Understanding and Conceptualising Alopecia
Posted on February 02 2021
The term alopecia describes hair loss. It can be caused due to various reasons. The life cycle of hair consists of three stages: the growth stage or anagen stage lasting 2 to 6 years, the intermediate stage with a duration of 2 to 3 weeks, and lastly the dislodgement or dropping stage, with a duration of about three months. During this last period, it is normal for about 50 and 100 hairs to fall out in a day. Baldness is caused when the transition stage (catagen phase) exceeds the growth stage (Anagen phase).
o Seasons: Spring and autumn are the most frequent seasons for hair damage.
o Oral contraceptives: Hair loss can be sped up by the effects of the male hormone contained in some contraceptives.
o Lack of iron: This issue is more prevalent in women mainly if they have heavy or long periods.
o Diet: vegetarians, whose diets are low in protein and patients with anorexia may be protein poor. As a result, in three months’ time, massive loss of hair can be expected.
o Postpartum: after childbirth, some women’s hair may enter the resting stage and begin to fall.
o Stress and illness: Stressful and traumatic events might also cause hair loss. A high fever, severe infections or chronic ailments cause hair loss too.
o Medications: Some medications used in chemotherapy trigger hair to stop cell division. This can result in loss of up to 90% of hair, but in nearly all cases the hair will start to re-flourish once the treatment has ended.
o Heredity: Baldness can be genetic as well.
Types of Alopecia
We can differentiate between different types of alopecia. The most common types include:
Scar less Alopecia:
-Androgenetic alopecia: it is also known as common alopecia due to it being the extremely common form of alopecia. Hair fall starts at age 18 and is visible between the ages of 25 and 30. In this type of hair loss, the hair is replaced by gradually thinner and shorter hair follicle, and in a few cases even transparent hair. This type of alopecia is hereditary from both father and mother. In these cases, there is a large quantity of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone inside the hair follicle. DHT triggers the atrophy of the hair follicle, decreasing the growth cycle. Even Though the follicle is scientifically alive, every time it grows back smaller. Some hair follicle dies and some grow thinner.
As the Anagen stage remains incredibly brief, extra hair begins to fall out, progressively thinning until they become so delicate that it cannot withstand daily combing. This type of hair loss has a very unique pattern in men (male pattern baldness) involving mainly the area over the temples with a receding hairline, as well as weakening hair on the crown of the head. In women, this type of alopecia normally begins between age 20 and 30, with a continuing thinning of hair all over the head, hair shrinking, and no receding of the hairline. Roughly 2 out of 3 men suffer a considerable harmful blow to their self-esteem because of alopecia.
-Alopecia diffusa: Categorised by diminishing hair (acute or chronic) and is owing to a cycle disruption of the hair follicular anagen stage or telogen stage. In this type of alopecia, merely the hair follicles of the scalp are disturbed. But no change in hair follicles from other parts of the body. It influences both men and women.
-Telogen Effluvium: Comprises of unexpected and extensive hair loss due to reasons such as stress, fever, abortion, endocrinological diseases, infectious diseases and surgery. It is the most widespread form of postpartum alopecia since, after birth, much of the hair follicles enter the Telogen stage (30%) and in the end fall off. Typically happens between 2-3 months after delivery and come back naturally in a few months.
-Alopecia Areata: Described by a hair fall appearing in round smooth patches, that take place in one or more reduced areas of the scalp or body. Its source is doubtful, but increasingly, studies indicate that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease wherein the body produces antibodies versus a component of the hair follicle. Stressful settings can additionally trigger the emergence of this type of alopecia. It can occur in both men and women but often affects youth.
-Traumatic Alopecia: Caused by several physical traumas. This type of hair fall can be initiated by the individual person (Trichotillomania) or tear or friction produced by tough hairstyles like braids and bows.
-Trichotillomania: Comprises of obsessive hair pulling. Is habitually set before age 17 and maybe owing to a necessity to get attention or a nervous fit.
-Infectious Alopecia: Mycosis (kerion, candidiasis, favus). Bacterial (syphilis, leprosy, necrotic acne). Viral (herpes, chickenpox). Protozoal (Leishmaniasis)
- Traumatic Alopecia: Traffic collisions. Ionizing Radioactivity (Therapeutic). Thermal injuries or frostbite.
- Chronic Inflammatory Dermatosis Alopecia: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus. Lichen Planus Pilaris. Folliculitis Decalvans.
Alopecia treatments that stand out are:
-Minoxidil. An oral medication utilised to regulate high blood pressure. Patients taking Minoxidil exhibited visible hair growth. So, for over 10 years it has been used in topical blends to the control hair fall. Today, it is one of the highly useful remedies of androgenetic alopecia and other types of hair fall, including alopecia areata patches, total scalp hair loss, or universal hair loss.
-Antiandrogens. Decreases the male hormone (DHT) that causes hair loss. DHT is an androgen (male hormone) vying for a spot in the hair follicle receptors. If hair follicle receptors are taken by other agents, DHT cannot penetrate the hair follicle and consequently does not cause destructive action. The dilemma is that by blocking DHT, somewhere else in the body, indications of feminisation might start to appear in men. In contrast, in women this block is not as much of a challenge.
-Topical oils. Studies have also indicated that topical oils such as organic argan oil might be able to fend off baldness and alopecia. As well as argan oil hair serum and argan oil for beard has shown significant reductions in the amount of daily hair fall. This one of the miraculous argan oil benefits which goes to show just how effective Moroccan argan oil for hair is truly.
Hereditary hair loss is not treatable, but it is manageable, and the sooner be cured the better. Currently, there is not an ideal medication for androgenetic alopecia, but there are drugs that stop hair loss and prolong the life of hair follicles. We must consider the present and future hair treatments because hair needs living hair follicles. With baldness, follicles are miniaturised and die after 5-10 years. With any treatment, you will get better results with more follicles that remain alive. Many other hair problems are temporary and can be treated by dietary measures and other measures. In these cases, good dietary habits as well as eating supplements of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help to stop hair loss and regain normal growth after a few months.