A woman’s hair is definitely her crowning, more for some women than others. Nevertheless, when hair begins to break off, fall out or, thin; it can quickly become frustrating and embarrassing. There are many reasons why hair can begin to thin and even fall out. Today, we will take a look at hair, some of the reasons for this, and things you can do to prevent and combat it.
The Basics of Hair:
Hair grows everywhere on the human skin except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet, but many hairs are so fine they’re virtually invisible. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin (the same protein in nails) produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin; as follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells. The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; so finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for alarm.
At any one time, about 90% of the hair on a person’s scalp is growing. Each follicle has its own life cycle that can be influenced by age, disease, and a wide variety of other factors.
Types of Hair Loss:
As people age, their rate of hair growth slows.
There are many types of hair loss, also called alopecia:
Gradual thinning of hair with age is a natural condition known as involutional alopecia. More and more hair follicles go into a telogen, or resting, phase, and the remaining hairs become shorter and fewer in numbers.
Androgenic alopecia is another form of hair loss. It’s a genetically predisposed condition that can affect both men and women. Men with this condition can begin suffering hair loss as early as their teens or early 20s, while most women don’t experience noticeable thinning until their 40s or later.
In men, the condition is also called male pattern baldness. It’s characterized by a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown. In women, androgenic alopecia is referred to as female pattern baldness. Women with the condition experience a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the most extensive hair loss at the crown.
Patchy hair loss in children and young adults, often sudden in onset, is known as alopecia areata. This condition may result in complete baldness, but in about 90% of cases the hair returns, usually within a few years.
With alopecia universalis, all body hair falls out.
Tearing out one’s own hair, a psychological disorder known as trichotillomania, is seen most frequently in children.
Telogen effluvium is hair thinning over the scalp that occurs because of changes in the growth cycle of hair. A large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing shedding and subsequent thinning.
Reasons For Hair Loss:
In order to attempt to treat hair loss, we must first figure out the reason for the hair loss. There are numerous reasons for hair loss, a few include:
- Medications: Some medications that can cause temporary hair loss include chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, steroids, blood thinners, retinoids used to treat acne and other skin problems, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and birth control pills.
- Ringworm: A fungal infection, ringworm, can cause a patterned hair loss. This type of hair loss is very indicative of ringworm. Ringworm is treatable, and once treated the hair usually returns.
- Alopecia areata, a disease that often strikes children or teenagers, remain unexplained. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system revs up for unknown reasons and affects the hair follicles. In most cases the hair grows back, although it may be very fine and possibly a different color before normal coloration and thickness return.
- Daily Wear and Tear (Literally): Although shampooing too often, perms, bleaching, and dyeing hair do not cause baldness, they can contribute to overall thinning by making hair weak and brittle. Tight braiding and using rollers or hot curlers can damage and break hair, and running hair picks through tight curls can scar hair follicles. In most instances hair grows back normally if the source of the problem is removed, but severe damage to the hair or scalp sometimes causes permanent bald patches.
- Thyroid Disorder: Hair cells are some of the fastest growing in the body. When the body is in crisis (like in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), the hair cells can shut down to redirect energy elsewhere. Many people notice rapid hair loss as a symptom. Some people actually say this is the worst symptom of their thyroid problem — this thinning hair, large amounts falling out in the shower or sink, often accompanied by changes in the hair’s texture, making it dry, coarse, or easily tangled.
- Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency: Zinc, iron, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients are responsible for hair growth. If these deficiencies occur, for whatever reason, hair loss is likely. Poor diet can easily be the reason for the deficiency, and easily correctable as well.
- Stress: Stress has been associated with hair loss for many years. During times of extreme stress, the body loses large amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein (in the form of nitrogen) in the urine. This sudden loss of nutrients has been thought as a factor in hair loss. The stress may be caused by illnesses such as scarlet fever; it may follow pregnancy or other illnesses.During times of stress, cortisol levels also increase. Cortisol is a hormone produce by the adrenal glands. It has many important functions. However, in excess, I believe that it can trigger hair loss as well as bone loss
Treating Hair Loss:
When you notice hair loss, it is important to see your primary care provider. They can easily evaluate the pattern of the hair loss. Lab work is most beneficial to assess your thyroid function and electrolyte levels. If any of these blood tests are abnormal treating the underlying usually results in hair growth.
Natural Ways to Treat Hair Loss:
If all of your blood work is normal, and the cause is not of a medical source then there are things you can do to help regrow your hair.
Take a Multivitamin: I am an advocate of the multivitamin. You can go to your local drug store and get a generic once a day multivitamin. This is your first step to good health, not only to regrow hair – but for many health benefits.
Diet Matters: Nutritious diet consisting of foods rich in B vitamins, proteins, iron etc. is a highly recommended solution to the query of how to make your hair grow faster and longer.
So, replace your empty calories with healthy foods like spinach, beans, broccoli, green bell peppers, lettuce, milk, fish, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes, bananas, apricots, yogurt, soy products, oregano, flaxseeds, nuts, whole grains etc.
Moisture Is The Key: What you put on your hair does matter. There are many different products you can use that are beneficial to you hair. I absolutely recommend Biolage Matrix Conditioning Balm. I should buy stock in it. It actually repairs overworked hair. It is pricey, but well worth the price.
When using conditioners to avoid tangles and provide moisture, apply the product only on the lower half of your hair, particularly focusing on the dry ends and carefully avoiding the scalp.
In addition, do not shampoo your hair too often and do not try to brush wet hair when striving for faster hair growth to get long hair. It is better to comb semi-moist hair with the help of a wide teethed comb.
Always wash your hair with cold or at most lukewarm water, not hot water. Cold water also increases shine in hair.
Hair Packs: Banana and avocado together make a great hair pack for thin hair. Bananas contain potassium and vitamin A which clarifies and regulates the moisture balance in the scalp. This is important because an unhealthy scalp could be the cause of thinning and brittle hair. Avocados also have vitamin A but are also rich with protein, B vitamins and vitamin E. Mash 1/4 of a banana and 1/4 of an avocado until it becomes a smooth creamy spread. Apply to the scalp and the entire length of hair and cover with a shower cap. Leave the hair pack on for 20 minutes and rinse well. Shampoo as usual. Hair will be stronger and healthier, and the scalp will feel clean.
Another homemade hair mask to accelerate hair growth is made by mixing a tablespoon of honey in one egg yolk. Apply this hair pack on the scalp and leave it for about half an hour. Finally, rinse your hair with mildly lukewarm water to remove the sticky mixture. Follow this procedure at least once every week.
Avoid Chemicals and Heat: Chemical and heat treatments like curling irons on hair gradually make them fragile prone to breakage. Even hair dryers should not be used too frequently as they tend to make hair dry.
In fact, it is better to use a leave-in conditioner before blow drying your hair. Moreover, use the dryer on the ends and middle portion, carefully avoiding hair on the scalp to minimize damage.
Another good product prior to straightening or using a flat iron is Chi Silk Infusion. Again, it is a bit pricey, but provides protection for your hair if you use a flat iron often.
Hair loss, in and of itself, can be very distressing. Our hair is our glory, our identity. But have no fear; hair loss is very often treatable. Take the first step and make an appointment to see your health care provider to discuss your concerns. Then, try some of the natural ways to promote health and growth for your hair.
Finally, share your story here. What have you done to treat your hair loss, or even to make your hair healthier and stronger? I want to hear from you!