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Hair lossis a condition in which the hair falls at an abnormal rate and further leading to partial or complete loss of hair.
The alternative names are Hair Fall, Baldness, and Loss of hair. The medical term for hair loss is “alopecia”
Baldness or hair loss is usually something only adults need to worry about. But in a few cases, teens lose their hair, too.Most of the time, hair loss during the teen years is temporary. With temporary hair loss, the hair usually grows back after the problem that causes it is corrected.
Hair is made of a type of protein called keratin. A single hair consists of a hair shaft (the part that shows), a root below the skin, and a follicle, from which the hair root grows. At the lower end of the follicle is the hair bulb, where the hair's color pigment, or melanin, is produced.
The scalp has at an average 100,000 hairs. A healthy scalp sheds hair continuously and new hair replaces them.
Most people lose about 50 to 100 head hairs a day. These hairs are replaced — they grow back in the same follicle on your head. This amount of hair loss is totally normal and no cause for worry.However when the scalp is not able to produce new hair to replace the shed hair, baldness develops.
The normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 3 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimetre per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on the scalp is growing at any one time. About 10 percent of the hair on the scalp, at any one time, is in a resting phase. After 3 to 4 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place.
It is normal to shed some hair each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss. Hair loss of this type can affect men, women and children.
TYPES OF HAIR LOSS
There are different types of hair loss based on the type and cause-
The most common type is androgenic alopecia also know as male pattern baldness (when it occurs in men) or female pattern baldness (when it occurs in women). This is a permanent type of hair loss which is incurable and is caused by heredity and genetics.
"Common baldness" usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. It is also called androgenetic alopecia. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.
Women may develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair can become thin over the entire scalp.
Other types are usually temporary and may be a symptom of serious illness, skin infection, stress, use of certain drugs, thyroid diseases etc. The hair loss halts once the underlying cause has been identified and treated.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary.
Some medications or medical treatments, like chemotherapy treatment for cancer, also cause hair loss.
Hair loss during adolescence can mean a person may be sick or just not eating right.
Hormonal problems may cause hair loss.
Endocrine (hormonal) conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes or thyroid disease, can interfere with hair production and cause hair loss.
People with lupus can also lose hair.
The hormone imbalance that occurs in polycystic ovary syndrome can cause hair loss in teen girls as well as adult women.
If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment of thyroid disease.
Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may stop your hair loss.
Some medications that have hair loss as a side effect may be prescribed for teens for acne. Diet pills that contain amphetamines also can cause hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs for cancer are probably the most well-known medications that cause hair loss
Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, high blood pressure or heart problems, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.
Certain infections can cause hair loss. Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines.
This skin disease causes hair loss on the scalp and sometimes elsewhere on the body. Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the hair follicles are damaged by a person's own immune system. (In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs in a person's body.)
Alopecia areata usually starts as one or more small, round bald patches on the scalp. These can get bigger, and in a small number of cases, can progress to total hair loss. Both guys and girls can get it, and it often begins in childhood. The hair usually grows back within a year, but not always. Sometimes people with alopecia areata lose their hair again.
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder in which people repeatedly pull their hair out, often leaving bald patches. It results in areas of baldness and damaged hairs of different lengths. People with trichotillomania usually need professional help from a therapist or other mental health professional before they are able to stop pulling their hair out.
Having your hair chemically treated, such as getting your hair colored, bleached, straightened, or permed, and applying heat to hair (like using a hot iron or hot blow drying) can cause damage that may make the hair break off or fall out temporarily.
Another type of baldness that results from hair styling actually can be permanent: Wearing hair pulled so tightly that it places tension on the scalp can result in a condition called traction alopecia. Traction alopecia can be permanent if the style is worn for a long enough time that it damages the hair follicles.If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called "perms") may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.
Poor eating can contribute to hair loss. This is why some people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia lose their hair: The body isn't getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to sustain hair growth. Some teens who are vegetarians also lose their hair if they don't get enough protein from non-meat sources. And some athletes are at higher risk for hair loss because they may be more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia.
Some major events can alter the hair's growth cycle temporarily. For example, delivering a baby -Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they've had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again.
Having surgery, going through a traumatic event, or having a serious illness or high fever can temporarily cause shedding of large amounts of hair. Because the hair we see on our heads has actually taken months to grow, a person might not notice any disruption of the hair growth cycle until months after the event that caused it. This type of hair loss corrects itself.
Among adults, the most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, sometimes called male- or female-pattern baldness. This condition is caused by a combination of factors, including hormones called androgens and genetics. Sometimes, the hair loss can start as early as the mid-teen years. It also can occur in people who take steroids like testosterone to build their bodies.
Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated.
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS
Doctor may ask some questions about your diet, any medicines you're taking, whether you've had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. If you're a woman, your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed.
Depending on type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a medicine is causing hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss.
Medicines may also help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. One medicine, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Another medicine, finasteride, is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if one of these medicines is working.
If adequate treatment is not available for your type of hair loss, you may consider trying different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves or artificial hair replacement.
If you see a doctor about hair loss, he or she will ask questions about your health and family health (called a medical history) and check your scalp. In some cases, the doctor might take hair samples and test for certain medical conditions that can cause hair loss.
If medication is causing hair loss, ask the doctor if you can take a different drug. If your hair loss is due to an endocrine condition, like diabetes or thyroid disease or female-pattern baldness, proper treatment and control of the underlying disorder is important to reduce or prevent hair loss.
Alopecia areata can be helped by treatment with corticosteroids. If nutritional deficiencies are found to be causing your hair loss, the doctor might refer you to a dietitian or other nutrition expert.
Eating a balanced, healthy diet is important for a lot of reasons, and it really benefits your hair.
If you're losing hair, some doctors recommend using baby shampoo, shampooing no more than once a day, and lathering gently. Don't rub your hair too vigorously with a towel, either. Many hair experts suggest putting away the blow dryer or try using it on a low-heat setting and air drying your hair instead.
Style your hair when it's dry or damp. Styling your hair while it's wet can cause it to stretch and break. Finally, be careful when using chemicals — such as straighteners or color — on your hair, and avoid frequent use of chemical treatments.
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