GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT HAIR AND HAIR LOSS
Hair is unique to mammals and grows out of a hair follicle (root) embedded in the skin. The hair root is supplied by blood vessels and is alive but the hair we see above the skin is made of a keratin and is dead, not having any blood supply or nerves. It has pigment of varying quantities, giving it the various shades of colours.
Humans have over 2 million hair follicles, which are cleverly programmed to produce hair of varying pigmentation, length, texture, density and rate of growth, depending on area of the body. How this complex programming is controlled is still largely unknown. A human head has on average 100,000 to 150,000 hair. The density of head hair is very variable, according to age, sex, ethnicity and state of health. The back of the head has the maximum density of hair.
In the human embryo, the hair follicles first start forming the face around 8th to 12th week of gestation and then spread to other parts of the body.
Hair growth occurs in three phases the anagen or growth phase, catagen or regression phase and telogen or resting phase. The time spent in each phase depends on the type and location of the hair root. Usually the 85% of the hair follicles on the scalp (head) are in growth phase and 15% are in the resting phase. The healthy hair follicles in the head are in the growth (anagen) phase for two to six years, in telogen phase for two to three months and catagen phase for two to three weeks. Hair shedding is part of the hair cycling programme and the term exogen has been used to describe this phase. This cycle is then repeated. On an average about 100 hair are shed from the healthy scalp every day.
The male hormone testosterone and its metabolites play an important role in hair growth.
This healthy hair loss can be accelerated under many conditions leading to hair thinning and baldness. Poor health, malnutrition, anaemia, drugs like chemotherapy, infection of the scalp, hormonal imbalance especially hypothyroidism, genetic cause and stress are some of the conditions leading the increased hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia (Male pattern baldness or male pattern hair loss) is the most common cause of baldness and affects 70% of men and upto 40% of women, sometime during their lifespan. It is thought to be because of the increased sensitivity of the hair follicles to shrink under the influence of the male hormones. Other factors like genetics and environment also play an important role.
Male pattern baldness usually involves an M shaped area on the front of the scalp in men and causes a more diffuse hair loss on the front of the scalp in women.
To diagnose the cause of hair loss, your doctor will need to examine you and run some blood test to check for hormone levels and other conditions.
The treatment options will depend on the underlying cause.
Medical treatments include correction of hormone imbalance, correction of anaemia and dietary insufficiencies with supplements, advice about healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle. Not smoking. Treating generalised or localised infections.
Minoxidil is a growth stimulant and its application on the scalp may be tried. Your doctor may advice other scalp lotions or shampoos.
Hair transplantis the only permanent solution to treat areas of baldness. The hair transplant procedures have been refined over time and offer excellent results in experienced hands.