Hair growth is cyclical. There is a growing stage, resting stage and shedding stage (hair fall). 80-90% of hair is in growing stage. 5% is in shedding stage. It is normal to lose 50-100 strands of hair every day. Beyond this number is when we have abnormal hair loss. We may find hairs in various places such as on pillows that we rest our head on, on the comb, on the towel after we shower etc. A common misconception when we lose hair in the shower is that it is due to showering. This is not the case, as showering simply removes hair that is already detached from the scalp.

A big factor that contributes to the health and thickness of our hair is our diet. Following certain diet/weight loss programmes may cause vitamin deficiencies, resulting in hair loss. People who have low haemoglobin levels in their bloodstream may also experience hair loss. Blow-drying hair damages hair follicles. It is important to be wary of hairstyling products such as hair dyes which can cause allergic reactions. Using equipment like flat/curling irons can also cause damage.

Another significant factor that triggers hair loss is stress/anxiety. It is important to find ways to reduce our physical and mental stress as much as possible to promote the vitality of our hair.

Hair loss can occur in different areas of our scalp, in many kinds of shapes and patches. Nowadays various treatments are available. One can seek help from a dermatologist or trichologist if they experience such issues. Male-pattern and female-pattern baldness is predetermined by our genetics. Our hormones also influence this condition.

Male-pattern baldness is also known as androgenetic alopecia. Androgens are sex hormones which is formed from testosterone. DHT is an androgen produced in men during puberty, which help them to develop male sex characteristics. This can cause growth of body and facial hair, but can also induce hair loss on the head, usually in the form of bald spots. This appears initially on the crown and temple of the head, expanding as men age. Female-pattern baldness, also caused by androgens, is more immune-related and usually begins as a widening of the centre hairline of the head. The density of hair tends to reduce over time, especially during menopause. There are now many scientifically proven methods of treating male and female-pattern baldness. Hair growth factors such as oils and serums are available for hair growth. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment can also be done to stimulate hair growth.

Dandruff can also cause hair loss. A significant factor that causes dandruff is having copious amounts of a yeast like-fungus called Malassezia. Dandruff flakes are essentially comprised of dead skin cells, the Malassezia fungus and oil (sebum) secreted from the scalp. Excessive build-up of dandruff causes inflammation of hair follicles, which can stunt hair growth. Not washing the hair enough often leads to this build-up of dandruff, however it is important to note that over-washing the hair also causes hair loss. If anti-dandruff shampoos do not work, one may need to see a dermatologist or trichologist for advanced treatment options. Certain lotions, creams and ointments can be prescribed for this condition.

Women may also experience hair fall post-delivery. This is a normal phenomenon and is hormone related. The intensity of hair fall is usually at its peak three to four months after delivery. This is expected to gradually decrease and return to a normal amount nine months to one year after delivery as hormone levels stabilise. If it persists beyond this period then it will need to be investigated.

To summarise, there are multiple reasons for hair loss. However, in the modern era, there are many remedies as well.

Article Credits
Dr. Sunita Thomas, Dermatologist, CareMithra
Rohan Panicker, Creative Writer, CareMithra