Hair and hairstyle play an important role in shaping personality. So, it’s not surprising that hair loss leads to worry, whether one spots it while shampooing and blow-drying or during grooming. The more hair you see fall out, the more stressed you get. But take comfort in this fact: it is perfectly normal for a human head to shed anything up to 100 hairs every single day. Only if your fallout exceeds that level, need you look for possible causes and fixes. We’ve looked into it for you and here’s what we discovered.
Causes of hair loss
First, let's look at the life cycle of human hair. There are three stages, starting with developing all the hair follicles in the first place which accounts for the first two to six years of life. After that, over the long run, each hair follicle will shrink, so it works loose in the gland that holds it in place. That leads to the hair slowly but surely getting less nutrition than ideal. You can guess what comes next. Yes, the third stage is all about shedding hair. Each hair follicle grows new hairs that push the old hairs out. It’s a routine process that takes place every day: hence the ball-park 100-hair loss tally.
On the other hand, if your hair loss exceeds that benchmark, it’s time to find the cause and an appropriate solution. The way the medical profession sees it is that hair loss is caused by external factors such as fungal infection of the scalp, long-term hair yanking when grooming, allergies to chemicals in hair products, exposure to extreme heat from sunlight, various hair styling procedures, and other related causes.
There are those who think washing their hair accentuates hair loss. Well, happily there’s no truth in that, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ratthon Panjaprateep, Hair & Scalp Center Head at Chulalongkorn Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society. However, to avoid devoiding your scalp of beneficial natural oils and leaving it too dry, she does recommend washing your hair only every other day, rather than every day. On the other hand, if you have a naturally oily scalp, you can still wash every day – though never more than once a day. Another tip Dr. Ratthon has is to refrain from washing your hair with hot water as it makes the hair dryer and more brittle.
As for internal factors that may cause faster than normal hair loss, there may be a genetic or hormonal dimension. For example, males are more prone to hair loss as they age than women. Females can lose can lose a lot of hair after giving birth. Other causes of hair loss in both sexes include systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) disease. Alopecia areata another common factor in hair loss, reflects a malfunctioning immune system. Further scourges of hairy scalps include infectious diseases such as syphilis along with use of certain drugs, allergy to certain drugs, and deficiencies in nutrients such as iron, protein and vitamin D. Last but not least, psychological issues such as stress and anxiety, including hair pulling disorder which can be a symptom of certain mental health problems, and others, can also cause hair loss.
Types of hair loss
There are two types of hair loss. Non-Scarring Alopecia is caused by the body's immune process that destroys hair follicle cells. This type of hair loss can be cured as the hair follicle cells are not permanently destroyed. However, if left untreated, the condition degenerates into Scarring Alopecia.
With this type of hair loss, the follicle cells are destroyed, causing permanent hair loss. The primary cause is usually diseases involving the skin and mucous membrane including fungal growths on the scalp.
Treatment guidelines and methods to prevent hair loss
The first thing to do when faced with excessive hair loss is to examine the situation and perform various tests in order to isolate the cause. This involves checking the hair and scalp, looking for possible hair loss in other body areas, and blood tests. To get an accurate diagnosis, it’s best to see a doctor at a skin specialist center. Prescribed treatments will depend on the ascertained cause and severity. It could be anything from medication or a special shampoo to kill fungus to injections of steroids, minor surgery, and hair and/or scalp transplants
Zinc helps grow and repair hair. It also increases efficiency of the key sebaceous glands around the hair roots. Zinc is found in sunflower seeds, cocoa, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.
Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, including the scalp. It is found in dark green leafy vegetables, oats, tofu, and other foods.
Biotin, which strengthens keratin, the main compound in hair, is found in bananas, mushrooms, nuts, and others.
So, in short, if you’re worried about losing more than 100 hairs a day, have a medical professional examine your scalp and hair and get a diagnosis of the exact cause so the appropriate course of treatment can be pursued.
As for Krungthai-AXA Life Insurance customers, they also have another option. They can request preventive health and nutrition counseling; a health care service focused on accentuating wellness so as to promote a long and quality life. Skin and hair health consultations are all part of the package. For more information, please visit: www.krungthai-axa.co.th/th/WellnessConsultation
• Bumrungrad Hospital
• Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University
• Bangkok Hospital
• Samitivej Hospital
• BDMS Wellness Clinic
• Phyathai Hospital
• King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, the Thai Red cross Society