Hair Loss: Causes and Treatment

May 24 07:59 2011 Jake Marvis Print This Article

All hair-bearing animals lose hair naturally. Each person sheds hair and regrows
hair every day. When this balance is disturbed and more hairs are shed than are
regrown, alopecia or hair loss results. Hair loss can be an intense emotional
problem to an individual, both to the girl in her twenties or thirties whose hair starts
to thin out very fast to the young man in his twenties who has developed bald head.

Hair Loss Hair loss (alopecia) occurs naturally in all hair-bearing animals. Humans lose about 100 scalp hairs every 24 hours. Loss of hair can become an emotional and a cosmetic problem to an individual when it occurs in the wrong place and at the wrong time. A woman wakes up in the morning to be greeted by several strands of hair on the pillow. Or she runs a quick comb through the hair and observes to her chagrin a thick mass caught up in the teeth.There are three cycles of hair growth: growing,Guest Posting resting, and shedding. In humans, each follicle cycles at its own individual rate. In animals, all hairs cycle at the same time, and change with the season. This is why animal fur grow thicker in the fall and thinner in the spring and why human beings do not shed hair.Unlike most animals, in humans, each hair has its own pattern of growing, resting, and shedding. Each person sheds hair and regrows hair every day.When this balance is disturbed and more hairs are shed than are regrown, alopecia or hair loss results.However, it is to be noted that true hair loss is distinct from ordinary damage to the hair shaft. This kind of damage is usually caused by external chemicals used to alter thephysical structure of the hair shaft.      Cosmetically significant hair loss can be divided into two categories, namely: scarring alopecia and non-scarring alopecia.In Scarring Alopecia, the skin that houses the hair follicle is irreversibly damaged, and the resultant scarring has destroyed the hair follicle and its ability to regenerate. When visual examination is not sufficient to diagnose this problem,  a biopsy may occasionally be necessary. Some skin diseases, accidents, as well as physical trauma mayproduce this kind of damage.In Non-scarring Alopecia, there is no irreversible physical damage to the scalp.This type of hair loss is very common and can be completely reversed by treatment. This hair loss can be as a result of a lot of things, including certain diseases, drugs, aging, crash diet, as well as a genetic susceptibility to hair loss called androgenetic alopecia (common balding). Common causes of hair lossMale-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), is determined genetically. The hair follicles in the center of the scalp and over the temple of the afflicted individualbegin to thin out, producing small, fine hairs which are barely visible. This is what results when testosterone is metabolized by an enzyme in the hair follicle. And because the hair follicles over the ears and back of the scalp do not possess this enzyme a fringe of normal hair is maintained.Female-pattern baldness is very similar to its male counterpart although it is rarely as complete, more diffuse, and often a frontal hairline is maintained.Alopecia areata, a non-scarring alopecia, is an autoimmune disease characterized by a spontaneously marginal loss of hair over an area. At extreme, this can result in the loss of 100% of all body hair.Uncommon causes of alopeciaInfections such as syphilis and fungal infections, poor nutrition, skin diseases such as lupus and lichen planus, skin cancers, hormonal disorder, kidney failure, liver failure, thyroid disease, can cause hair loss.Treatment for Hair LossFinasteride helps stop hair loss in about 60% of men, and minoxidil decreases hair loss in about 50% of men and women.The best prevention of hair loss is early treatment. Research has shown that minoxidil is most useful for people who have been losing hair for less than five years.A doctor who can help determine if the medications are working and who can watch for side effects of the medications should follow up with people who are being treated with minoxidil or finasteride.Medical TreatmentAndrogenetic alopeciaFinasteride (Propecia): a pill taken once daily that blocks the activity of an enzyme that metabolizes testosterone. Any regrowth is not permanent, however. Finasteride is not currently used for the treatment of hair loss in women.Minoxidil (Rogaine, Loniten): This medication is rubbed directly onto the scalp. It enlarges hairs and makes them grow for a longer period.This works for both men and women.It is active for balding at the top and back of the head and less active for the front area of the scalp.Warning: Stopping this medication can result in loss of the hair that grew during its use.Alopecia areataInjection of steroids directly into the areas of skin affected can lessen the hair loss for some time.Hair loss in WomenSituations like pregnancy, crash dieting, or severe emotional trauma can definitely result in thinning hair. In such cases its recommended that you get on Rogaine Foam or Tricomin Therapy Spray or both, to help re-start the hair growth process.Female Androgenetic AlopeciaAndrogenetic Alopecia in women is  characterized by thinning freely spreading throughout the scalp. This has been noted to be very similar to mens Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness). In both cases, the reason you are losing your hair is a sensitivity of your follicles to the hormones in your scalp. To be sure, the enzyme in the hair follicle metabolizes the hormone known as DHT, or Dihydro-Testosterone changing it into a substance that does not permit hair growth. This is why treatments for women's androgenetic alopecia include DHT blockers, and antiandrogens, just like with men. Some typical treatments are Topical Spironolactone (S5) cream, Revivogen, and (with the consent of your doctor only), Propecia.Female Androgenetic Alopecia is just one kind of diffuse hair loss experienced by women. Some common causes of Female Androgenetic Alopecia are: starting or stopping birth control, the postpartum period, and pre and early post menopausal periods. With Female Androgenetic Alopecia, women rarely go completely bald. The end result of the condition is a visible decrease in density of hair in the affected areas.Are you suffering from temporary hair loss (Telogen Effluvium)or Androgenetic Alopecia?Please always remember that Telogen Effluvium is temporary both in cause, and duration. How do you determine whether you have Androgenetic Alopecia, or Telogen Effluvium? Appropriate blood tests should be able to revealwhether there have been any underlying hormonal imbalances. And on your part you should beable to determine if you've had any extremely traumatic experiences or conditions in the past. If the blood tests reveal no imbalances, and you do not have any significant life changing events to point to, and your hair has been thinning for a prolonged period of time, then it's time to safely conclude that you are dealing with Androgenetic Alopecia. If however you can specify a traumatic event (pregnancy, birth control pills, etc), your hair loss has been short lived, or you identify a thyroid or other imbalance, this can be called Telogen Effluvium.Common Causes of Telogen Effluvium in WomenThe following are the most common causes of telogen effluvium (temporary hair loss) in women: Birth Control: Starting or stopping birth control. Postpartum Period: After pregnancy it is common to lose hair. It is typically restored on its own or with the help of Rogaine Foam or Tricomin Therapy Spray or both. Hormonal: Changes in hormone levels or thyoroid imbalances are common reversible causes.Nutritional: Crash dieting, e.g for weight loss, severe nutritional deprivation, alcoholism, zinc or iron deficiency can all be causes of TE. (Fever): 2 to 5 months after severe fever related illness, TE can begin. Systemic Illness: Conditions such as Crohn's or Hepatic Disease, Syphilis, Lymphoproliferative disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease. Medications: A large number of drugs have been reported to cause or possibly cause, diffuse Alopecia.The treatment is the same for both Androgenetic Alopecia and Telogen Effluvium. A growth stimulant is highly advised as a foundational course of action, whether it be Rogaine Foam or Tricomin Therapy Spray or both. Those with Androgenetic Alopecia should however begin to look into the available antiandrogen treatments. For further information please visit How to Take care of Your Skin

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About Article Author

Jake Marvis
Jake Marvis

Jake Marvis is a Lawyer and a Computer Scientist. He is a man with eclectic interests.
His areas of interest include internet technology, marketing, health and law.
He's 40, lives in Glendale, AZ; single, has a beautiful daughter in college.
Some of his blogs are:

Weight Loss Tips for Superstars,
How to Take Care of Your Skin

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