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Hair Fall Alopecia Types Causes Tests And Treatment

HealthcareOnTime Team 2022-03-09 2023-08-15 3 Min Read
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  • Hair Fall Alopecia Types Causes Tests And Treatment

    Stress and Tension - Literally makes us pull out our hair! But hold on to this thought, as the symbol of enchanting beauty highly advertised even in fairy tales; our hair, also naturally fall off! How many times have we noticed receding hair lines and falling hair with worry lines on our face? Daily you can hear somebody complaining about their hairfall, and it has become a very common problem, affecting people of all ages. Likewise, nowadays the market is also flooded with hair care products ranging from anti-hairfall shampoos to hair tonics, oils, serum, gel, etc. all for treating hairfall.

    What needs to be understood here, is hairfall is a very natural phenomenon with a count between 75 - 100 hairs being lost each day being considered normal. However, excess or abnormal loss of hair from the scalp is clinically termed as ALOPECIA. This condition is triggered by a genetic element which makes you vulnerable to either a male or female pattern baldness or to any other forms of alopecia. Also, it can be a symptom of many other short-term events like stress, pregnancy, medication, which can alter hair growth and the shedding phase. Let us understand this condition, its types and causes behind it.

    There are several kinds of alopecia based on the pattern of hair loss.

    Androgenetic Alopecia: It is a common form of alopecia occurring in both men and women. This condition develops due to combination of hormones and heredity conditions.

    Alopecia Areata: Alopecia areata is a condition caused due to an autoimmune condition. It usually presents as a sudden hair loss in oval or circular patches on some or all areas of the body

    Alopecia Totalis: Complete loss of hair from head due to stress.

    Alopecia Universalis: Complete loss of hair from the whole body including eyebrows.

    Alopecia Areata Barbae: Loss of hair (in men) from beard area.

    Traction Alopecia: It is a form of hair loss caused due to excessive pulling or treating of hair, especially during certain hair styles.

    Telogen Effluvium: This develops when your body experiences certain traumatic conditions like surgery, severe infection, childbirth, malnutrition or extreme stress.

    Anagen Effluvium: This condition is commonly associated with chemotherapy and some medications.

    Alopecia can arise due to various conditions which may include hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, heredity, hair care habits and ageing.
    Hormonal changes (menopause, childbirth, thyroid disorder, pregnancy)
    Medical conditions (anemia, syphilis, anorexia, trichotillomania, autoimmune disease, ringworm, infections or illnesses)
    Medications (anabolic steroids, antidepressants, blood pressure or heart medications, blood thinners, excess of vitamin A, birth control pills)
    Hair care habits (brushing, chemical treatments, excessive shampooing, use of hair accessories, blow-dryers, hair colouring, tight ponytails)
    Nutritional and emotional stress can also contribute to hair loss.

    Hairfall is a symptom of many health problems, and hence to detect the exact reason for the same is an essential part of treatment. On visit to a trichologist for treatment, the initial consultation round would include history about medications, diet, any allergies, health issues, etc. Few physical and blood tests are also recommended for differential diagnosis. They are as follows:

    Hair Pull Test In this test, a doctor lightly pulls a small amount of hair i.e. approximately 40 to 60 scalp hair between the thumb, index and middle finger. If more than 3 hairs break or detach from the scalp, the patient is diagnosed to be suffering from excessive hair loss.

    Pluck Test Hair is plucked and the roots are examined for phases of growth (anagen or telogen) under microscope.

    Scalp Biopsy A small section of scalp is taken from the area of hair loss and examined under the microscope to determine the cause of hair loss.

    Daily Hair Counts Patients are asked to collect the hair fallen off the scalp in a plastic bag for 14 days. Daily hair count is maintained. If the count is more than 100 hair/day, it is considered as an abnormal condition. However, hairfall during shampooing is exempted.

    Trichoscopy It is a non-invasive method used for evaluation of hair or scalp disease, especially analysing the lesions associated with them. This method is based on videodermoscopy and dermoscopy that allows quick examination of the hair & scalp using high resolution images of several magnifications for diagnosis of hair loss.

    Laboratory Tests As physical examination may or may not be able to identify the exact trigger for alopecia, routine laboratory tests are also recommended based on the results of physical examination and medical history. Tests include estimation of hormone levels like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone, androstenedione, follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin and

    Surgical Treatments Hair transplants, scalp reduction and laser treatment are used, especially in cases wherein the medications have been deemed to be ineffective.

    Hair Transplant In this technique, a small section of skin bearing hair from the posterior part or sides of the head are excised and divided into single hair follicles. These divided single follicular units are then implanted in the bald region of the scalp. The grafts will heal overnight and the new hair will grow after six months of transplantation.

    Scalp Reduction In this process, the excess scalp without hair is removed and is overlapped with hair-covered scalp.

    Other miscellaneous techniques include use of wigs, hairpieces (permanent or temporary), head massages with oils, incorporating functional foods or low level laser therapy. Hair has always been considered a symbol of beauty from age old times, with descriptions and records of its care being documented even in the ancient literature. Such a significant part of our overall personality, can be easily damaged partially because of genetics and the rest by lifestyle habits.

    Hair health is also considered as an indicator of overall biological performance. Though genetic factors cannot be controlled, associated contributing elements like stress, food habits, lifestyle, etc. can be dealt with. These measures can help decrease the effects of alopecia and retain the beauty of hair.

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