Alopecia

It is recorded that more than a million of Indians report alopecia each year. Do you know? Women are more likely to visit doctor about thinning of hair compared to men. In 82% of adults, the only cause of hair loss is due to the genetic issue.

In our walk of life, it’s common that we lose hair. Losing 50 to 100 hairs each day is absolutely normal. But if you are experiencing thinning of hair or bald patches of hair, then it is called alopecia, or hair loss.

Alopecia is not gendered specific, men and women are equally affected. Alopecia can affect your entire body not only just scalp.

Hair loss can either be temporary or everlasting, the common signs and symptoms of hair loss include:

  • Thinning on the top of head : this is common in both men and women the gradual loss of hair line resembles the letter ‘M’.
  • Patchy bald spots : This type of patches usually occurs on the scalp, you may also find them near the beard or eyebrows too.
  • Loosening of hair as stocks : you may notice that a handful of hairs come out while combing or washing or with gentle tugging.
  • Whole body hair loss : certain treatment options such as chemotherapy for cancer results in complete body hair loss.
  • Scaling that spreads over the scalp : in ringworm infections, you may see such patches those are accompanied by the broken hair, redness, and swelling.

Alopecia is of different types such as alopecia areata, male and female pattern baldness, telogen effluvium, scarring alopecia and anagen effluvium. So, the exact cause of hair loss may not be fully understood.

The causes usually relate to one or more factors which includes,

  • Heredity : family history of baldness is the most common type of hair loss; it can be male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, bald spots in men and hair thinning in females respectively. Heredity also affects the extent of baldness and the amount of hair you lose.
  • Drugs : drugs used for certain conditions such as cancer, depression, heart problems, hypertension, and birth control pills, etc. Too much intake of vitamin A supplements also cause alopecia.
  • Hormonal changes : Soon after pregnancy there would be changes in the hormonal levels. So, this can induce temporary hair loss. Thyroid gland disorders also have a role in affecting the hair.
  • Medical conditions : Medical conditions such as scalp infections, sarcoidosis, hair-pulling disorder, and other skin disorders can cause alopecia.

Your doctor would perform a physical examination or ask you for medication and family history to understand the underlying cause, he or she would then order for certain tests that include:

  • Blood tests : this helps to understand the medical issues which may be the cause, such as thyroid disease, etc.
  • Pull test : your doctor would gently pull some hairs to check how many comes out. This makes your doctor understand the stage of alopecia.
  • Scalp biopsy : your doctor would examine the samples of hair or scrapes from skin, to determine any if any infectious condition is the cause.
  • Light microscopy : a special instrument is used which uncovers the possible disorder of the hair shaft.

The main target of hair fall treatment is to promote hair growth, slow down the hair loss or hide hair loss. There are effective treatments for hair loss. You can regain your hair back, but few hair loss types are permanent. Hair loss Treatments may include the following:

Medications:

In case of pattern baldness, your doctor would prescribe you minoxidil. It comes in the form of liquid or foam. You must rub it over your scalp at least twice a day. This helps in further loss of hair and helps the hair to grow. You would notice the results within 16 weeks of application and must continue to retain the benefits. Finasteride is another prescription drug which is exclusive to treat male baldness. It is available in a pill form; you would notice slowing of hair loss and new hairs growing. Keep using to retain the benefits.

Surgery:

Your doctor will suggest a hair restoration or transplant procedure that is the best option for permanent hair loss. During this procedure, your hair from back or sides of the ear is plucked and is implanted into the sections where you have lost the hair. But the drawback is, these surgeries are very expensive and pose some side effects such as infection and scarring.

Wigs and hairpieces:

If you do not respond to the treatment or if you wanted any alternative other than surgery, or medications, you can opt for using wigs and hairpieces. You can get a natural look by quality wigs and hairpieces.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a sudden hair loss
  • You notice bulk of hair shedding
  • You notice thinning of hair

You can prevent certain types of hair losses by following healthy tips, that includes,

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Avoiding hairstyles that are tight
  • Washing hair with mild shampoos
  • Avoiding curl machines, hot oil treatments and hair straightners

   Nutritional concerns:

Nutritional deficiencies relate to alopecia in children. To prevent that, it is important to include folic acid, biotin in the diet or supplement form. They help in the restoration of hair and prevent hair loss.