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What causes hair loss or baldness?

What is the normal cycle of hair growth and loss?

At any one time, about 10 percent of the hair on your scalp is in a resting phase. After 2 to 3 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place. This growing phase lasts for 2 to 6 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimetre per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is growing at any one time. It is normal to shed some hair each day as part of this cycle. However, some people may experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss. ?Hair loss of this type ?can affect men, women and children. top

 

What causes excessive hair loss?

A number of things can cause excessive hair loss. For example, about 3 or 4 months after an illness or a major surgery, you may suddenly lose a large amount of hair. This hair loss is related to the stress of the illness and is temporary. ?

Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. If your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, your hair may fall out. This hair loss usually can be helped by treatment of the thyroid disease. Hair loss may occur if male or female hormones, known as androgens and estrogens, are out of balance. Correcting the hormone imbalance may ?stop your hair loss.

Many women notice hair loss about 3 months after they've had a baby. This loss is also related to hormones. During pregnancy, high levels of certain hormones cause the body to keep hair that ?would normally fall out. When the hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, that hair falls out and the normal cycle of growth and loss starts again. ?

Some medicines can cause hair loss. This type of hair loss improves when you stop taking the medicine. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (also called anticoagulants), medicines used for gout, medicines used in chemotherapy to treat cancer, vitamin A (if too much is taken), birth control pills and antidepressants.

Certain infections can cause hair loss. ? Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in children. The infection is easily treated with antifungal medicines.

Finally, hair loss may occur as part of an underlying disease, such as lupus or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early sign of a disease, it is important to find the cause so that it can be treated. top

 

Can improper care of my hair cause hair loss?

Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia (say: "al-oh-pee-sha"). If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called "perms") ?may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss. top

 

What is common baldness or common hair loss?

The term "common baldness" usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head. Women may develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp. top

 

Can my doctor do something to stop hair loss?

Perhaps. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your diet, any medicines you're taking, whether you've had a recent illness and how you take care of your hair. If you're a woman, your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual cycle, pregnancies and menopause. Your doctor may want to do a physical exam to look for other causes of hair loss. Finally, blood tests or a biopsy (taking a small sample of cells to examine under a microscope) of your scalp may be needed. top

 

Is there any treatment for hair loss?

Depending on your type of hair loss, treatments are available. If a medicine is causing your hair loss, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Recognizing and treating an infection may help stop the hair loss. Correcting a hormone imbalance may prevent further hair loss.

Medicines may help slow or prevent the development of common baldness. One medicine, Minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), is available without a prescription. It is applied to the scalp. Both men and women can use it. Another medicine, finasteride (brand name: Propecia) is available with a prescription. It comes in pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6 months before you can tell if ?one of these ?medicines is working. It also may have other side effects and was not originally designed for hair loss.

The latest form of hair loss treatment is Low Level Laser Therapy or LLLT. ? This form of treatment is traditionally expensive and was only available at specialist clinics. ? Now with advanced in technology home LLLT hair loss therapy laser devices are available for home treatment. ? Please see our home hair loss laser products here.

 

Common drugs that can cause hair loss

While male- and female-pattern baldness result in permanent hair loss, other factors can cause temporary loss of hair. For instance, the drop in the level of estrogen at the end of pregnancy can cause a woman's hair to shed more readily. Two or three months after a woman stops taking birth control pills, she may experience the same effect, since birth control pills produce hormone changes that mimic pregnancy.

It is well known that many cancer chemotherapy medications cause baldness. Most people are willing to put up with hair loss when accepting treatments for life-threatening diseases. But a large number of popular medications can cause hair loss while neither pharmaceutical industry nor your doctor will tell you about this side effect.

