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WHAT IS HAIR LOSS?

Hair loss is defined as the thinning of hair on the scalp and the medical term attributed to it is alopecia. This gradual process of hair fall with age in both men and women can be temporary or permanent, though more prominent in men.

The types of Hair loss are:

  • Androgenetic alopecia: The most common type where a combination of hormones (androgen being the male hormones) and heredity are responsible for the hair loss.
  • Alopecia areata: Involves patches of baldness characterized by their regrowth.
  • Telogen effluvium: The person experiences rapid hair shedding following childbirth, fever or sudden weight loss.
  • Traction alopecia: Experienced when people tie their hair in ponytails and braids leading to hair fall.

UNDERSTANDING THE HAIR GROWTH CYCLE

If you really want to prevent hair loss, it is very important to understand the hair growth cycle that helps to recognize and address many hair issues. The hair growth cycle consists of three distinct stages – anagen, catagen and telogen phases.

ANAGEN PHASE

Hair grows about half an inch in a month and it is faster during summer than in winter. The growth phase, also known as the anagen phase, lasts an average of 3-5 years. So, the full-length of a single hair on an average is from 18 to 30 inches. The anagen phase can last upto 7 years with hair growing upto 1 metre.

CATAGEN PHASE

Once the anagen phase is over, the hair enters the catagen phase. It is a short transitional phase that lasts approximately 10 days.

TELOGEN PHASE

The final stage is the telogen phase, which is a resting phase in which the hair is released and falls out. After this stage, the follicle is inactive for 3 months and the whole process gets repeated. Every hair follicle is independent. Each of these follicles goes through the growth cycle at different times. If this were not the case and all the hair follicles were to experience the growth cycle at the same time, then all your hair would fall out at once! Instead, you only shed a certain number of hairs in a day – up to 80 hairs on a healthy head of hair.

For instance, six weeks after restrictive dieting or a high fever you can experience diffused hair fall, which is known as telogen effluvium. This occurs when your anagen phase is shortened and many strands of hair enter the telogen phase, all at the same time. If your hair growth cycle is constantly facing obstacles and not facilitated, you may find that your hair won’t grow to the length that it used to. This is because your hair is never allowed to stay in the growth phase long enough to reach the desired length.

WHAT CAUSES HAIR LOSS?

Aging, medical conditions (e.g. anemia and thyroid disorders), hair lice (Pediculosis), dandruff, hormonal changes, stress, metabolic imbalances, illness or improper nutrition are among main causes of hair fall.

See a doctor if your hair fall is consistent and does not respond to regular home care treatment.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HAIR LOSS

The most common type of hair loss that affects both men and women as they age is the gradual thinning on top of head. Other symptoms include circular or patchy bald spots, sudden thinning of hair and patches of scaling that are spreading over the scalp.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT OF HAIR LOSS?

Having a proper diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins helps. Almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, eggs and green leafy vegetables should be included in the diet. Wash your hair every two days or every alternate day with an anti-dandruff shampoo that has ketoconazole, salicylic acid or Piroctone olamine. Regular exercise, maintaining a proper work life balance, not smoking and getting adequate sleep for a minimum of 7-8 hours daily helps.

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