There are still a few measures that can help reduce hair loss :

  • Use only small amounts of shampoo to clean your hair and scalp. The care should be adapted to the needs of your skin if possible. Avoid hot water, as well as blow-drying too often. The heat and the ingredients of the shampoo otherwise irritate the scalp too much.
  • It is best to pat your hair carefully after washing with a soft towel (or clean cotton shirt) instead of rubbing. Air-drying is particularly gentle. The implementation of this measure is a little dependent on individual hair quality and result satisfaction.
  • Bleaching, straightening, and perm, all styling processes are very aggressive to the hair and stress it. Therefore, they should be used only rarely if possible.
  • Conditioners or weekly hair treatments also help against knots in the hair and thus prevent unnecessary pulling when brushing, which leads to hair loss.

Finally, relaxation is an important remedy for hair loss. Mental and physical stress lead to an increased release of stress hormones and these can attack the hair follicles. 

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