PATTERN HAIR LOSS
The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenetic
alopecia, also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness.
This is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top
and sides of the head. It affects approximately one-third
of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after
menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal
hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. Fortunately,
these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost
hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds
125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parents
side of the family.
There are two different types of hair loss, medically known
as anagen effluvium and Telogen
effluvium. Anagen effluvium
is generally due to internally administered medications,
such as chemotherapy agents, that poison the growing hair
follicle. Telogen effluvium, is due to an increased number
of hair follicles entering the resting stage.
The most common causes of telogen effluvium are:
Physical stress: surgery, illness, anemia, rapid weight
Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
Medications: High doses of Vitamin A, Blood
pressure and Gout medications.
Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause.
When the above causes of telogen effluvium are reversed
or altered you should see the return of normal hair growth.
Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. Franchised diet programs which are
designed or administered under the direction of a physician with prescribed
meals, dietary supplements and vitamin ingestion have become popular. Sometimes
the client is told that vitamins are a necessary part of the program to prevent
hair loss associated with dieting. From a dermatologists's standpoint, however,
the vitamins cannot prevent hair loss associated with rapid, significant
weight loss. Furthermore, many of these supplements are high in vitamin A
which can magnify the hair loss.
PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS
Surgeries, severe illnesses and emotional stress can cause hair loss. The body
simply shuts down production of hair during periods of stress since it is not
necessary for survival and instead devotes its energies toward repairing vital
body structures. In many cases there is a three month delay between the actual
event and the onset of hair loss. Furthermore, there may be another three month
delay prior to the return of noticeable hair regrowth. This then means that
the total hair loss and regrowth cycle can last 6 months or possibly longer
when induced by physical or emotional stress. There are some health conditions
which may go undetected that can contribute to hair loss. These include anemia
or low blood count and thyroid abnormalities. Both of these conditions can
be detected by a simple, inexpensive blood test.
Hormonal changes are a common cause of female hair loss. Many women do not
realize that hair loss can occur after pregnancy or following discontinuation
of birth control pills. It is important to remember that the hair loss may
be delayed by three months following the hormonal change and another three
months will be required for new growth to be fully achieved.
MYTHS RELATED TO HAIR LOSS
• Frequent shampooing contributes to hair loss.
• Hats and wigs cause hair loss.
• 100 strokes of the hair brush daily will create healthier hair.
• Permanent hair loss is caused by perms, colors and other cosmetic treatments.
• Women are expected to develop significant hair loss if they are healthy.
• Shaving one's head will cause the hair to grow back thicker.
• Standing on one's head will cause increased circulation and thereby stimulate
• Dandruff causes permanent hair loss.
• There are cosmetic products that will cause the hair to grow thicker and
• Stress causes permanent hair loss.
• Hair loss does not occur in the late teens or early twenties.
• Hair loss affects only intellectuals.
• There is a cure for androgenetic Alopecia.
These are only a few of the common myths heard by physicians
and other hair loss specialists on a daily basis. The AHLC
suggests that you first have your hair loss diagnosed by
a competent dermatologist who sees hair loss patients on
a regular basis. Once you know the diagnosis you will have
a better understanding of exactly which treatment option
may be best for you.