Hair fall: The worst nightmare


Receding hairline, thinning hair, reduced volume of hair and sometimes even patchy hair loss; these are few problems that many of us have encountered. A thought about losing your hair which are your pride and define your personality always runs chills through your spine. Hair fall can be an age related factor or it can also be due to prolonged sickness. Males are usually seen to have a patterned baldness due to the fact that they have a gene that expresses itself in presence of testosterone which is male sex hormone. The natural presence of male sex hormones predispose males to have a more pronounced hair fall while this can happen in females as well in times of stress but it is relatively less common in females.

What are different types of hair fall?

Psychological impact of hair loss is irrespective of pattern of hair loss but the physiological reasons vary and so does the pattern in which hair fall occurs. Various patterns of hair loss have been described below.

  • Male pattern baldness

    This is the classical pattern of hair loss in males and is due to the effect of male sexual hormone testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. The hair loss usually starts in mid-twenties but can also occur as early as in puberty. It has a classical pattern which starts with a receding hairline and then there is loss of hair in the temple which is accompanied by hair loss at the scalp leaving hair only at the sides and occiput.

  • Female pattern baldness

    Female pattern baldness is different from the male pattern baldness as it usually starts with a generalized hair loss causing thinning of hair which is also accompanied by the receding hair line. There is an overall decrease in density of the hair and a receding hairline.

  • Patchy hair loss

    Patchy hair loss is pathological condition and is not a normal physiological process. It has many causes of which alopecia areata is one of the causes. You should consult your healthcare provider as soon as you observe the patchy hair loss.

  • Traction hair loss

    Traction hair loss occurs when you style your hair in such a manner that causes a pulling of hair. It usually occurs in females who style their hair in very tight braids.

What causes hair fall?

There are many causes that predispose you at a risk of having hair fall. Some of the causes have been described below.

  • Genetic: Patterned baldness which is mainly seen in males is due to action of male sex hormones and the combination of genes that are present that predispose an individual to the baldness or hair fall. In males it can start as early as in puberty.
  • Hormonal: The hormonal causes of the hair fall are commonly seen in females. The major attributes of hair fall in females are pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and discontinuation of oral contraceptive pills.
  • Medical conditions: There are also certain medical conditions that predispose you for hair fall. Some of the medical conditions have been listed below
    1. Thyroid problems
    2. Alopecia areata
    3. Scalp infection
    4. Lichen planus
    5. Lupus erythematosus
  • Medications: There are certain medications which have a side effect of hair fall. The medications for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure also cause hair fall.
  • Physical or emotional shock: In cases of extreme physical or emotional shock which is accompanied by excessive or sudden weight loss, high fever or death in family, there is an extreme and sudden hair loss. It is also known as telogen effluvium.
  • Psychiatric disorders: In certain psychiatric and mental disorders individuals have an unusual behaviour of pulling their hair which may cause patchy loss of hair. This is also known as hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania).
  • Traction hair loss: It is more commonly seen in females who style their hair in tight braids which causes traction and pulling of hair making them weak from the roots and hence causing hair breakage and hair loss.

What are the risk factors?

There are certain factors that cause you at risk of having a hair fall. Some of them are:

  • Family history: You are more likely to have a hair fall if you have a family history of hair fall especially when you are a male. If either of your maternal or paternal uncles, cousins or grandparents have a history of hair fall than you are also at risk of having hair fall.

  • Hair treatments: If you get your chemically treated too often which includes colouring, smoothening, curling or perming; it will result in weakening of your hair from roots causing breakage of hair and hair fall.

  • Poor nutrition: If you have a diet that is not rich in proteins and multivitamins than it is probable that you will lose your hair early.

Home remedies to control hair fall

  • Use of hair oils like mustard oil, amla oil, brahmi oil for hair and scalp massage which condition the scalp and increase the strength of hair's roots.
  • Consuming diet containing vitamin C, B-complex, Zinc, sulphur can help in strengthening of hairs. Include buttermilk, nuts, sprouts, soy beans, fenugreek in diet.
  • Onion juice is helpful in reducing hair fall. It improves blood circulation to hair follicles and helps in regeneration of hair follicles.
  • Drinking fresh juices of aloe vera, carrot, alfalfa help in control of hair fall.
  • Herbs like neem, reetha, bhringraj can also be used.

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Dr. Sanjeev Gupta

MD, DNB (Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology) | Professor and Head of the Department (M.M. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research)

Mullana Medical College, Ambala

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