Here we compile a list of drugs that are know to cause hair loss in some patients:

 

  • Cholesterol-lowering drug: clofibrate (Atromis-S) and gemfibrozil (Lopid)
  • Parkinson Medications: levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa)
  • Ulcer drugs: cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Anticoagulents: Coumarin and Heparin
  • Agents for gout: Allopurinol (Loporin, Zyloprim)
  • Antiarthritics: penicillamine, auranofin (Ridaura), indomethacin (i\Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn), sulindac (Clinoril), and methotrexate (Folex)
  • Drugs derived from vitamin-A: isotretinoin (Accutane) and etretinate (Tegison)
  • Anticonvulsants for epilepsy: trimethadione (Tridione)
  • Antidepressants: tricyclics, amphetamines
  • Beta blocker drugs for high blood pressure: atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal) and timolol (Blocadren)
  • Antithyroid agents: carbimazole, Iodine, thiocyanate, thiouracil
  • Others: Blood thinners, male hormones (anabolic steroids)


Next time your doctor prescribes any drug for you, ask if it will cause hair loss. You doctor may not realize this side effect. You can ask him or her to look it up in the Physicians' Desk Reference, which lists the side effects of all prescription medications. If the drug is linked to reversible alopecia, ask if another can be substituted. And just to make sure your physician has given you accurate information, when you get the prescription filled, ask your pharmacist as well.

DHT & Androgens: DHT is a naturally occurring hormone, which assists with sexual development during your foetal days, and during puberty. DHT actually existed in the body even while we had full heads of hair. The problem arises when genetic switches cause changes in the follicles and men's overall biology.

In follicles, there exists DHT and structures called "Androgen Receptors". In healthy hair follicles, these two substances combine to carry out normal processes and regulate normal hair growth. DHT is created as a result of another combination of Testosterone and something called 5-alpha-reductase. In summary, we have two combinations going on in the normal, non-balding man:

  • Testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase Enzyme combine to form DHT

  • DHT and Androgen Receptors combine to carry out the creation of normal proteins in follicles, which regulate the health, growth, and resting cycles of a follicle.

As men start to age, these two processes change. After puberty, Testosterone typically increases in the overall blood supply of most males. Consequently, the binding of Testosterone and 5-Alpha increases, causing more DHT to be produced (1). This of course results in an increase in binding between DHT and the Androgen Receptors (2). The increased binding then causes an imbalance in the biology and processes of the follicle. Overabundance of this activity directly affects the growth regulating that goes on in the follicle, which results in slower and less healthy growth each time the hair grows, rests, and regrows again. When DHT and the Androgen receptors were in normal abundance, binding at normal rates, hair growth regulation was also normal. Hair grew and fell as it should have. The overabundance however, throws the whole process off kilter.

The degradation process of the follicle is typically very slow, and takes many years, but the result is very apparent on the scalp to the hair loss sufferer. As hair continues through its growth and resting phases, each time a new hair grows from a DHT swamped follicle, it comes back thinner and shorter than it did the last time. Over several years, its growth degrades so much that it can no longer be seen. Thus is Androgenetic Alopecia - aka Male Pattern Baldness.

In order to stop hair loss in any way, you must be able to in some fashion alter the processes identified above, or usurp them by stimulating growth *despite* the effects of DHT. Treatments claiming to "wash" dirt out, increase circulation, or reduce sebum are quite simply, rubbish.

Inflammation: The process described above initiates what is called an autoimmune response. To put it in layman's terms, follicles experiencing the above process are suddenly considered foreign objects in the body, and the degradation is a direct result of the body rejecting them from the system. This is really what Male Pattern Baldness is all about.

One of the biggest telltale signs of the autoimmune response is tingling, itching, redness, and inflammation of the scalp. Not all men losing hair experience this, but a vast majority do. Inflammation is considered one of the other major factors which exacerbate the hair loss process. This is why in addition to DHT inhibitors, SOD's, and Growth Stimulants, it is imperative that you include an approved scalp conditioner which actively eliminates the itching, inflammation, and flaking. The absolute best product for this on the market today is Nizoral shampoo. It should be included in ANY hair loss treatment regimen, and as a shampoo, it is easy to use.

You now know the causes of hair loss in Androgenetic Alopecia (MPB). You may also have noticed mention of treatments. Your next step is to evaluate the type of hair loss you have, and then the appropriate treatment for it. As you see above, there are only 5 types of treatments which truly work: DHT Inhibitors, Growth Stimulants, SOD's, Anti-inflammatories, and Antiandrogens.

 

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psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin disease that causes raised red skin with thick silvery scales.

vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on the body

hair loss

Hair loss usually develops gradually and may be patchy or diffuse

acne

Acne is a disorder of the hair follicles and sebaceous oil glands that leads to skin infections

dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin, often a rash, swelling, pain, itching, cracking. Can be caused by an irritant or allergen

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