Causes of Hair Loss
Many conditions, diseases, and improper hair care result in excessive hair loss. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out, should consult a dermatologist. With correct diagnosis, many people with hair loss can be helped.
At our clinic, we evaluate a patient’s hair problem by asking questions about diet, medications including vitamins and health food taken in the last six months, family history of hair loss, recent illness and hair care habits. Hormonal effects may be evaluated in women by asking about menstrual cycles, pregnancies and menopause. After examining the scalp and hair, we also may check a few hairs under the microscope. Sometimes blood tests or a scalp biopsy may be required for an accurate diagnosis. It’s important to find the cause and whether or not the problem will respond to medical treatment.
Other investigations that may be performed include trichoscan and trichogram. Trichoscan is done to assess the density, type of units, assess the number of miniature hairs and assess response to treatment. A trichoscan or hair scan is a simple test to detect miniaturization, and there by estimate whether there likely possibility of permanent baldness. It takes only 10 minutes to perform and costs only Rs 500.
Temporary Hair Loss
Emotional turmoil, medications, skin conditions, surgery, childbirth, poor nutrition and illnesses can cause hair follicles to enter the telogen phase prematurely, resulting in increased shedding which presents itself as temporary diffuse thinning.
Among the many medical conditions that can cause hair loss, the most common ones are:
- Thyroid disease
- Other endocrine problems (especially those that produce excess androgens)
- Gynecological conditions – such as ovarian tumors
- Connective tissue disease (such as Lupus)
- Surgical procedures and general anesthesia
- Rapid weight loss or crash diets that are not nutritionally balanced
- Severe emotional stress
- Drugs such as oral contraceptives, thyroid medication, blood pressure medication (such as beta-blockers or water pills),” mood” medication such as lithium, Prozac, or tri-cyclic antidepressants, blood thinners such as heparin or coumadin, cholesterol lowering medication.
The treatment of all these medical causes of hair loss( which never cause total baldness) is that of underlying cause. Proper nutrition containing proteins, vitamins and minerals, avoiding stress and treatment of the underlying disease, by a specialist, are advised.
Localized Hair Loss
Localized hair loss may be sub-divided into scarring and non-scarring types. Alopecia Areata is a genetic, auto-immune disease that typifies the non-scarring type. It manifests itself with the sudden onset of round patches of hair loss associated with normal skin and can be treated with local injections of Cortico-steroids. Fungal infections can cause hair loss in children. Scarring Alopecia can be caused by a variety of medical or dermatological conditions such as Lupus and Lichen Planus, or local radiation therapy. Baldness from injuries, or from local medical problems that have been cured, is usually amenable to hair transplantation. Traction Alopecia is the hair loss that occurs with constant tugging on the hair, in some beauty treatments.
Contrary to popular belief, dandruff usually does not cause hair loss. Like wise, type of water, frequent shampooing, oiling the scalp does not affect hair growth at all. Various shampoos which claim to make the hair grow have no basis.