You see them scattered on your after waking up in the morning. They’re stuck in the edges and holes of your bathroom drain after a refreshing shower. They’re falling on the floor as you comb. Hair strands. Everywhere.
Natural hair loss is normal for all humans. An average person is expected to shed about 40 -125 hair strands on any given day. Hair fall usually occurs at the end of the third stage of the hair growth cycle.
Hair: the Three-stage Lifespan
The three phases of the cycle are the anagen, catagen and telogen.
The anagen (growth stage), which persists within 2-7 years, is the period when the hair lengthens at a regular rate of 1 cm per 28 days.
The hair then enters the catagen (transition stage), which lasts for 2-3 weeks.
The telogen (resting phase) is when the hair stops growing and eventually falls out, usually after 2-4 months or so. Finally, replacement hair grows within 6 months.
But what if some hair strands fall before entering the telogen phase? What if replacement hair fails to grow within the expected period? What is to be done in the midst of excessive hair loss?
The Causes of Excessive Hair Loss
Hair loss can occur due to daily habits that actually cause harm, despite their seemingly harmless nature. Such practices that can contribute to potential scarring of the scalp, and eventually permanent hair loss include:
Shampooing and conditioning with substances containing harsh components
Hairstyling (e.g. Using gels, waxes, rollers and curling irons; straightening; coloring and wearing hairstyles like pigtails, braids and cornrows, which tightly pull on the hair)
Treating with hot oil and perming chemicals
All About Aging
Getting older causes the follicles (small cavities located beneath the surface of the head, and from which hair grows) to decrease in size. As a result, shorter and thinner hair strands are produced. By the time a person reaches the age of 30, some if not most of the follicles shrink and ultimately die, decreasing the number of sites for hair growth. It has been observed that follicle shrinkage is more evident in older men than older women.
How are the Hormones?
Men and women have both androgens and estrogens – hormones instrumental in developing and maintaining masculine and feminine characteristics respectively. Hair loss occurs when there is a conspicuous change in the normal amount of either one of the hormones (although mostly with the androgens). Simply put, the more androgen there is in the body, the faster hair falls out. And since men have more androgens than women, baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia) is more prominent in males – hence the male pattern baldness.
Pattern baldness is often indicated by receding hairlines in men, and uniform thinning of hair in women. Testosterone is the type of androgen most associated with pattern baldness. Other hormones affecting hair loss include those produced by the thyroid and pituitary glands and those involved in the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, labor, and nursing stages for women.
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Whether caused by emotions, excessive weight loss, injuries (e.g. burns), infections (e.g. fever, flu, ringworms and fungi), illnesses (i.e. symptoms for leukemia, diabetes, lupus, psychological disorder etc.), major surgeries (i.e. side effects of radiotherapies, chemotherapies etc.) or medications (e.g. steroids, antidepressants, birth controls and other medicines usually for anticoagulants, gout, high blood pressure and heart problems), stress also has its share in inflicting Telogen Effluvium, a kind of hair loss that results from the hastening of the hair growth cycle from the anagen phase to the telogen phase.
In addition, major surgeries and medication can induce Anagen Effluvium, another type of hair loss in which chemicals poison and kill the hair follicles regardless of the hair cycle phase. The good news with this third type of hair loss is that hair may regrow when the surgery or medication is stopped.
Excessive balding may also be prompted by the following:
Improper Diet (e.g. iron deficiency and overdose of vitamin A)
Exposure to Thallium Acetate (i.e. substances containing the chemical can poison and kill the hair follicles)
Alopecia Areata – a type of hair loss in which the body’s own cells and antibodies attack the body itself, in this case the hair follicles, thus creating patches of baldness on the head
- Alopecia Totalis – a more severe form of alopecia areata, in which there is a total loss of scalp hair
Before trying out any of suggestions below, one must be aware that it is highly advisable to consult your doctor so as to avoid the emergence of unexpected complications.
Stuff for the Scalp
Use shampoos and conditioners that are mild to the scalp. Whenever possible, avoid hard scrubbing, blow drying, hairstyling and treating hair with hot oils and chemicals. Excessive brushing is also inadvisable. It should be noted that brushing the hair 100 times for optimum shine is a pure myth and is actually harmful.
Aging, hormonal problems and sudden attack of cells and antibodies are factors that may be assumed as highly uncontrollable. Therefore, in order to counter or even prevent the effects of the three; the following lists several items that may be utilized for scalp treatment.
Aloe Vera – Although still a subject of debate, aloe vera extract contains glycoproteins and polysaccharides that stimulate skin growth. Shampoos and conditioners are often mixed with the said extract for this purpose.
Amaranth – Juice from fresh amaranth leaves were studied to assist in growing and softening hair.
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) – When pieces of this exotic fruit are boiled in coconut oil, the resulting product (most effective when mixed with an equal amount of lime juice) serves as a valuable tonic for enriching hair growth and preventing hair loss.
Coconut Milk – Coconut milk, prepared by squeezing coconut shavings, contains beneficial components and is efficient in promoting hair development and nourishing hair. Shampoos and conditioners are often added with the said milk for the same reason.
Honey – Mixed with egg yolk or with a combination of olive oil and cinnamon powder, honey’s natural components that facilitate in advancing hair growth.
Lime and Black Pepper Seeds – Grinding these ingredients together produces a fine paste that causing a mild irritation upon application, is very effective in stimulating hair development especially on bald portions of the head.
Margosa – The concoction of margosa leaves were found to stop hair fall, increase hair length, enhance the hair’s dark coloration and protect hair from lice and other parasites.
Mustard Oil and Henna Leaves – Regular massaging of the head with mustard oil, boiled with henna leaves, is said to be a very good way for fostering hair growth.
Onion – Pieces of onions can promote scalp health by rubbing them onto the bald portions of the head until reddening becomes evident. Honey is then added to enhance the effect.
Rosemary and Sage – After boiling the leaves and stems and straining the liquid; the final product acts as a practical astringent, cleanses the pores, stimulates the follicles and conditions the entire scalp.
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