Reviewed by Dr. Vinti Puhal (B.A.M.S)
What is hair fall or hair loss?
Hair fall is when a person loses 30-100 strands of hair on an average per day. This is a natural phenomenon and is common for everyone. But losing more than 100 hairs per day (on a more or less regular basis) is a cause of concern, as the rate of loss of hair is more than the rate of replenishment or regrowth. Hair Loss Disorders/ Condition is defined as a persistent , severe hair loss that lasts longer than a month.
The life cycle of a hair
Just like the human growth phase, there is hair growth in phases. Each hair on our scalp goes through four stages,
which are -
Anagen The growth phase which can last from 2-8 years
Catagen Transition phase which is usually around 10 days
Telogen Resting phase which lasts around 3 months
Exogen New hair phase where old hair is shed.
Usually, 90% of the hair in a healthy individual should be in the anagen or growth phase. The balance should be either in the resting or shedding phase. As we age, the percentage of hair in the anagen or growth phase start reducing, and simultaneously the percentage of hair in telogen (resting phase) or exogen (shedding phase) start increasing. Ideally, the hair loss should be compensated by hair growth, but often that does not happen. There are multiple reasons for the same.
In case of a hair loss condition, each successive hair cycle now produces thinner, weaker and fewer hair and if this pattern continues, there comes a stage when baldness starts becoming visible. If this condition is left untreated, the follicles begin to die and new hair fails to grow. Thus, when one sees the sign of hair thinning, it is the pre cursor of hair loss beginning to set in. This is the time that intervention needs to take place to revive the follicles and slow down the pattern of hair loss.
Patterns in hair Loss - there are three common forms or types of hair loss
Androgenic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness / Female Pattern Hair) Loss: there is receding hairline and gradual thinning/balding of crown area. The same is women is seen in the form of widening partition and increased scalp visibility). There is also reduced hair density or volume.
Androgenic Alopecia is linked to hormones called androgens or rather DHT or dihydrotestosterone. Overproduction of DHT leads to androgen receptors binding with the follicles, causing them to shrink in a process called miniaturization. Because of this, the follicles can no longer get the desired amount of blood oxygen and nutrition to produce thick and healthy hair. Thus, the hair becomes weaker, thinner, shorter and often shows premature greying until there is no more hair growth from the follicle. In addition, there is shortening of the anagen (growth) phase and increased duration of shedding phase, so the lost hair takes very long to come back. Androgenic alopecia is gradual and often it goes unnoticed until the baldness becomes visible.
Telogen Effluvium (TE) :Telogen Effluvium often happens due to a sudden shock , which pushes more than 40% of hair in the resting phase in a sudden or abrupt manner. At any time, a regular scalp has 80-90% of hair in the anagen (growth) phase and the others in the resting & shedding phase. But a sudden mental or physical shock leads to the body reacting in multiple ways – one of which is the sudden onset of the resting & shedding phase. This leads to a disproportionately high number of hair beginning to fall, with alarming regularity. At times, the number of hair lost in a day can exceed 300 or so. Some of the common reasons for TE are physical trauma like accidents, surgery, abrupt hormonal changes, iron deficiency, sudden emotional shock like death of a loved one etc.
This type of hair loss may be temporary, but intervention is needed as the volume lost is fairly high.
Alopecia Areata : Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system starts attacking the hair follicles assuming them to be foreign particles. The hair loss is in the form of a coin sized circular bald patch with no hair on it. In extreme cases, the hair loss occurs in other parts of the body and is not limited to the scalp. Treatment of alopecia areata is best done by a dermatologist and is to be taken under close medical guidance as it involves the body’s immune system.
Thus, the first step in combating hair loss condition or hair fall , is to identify what type of hair fall is one suffering from. Androgenic alopecia and telogen effluvium are the most common ones and they can be handled with the right regime, right products, and right lifestyle.
The best hairfall treatment or best solution for hairfall will have the right approach based on the kind of hairfall.