Question from: Khushbu Datta, 32
When people start to see more hair fall than usual, extra hair on their comb, during shampooing, or on the pillow, they obviously get really worried. They think that their hair will not come back. But that isn’t so.
Understanding the hair growth cycle
First of all, let’s understand the basic hair growth cycle. The hair cycle has three phases – anagen, catagen, and telogen. Anagen is the growth phase, during which the hair grows, it lasts from 2-8 years; after this, hair goes through a short transitional phase, which can vary from 2-8 weeks, this is called the catagen phase. The third is the resting or telogen phase, wherein hair starts shedding. This can take about 2-4 months. Once the hair falls, it will go back from the resting phase to the growth phase. And, it will start growing with new energy and new vigour.
This is a cyclical process. People shouldn’t think that once they start losing hair, they will go completely bald. If hair didn’t grow back, we would be bald by our teens!
What causes hair loss?
A person loses about 50-100 strands of hair everyday. But if one is really suffering from hair loss, they will notice more hair than usual on their comb, while washing hair, or on their pillow. If it is severe, then you will start seeing some visible thinning or bald patches. This is when you should consult a doctor, who can diagnose the reason behind your hair fall. It could range from nutritional deficiency, stress, sudden weight loss, a traumatic life event, pregnancy or childbirth, crash dieting, using too much heat or chemical products, or it could be genetic.
Temporary hair loss, triggered by a disturbance to the hair cycle is known as Telogen Effluvium; it is caused by stress, or a sudden traumatic event. It is usually reversible. In this condition, the hair may become visibly thin but people won’t go bald. In Telogen Effluvium, the amount of hair in the telogen or shedding/resting phase increases to about 30%, compared to the usual 5-10% of hair which is in this phase at a given point of time.
There is also something called traction alopecia, it is the type of hair loss which happens to people who may wear their hair in tight ponytails or braids etc. This causes constant stress to the hair follicle leading to hair fall. In some cases, women from some communities who wear turbans may have traction alopecia. Sometimes just changing your hairstyle, if possible, and not tying your hair tightly can solve the problem, however in some cases, we may resort to medication or hair transplant.
The treatment available for hair loss can range from medication to change in hair products. Some women say that they see more thinning in the parting region, for that you could perhaps change your hairstyle, it is an easy remedy. You can also use camouflage products, or you can use a wig.
If there are nutritional deficiencies, you need to improve your diet and add foods which are rich in protein, vitamin, iron, zinc, or selenium, depending on what you are lacking. For this you should consult a nutritionist. If you are going through stress, depression, or other mental health issues, then you have to get psychological help in managing your condition.
However, if you have genetic hair loss or androgenetic alopecia, and are developing a prominent and defined area of hair loss or a bald patch, you can opt for a hair transplant procedure. Normally we see a small percentage of women who come in for hair transplants, maybe about 10%. It is done when you have severe baldness, a bald patch, or scarring from a childhood trauma etc.
How to prevent hair loss?
To prevent hair loss, you should treat your hair gently and kindly, use less heat styling, avoid tight hairstyles, and eat a nutritious diet. Protein for instance is the main component of hair. Protein and keratin form around 80-85% of hair structure, so if there is a protein deficiency, your hair will not grow properly. A protein deficiency can force a large amount of hair into the shedding phase, and it will fall resulting in more than normal hair loss. If there is an iron deficiency, if we don’t eat green leafy vegetables, lentils, our hair will suffer. These deficiencies can also cause your hair to look dull and lifeless, and become more brittle.
You should also exercise regularly, as it improves blood circulation, which means more nutrients will reach your hair follicles and nourish them. You should also avoid very hot showers. Smoking and alcohol consumption is best avoided as well, as these constrict your blood vessels inhibiting blood flow to your hair follicles.
Dr. Sangay Bhutia
Hair Transplant Expert
Dr. Sangay Bhutia has vast experience in the field of hair transplant and has been in this field for more than 12 years.
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