Hair loss can be of many types but we will be discussing about the most common type only to keep this blog concise and crisp.
The most common type of hair loss is a condition called androgenetic alopecia. This type of hair loss can affect both men and women. Other terms for androgenetic alopecia include “male pattern balding” and “female pattern hair loss.”
For many people, losing their hair is a frustrating experience. Fortunately, treatments are available that can help to regrow hair or prevent further hair loss.
HAIR LOSS CAUSES
The hair follicle is a structure that encases the lower part of the hair shaft. Each follicle contains blood vessels that nurture new hair growth. All hair follicles are present at birth; throughout the lifetime, each follicle grows and sheds single hairs in a repetitive cycle.
The growth phase for a single new hair lasts two to three years. ( anlagen phase)
At the end of this time, growth ceases and the follicle enters a resting phase. ( telegenic
After three to four months in the resting phase, the hair is shed (catagen phase) and the next growth cycle begins.
On a normal scalp, approximately 80 to 90 percent of follicles are growing at any time. Each day, about 75 to 100 follicles shed their hair while the same number enter a new growth phase.
In men with androgenetic alopecia, hormones related to testosterone (also called dihydrotestosterone or DHT) cause hair follicles to have a shorter-than-normal growth phase, resulting in hair shafts that are abnormally short and thin. These follicles are said to be “miniaturized.” Genetic background strongly influences the development of androgenetic alopecia in men.
Genetics also appears to play a role in the risk for androgenetic alopecia in women, although other factors- mainly nutritional are also important.
HAIR LOSS SYMPTOMS
Men and women experience androgenetic alopecia with equal frequency, although it is less severe and may be camouflaged better in women. In men, androgenetic alopecia is characterized by gradual hair thinning that most often affects the crown and frontal areas of the scalp. In many men, the hairline around the temples regresses. As it moves back to the midscalp, an M-shaped hair pattern develops.
Women may have similar patterns of hair loss but most commonly it is heralded by an increased visibility of parting line , although typically the hair loss is a little more diffuse than in men; women rarely experience loss of all their hair.
PSYCHOSOCIAL IMPACT OF HAIR LOSS
The psychosocial impact of hair loss can be severe for some people since there is little acceptance of the condition. Both women and men may have difficulty with issues of low self-esteem or feeling unattractive.
HAIR LOSS TREATMENT
Two medications, minoxidil and finasteride, are available to treat male pattern balding in men. Women can be treated with minoxidil or a medication called spironolactone. Occasionally, finasteride is used in women who do not respond to other therapies, but it is not clear whether it is effective. Surgical options may also be considered in some cases.
Minoxidil — Minoxidil promotes hair growth by lengthening the growth phase of hair follicles and causing more follicles to produce hair. The hairs that are produced tend to be larger and thicker. Minoxidil is available in a 2 and 5 percent liquid or 5 percent foam
Results — Minoxidil must be used for at least six months to determine if it is effective. When it is effective, you usually begin to shed less hair within two months after the start of treatment, and by four to eight months hair begins to grow. The effects of minoxidil usually stabilize after 12 to 18 months of use.
Treatment with minoxidil must be continued indefinitely. If it is discontinued, any hair that has been maintained or regrown as a result of the medication will be lost.
Finasteride— Finasteride is a pill that decreases the production of one of the hormones associated with androgenetic alopecia, resulting in an increased amount of hair covering more of the scalp.
Men can take finasteride by mouth at a dose of 1 milligram (mg) per day.
Finasteride is not safe for use in women who could become pregnant because of concerns regarding the development of abnormal genitalia in the male fetus.
Spironolactone — Spironolactone also decreases the production of hormones that contribute to androgenetic alopecia. Women with androgenetic alopecia who do not respond to minoxidil may benefit from the addition of spironolactone.
Platelet-Rich Plasma or PRP, is showing impressive results in reversing hair loss.
What is PRP?
PRP therapy, also known as Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy is a procedure which involves drawing out one’s own blood and centrifuging it so that the plasma with platelets collects in the tube. This plasma rich in platelets and growth factors is very useful in tissue regeneration and healing. It is then injected on the scalp in the areas which suffer from hair loss.
Who should opt for PRP?
PRP is recommended as an adjuvant to medical treatment. It is an effective way especially for more stubborn areas of hair loss. The treatment requires monthly sittings, a minimum of 3 to 4 for best results.
It is quite a safe procedure without problematic side-effects. Since it involves drawing out blood and multiple needle pricks, it may seem uncomfortable and scary but a scalp block and/or numbing cream is used prior to the procedure to reduce the discomfort.
Surgery — For some patients, surgical treatment of hair loss may be an option. Surgical options include hair transplantation, in which healthy follicles from other parts of the scalp are transplanted to areas affected by baldness.