Everyone loses hair and it is normal to lose 50-100 hairs every day. But the excess loss of hair is distressing development and it can lead to baldness. There are several causes of baldness. However, the most common cause of baldness is hereditary hair loss.
What is baldness?
Baldness is the excessive loss of hair from the scalp. There are many types of baldness and each type has its own causes. The treatment of the baldness depends upon its cause of the occurrence.
Causes of baldness
Baldness can occur due to a number of reasons as:
- Illness: You may suffer baldness after a serious illness or a major surgery. Diseases as cancer or AIDS cause baldness.
- Hormonal problems: Hormonal issues like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can cause excessive hair fall. This baldness can be treated by treating thyroid disease.
- Medication: Some medicines as blood thinners; medicines for gout heart problems or high blood pressure can cause baldness. This type of baldness improves after stopping the administration of medicine.
- Infections: Certain infections as fungal infections of the scalp can cause baldness.
- Heredity: The most common type of baldness is androgenetic alopecia which occurs due to the genetics of a person. The person having the family history of baldness is much more likely to suffer from it.
Types of baldness
There are different types of baldness such as:
- Alopecia areata: It starts suddenly and causes patches of baldness. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. A person suffering from this type of baldness may loss all the hair.
- Androgenic alopecia: It is a genetic condition. In men, this condition is known as male pattern balding, which can begin during late teens or early 20s. In women, this condition is known as female pattern balding. It begins to notice the thinning of their hair after 40 years of age.
- Cicatricial alopecia: It is also known as scarring alopecia which occurs mostly in adults. In this condition, the hair follicles get destroyed and hair can never grow back.
- Trichotillomania: It is a psychological disease that mainly affects the children who tear and pull out their hair. This destroys hair follicles and prevents the growth of hair.
- Telogen effluvium: It occurs mainly due to the stress, illnesses such as cancer and medications such as blood thinners. In this condition, baldness occurs on the scalp and hair generally regrows after the stress period is over.
- Traction alopecia: This condition is common in women. It occurs because of the tension in the hair shafts caused by tight pigtails, ponytails or braids.
- Anagen effluvium: It is widespread hair loss all over the body which occurs due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy. The hair loss is generally temporary and hairs grow back after some period of time.
- Folliculitis: Folliculitis is a skin disorder which is caused by inflammation and infection in the hair follicles. It can occur on skin wherever hair grows. It generally appears as small bumps.
- Lichen planopilaris: It is a rare inflammatory disease which leads to patchy progressive permanent hair loss primarily on the scalp.
Difference between Baldness & Hair Loss
Hair loss can affect your scalp or your entire body. It can be caused due to heredity, hormonal changes, medications or medical conditions. It can affect men, women and children whereas; baldness refers to the excessive loss of hair from the scalp. The most common cause of baldness is hereditary hair loss with age.
Causes of permanent baldness
The two types of baldness that are considered to be permanent are androgenetic alopecia and cicatricial alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia occurs due to genetic factors and cicatricial alopecia is caused by trauma, lupus, autoimmune disorders, infection, genetics and follicle degeneration which attack the stem cells. Stem cells lay at the base of hair follicles. The failure of stem cells results in the hair loss and ultimately baldness as follicles become unable to produce new hair.
Causes of temporary baldness
Following are the causes that lead to temporary baldness:
- Hypothyroidism: In the condition of hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough of some hormones, which disturbs the normal chemical balance. This can result in hair thinning, which can be reversed if hypothyroidism is controlled.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can result in a number of changes in your body. After pregnancy, women can suffer an abnormal amount of hair loss due to shifting of hair follicles into a shedding phase. This condition usually ends three to four months following pregnancy.
- Stress: Extreme emotional physical stress can shift the hair follicles towards a premature shedding phase. If stress is under control, then hair follicle cycle may return back to the more normal phase.
- Medications: Chemotherapy is one of the most common cancer treatments. It causes temporary hair loss. There are certain other medicines as blood thinners that can cause temporary hair loss.
- Hairstyles and treatments: Frequent use of chemicals to colour, straighten or curl your hair, can cause hair loss. Overuse of styling products with heat styling tools as curling irons and flat irons can lead to baldness or excessive hair loss.
Types of baldness which can be reversed
The baldness types which are caused by stress, medicine, pregnancy or hormonal imbalance can be reversed if the underlying causes are treated or controlled. Baldness types as alopecia areata, telogen effluvium or traction alopecia can be reversed.
Types of treatment for baldness
Following are the common treatments for the baldness:
- Medicines: There are only two medicines approved by the U.S. FDA for baldness:
- Minoxidil: Minoxidil is a topical preparation which appears to provide regrowth of hair on the scalp area that has gone bald. Minoxidil acts on hair follicles to reverse their shrinking process to promote new hair growth. Its application must be continued indefinitely otherwise hair loss will recur. This medicine is approved for both men and women.
- Finasteride: This medicine is designed only for men. It works by blocking the formation of the male hormones in the skin which can cause hair loss.
- Hair transplantation: Hair transplantation is surgery done for the treatment of baldness. The two most advanced techniques of hair transplant are:
- Direct hair transplant: It is a new hair transplant technique. It is the modification of FUE technique and it is different from all the techniques which have existed for years.
- Follicular unit extraction: It is the most preferred technique for hair transplant. In this technique, hair follicles are extracted from the donor area with the aid of a specialized extraction instrument. Then these extracted hair follicles are implanted to the recipient area in which small slits are made.