In men hair loss begins as thinning hair on the scalp and a receding hairline, in women it is the thinning of hair in general, but mainly at the crown. Children who deliberately rub or pull out there hair suffer from a disorder known as trichotillomania Excessive shedding of hair, but not complete baldness is associated with various illness, anemia, drug treatments, stress, rapid weight loss and pregnancy. The colour, texture and structure of human hair varies widely from person to person depending on a varied amount of different factors such as age, race, sex, and genes. The thinning of hair and baldness is not normal and the cause should be looked for. The protein Keratin makes up hair, it is produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of the skin. As soon as these follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin. An average adult head has approximately 100,000 hairs, and loses up to 100 of them a day, so finding a few strands of hair on your hairbrush is not really a problem. In men, male pattern baldness is a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown. In women, a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the greatest amount of hair loss at the crown is known as female pattern baldness. This usually only occurs in women later on in life and sometimes does not occur at all. In children and young adults a sudden loss of patches of hair is known as alopecia areata, this disorder can result in complete in baldness, fortunately in approximately 90% of the cases the hair returns usually within a few years, it may be very fine and even white before normal thickness and coloration returns, the causes remain unexplained although a stressful event may trigger it and it has been found to be slightly more common than diabetes and pernicious anemia. Alopecia universalis is the complete loss of all hair on the body and the possibility of regrowth is slight, especially when children suffer from it. Trichotillomania is seen mostly in children, it occurs when the person rubs or pulls out there own hair.
It is not known why certain hair follicles have a shorter growth period than others. A person’s genes, from both male and female parents, undeniably influence their tendency to male or female pattern baldness. Temporary hair loss often occurs when you suffer from the following:
A high fever
It has been found that in all these conditions, large numbers of hair follicles suddenly go into a resting phase, which then causes to thin noticeably. Drugs that are responsible for causing temporary hair loss include, anticoagulants, chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer, retinoids used to treat skin problems and acne, oral contraceptives and beta-adrenergic blockers which are used to control blood pressure. Scalp injuries, x-rays, burns, and exposure to certain chemicals, especially those found in bleach, perming lotion, dye and those used to purify swimming pools, have also all been found to cause hair loss. Once the cause is found and eliminated, normal hair growth usually does return. Frequent washing, bleaching, permanent waves and dyeing of hair does not cause baldness, they can contribute to the overall thinning of hair, by making the hair weak and brittle. The hair normally grows back once the cause is stopped.
A poor diet is often responsible for hair loss, a balanced diet is therefore advisable and you can consult with your doctor about what supplements to take. He will most likely advise iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B complex and C.
Try not to over wash or treat your hair. Often people with oily hair wash their hair every day, but shampooing too often can strip your hair of its natural oil.
When to seek further professional advice
If at any time you suspect that you or your child has alopecia areata or trichotillomania, as both these conditions need to be evaluated by a doctor.
If you suffer an unexplained loss of hair on any part of your body.
Unfortunately there are no alternative therapies which can reverse normal balding, although some have been found to encourage reversal of temporary hair loss and improve damaged hair. Certain relaxation techniques help calm stressful people, as stress is a common cause of hair loss. In Chinese medicine, the hair is believed to be nourished by the blood which is influenced by the kidneys and liver. The medicine used to help and nourish these organs and promote new hair growth includes such herbs as lycium fruit (Lycium barbarum), Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita), polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum), Chinese foxglove root (Regmannia glutinosa) and cornus (Cornus officinalis). For temporary or partial hair loss from a known cause, herbalists recommend a herbal therapy known to stimulate hair follicles and improve blood circulation in the scalp and encourage new hair growth, try massage your scalp with essential oil of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or rinse your hair with sage or nettle tea. Homeopathic remedies are believed to be effective for hair loss, especially thinning caused by pregnancy, emotional trauma or stress, a homeopathic professional will be able to advise you on what to use. Massage helps improve circulation and supply more blood to the scalp, thereby improving the health of your hair and scalp. To strengthen fragile hair and help prevent dry, flaky skin it is recommended that a few drops of vitamin E oil is massaged into your scalp. Physical and emotional stress have been found to be factors in some cases of hair loss, therefore Yoga and meditation may help relieve the stress.
Wigs, hairpieces and hair-weaving are the most common ways that people try to hide their baldness. A drug known as ‘minoxidil’ or ‘Regaine’ is available on prescription, which has been found to promote hair growth on previously bald areas. It is also available as a lotion, that is applied onto the scalp. To maintain hair growth the drug has to be used every day and it also very expensive. It works better for younger people who are only just starting to show signs of balding or have small bald patches. The medication has to be applied to the balding spots twice a day and this must be done daily, more then half of its users claim that it slows hair loss and can thicken hair, unfortunately it is not considered very effective in men who already have extensive male pattern baldness. Alopecia areata is often resolved naturally, but some doctors try to speed recovery by using corticosteroids, these are applied topically or are injected in the scalp. Cortisone that is taken orally is known to stimulate new hair growth, but its effects are likely to be temporary. Hair transplantation has also become a popular option especially with people who have extensive hair loss.
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