7 Common hair loss types and treatments

Hair loss is seen to be a normal problems for many of us. The natural development circle of our hair is about 2 – 3 months when there is a new hair starts to grow to replace the resting hair. It is normal to shed some hair every day. You lose roughly 100 hair strands every day. But, some people may experience more than normal hair loss. Partial or complete loss of hair is called alopecia. 

If your hair loss is distinctly noticeable. you need to find out what kind of hair loss you are suffering from. The various different kinds of hair losses are:

Natural hair loss

The rate of hair growth slows as you age. Both men and women tend to lose hair thickness and amount as they age. If you notice gradual thinning of hair with age, then you have Involutional alopecia. More and more of your hair follicles go into a telogen (resting) phase. The remaining hair becomes shorter and fewer in number.

Temporary hair Loss

You may experience temporary hair loss over the scalp weeks to months after a stress episode like child birth, fever, severe illness, stress and sudden weight loss. The hair shedding will decrease after few months. Such type of hair loss is called Telogen effluvium. This happens due to changes in the growth cycle of hair. A large numbers of hairs are in the resting phase (telogen) at the same time. After 2-3 months, there is massive shedding and subsequent thinning.

Male or female pattern baldness

If you are a male with a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown, you may be suffering from Androgenic alopecia referred to as male pattern baldness. In this condition, you may experience hair loss as early as in your teens or early 20s. Men with androgenic alopecia may notice hair loss at the top of the scalp and a receding hairline particularly along the temples. The typical pattern begins at the hairline which then gradually moves backward and forms an ‘M’ shape. Finally the hair becomes finer, shorter, and thinner, and creates a U-shaped pattern of hair around the sides of the head. Miniaturization is the progressive decrease of the hair shaft’s diameter and length in response to hormones causing thinning of hair. It is characteristic of androgenic alopecia. Hair follicles that are producing healthy hair begin to produce thinner (decreased in diameter), shorter, more brittle hair with weaker shafts. It is a genetically predisposed condition that can affect both men and women. If you are a woman with general hair thinning over the entire scalp and most extensive hair loss at the crown with front hairline intact, you may be suffering from androgenic alopecia referred to as female pattern baldness. The central hair part may become wider with time. As hair thinning occurs, the scalp becomes progressively more visible. The hair loss rarely progresses to total or near total baldness. You may notice hair thinning in your 20s but you are not very likely to experience noticeable thinning until your 40s or later because the pace of hair loss tends to be gradual.

The various medications and methods to counter androgenic alopecia are:

  • Medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride which are maintenance measures for long term use.
  •  Cosmetic measures like different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves and extensions, hair fiber powders or artificial hair replacement to disguise the hair loss.
  •  Surgical restoration is the only permanent solution to baldness.
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy can be used to stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing hair miniaturization seen in androgenic alopecia and even preventing hair loss.
  • Homeopathy is another popular remedy that has proved effective against hair loss.

Patchy hair loss

If you are a child or young adult with one to two totally smooth, round patches of hair loss, mostly on the scalp, you may be sufferinf from Alopecia areata. The hair loss may also be seen in the eyebrows, and arms, legs or beard. It is often sudden in onset. The hair usually grows back in 6 months to 1 year in one area but will fall out in another area. In some people the hair may become thinner without any patches of baldness. In some, it may grow and break off, leaving short stubs which resemble exclamation point. Alopecia areata is generally considered an autoimmune condition, in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. In alopecia totalis, an extensive form, the entire scalp goes bald. If you have complete loss of scalp hair and body hair, you have alopecia universalis. It is the most severe form of alopecia areata and can occur at any age. For severe forms, treatment includes injecting small amounts of steroids like triamcinolone into affected patches to stimulate hair growth. Other treatments such as oral steroids, immunosuppressives, Contact immunotherapy or Psoralen with Ultraviolet A Light (PUVA)therapy are available.

Tinea capitis or ringworm of the scalp

It’s fungal infection of the scalp which usually affects school-age children and goes away at puberty. It’s rare in healthy adults. It involves only parts or whole of the scalp. Hair breaks off at areas that are infected causing bald scalp with small black dots. The skin has inflamed (red swollen) round, scaly areas and pus-filled sores called kerions. You may have a low-grade fever or swollen lymph nodes in the neck. The scalp is itchy. It is contagious from sharing combs and hats.Once the infection is cured, the hair grows back.Griseofulvin, terbinafine or itraconazole are used for 4 – 8 weeks to treat ringworm in the scalp

Traction alopecia

This is a type of hair loss caused by force applied to the hair because of particular hairstyles. You may notice small, localized hair loss in certain areas caused by persistent pulling or force on hair roots. Tight braids and ponytails can pull hard enough on hair to make them fall out.

Hair pulling disorder

Some people have the habit of voluntarily twisting or pulling their own hair often the scalp and eyelashes. This is referred to as Trichotillomania. It is a psychological disorder seen most frequently in children.Hair patches in trichotillomania show broken-off hair.

All in all these are the various kinds of hair losses that generally ails people.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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