(Last Updated on : 25/03/2009)
Hair loss, hair fall and additional damage and dandruff are one of the most irritating and annoying disorders that can even make a person depressed and dispirited at times. As one gradually leaves the teenage years behind and passes into the 20s, one realises and distinguishes and that hair fall is an adversity that affects everybody, although in varying degrees of severity. To distinguish normal hair fall from abnormal hair loss, one must first comprehend the hair cycle, which further can only introduce one into the causes of hair fall. Each strand of the scalp goes through a growing phase termed as `anagen`, lasting approximately 1000 days, a transitional phase termed as `catagen`, lasting 10 days (the hair stops growing during catagen) and the final resting phase referred to as `telogen`, which lasts 100 days - the hair then falls out of the follicle to be replaced by a new strand of hair, which will go through the same three phases.
There are approximately 1,00,000 hairs on the average scalp on any given day and thus it is believed that upto 100 hair strands dying and falling out each day is normal. Most people, however, are of the opinion that they should not be losing even a single strand, which is obviously inconceivable and impractical. Hair, going by its life cycle, will grow and periodically fall out again - normal hair loss should not be stressed over, as the 100 strands that fall out are replaced by new ones produced by the scalp. Specific conditions however, are known to increase this loss dramatically and require urgent treatment and proper prevention.
Based on this mentioned element, causes of hair fall are also mostly deliberated upon negative aspects like
Stress is looked at as the biggest culprit, implicated in both generalised (all over scalp) and patchy (in sections, like Alopecia Areata) hair loss.
Piteous nutrition comes as a close second, with `crash dieting` often blamed to cause hair loss and fall. Young adolescents starving themselves to look like their admiring star personality, often pay for it with severe hair loss after six to eight weeks.
A number of things can cause excessive hair fall. For instance, around 3 or 4 months after a sickness or a crucial surgery, one stands a chance to abruptly lose a large amount of hair. This cause of hair loss is associated with the tremendous stress of the illness and is rather transient. Hormonal problems are also viewed as commanding causes of hair loss. If one`s thyroid gland is overactive or under active in every cases, the thickness of hair can turn into a receding hairline. Numerous women notice hair loss about three months after they have experienced the stage of pregnancy and delivery. Certain and particular medicines can cause hair fall, just as in birth control pills and antidepressants. This type of hair fall however signals signs of improvement, when one ceases to consume the medicine. Children may suffer from hair loss caused by a fungal contamination and infection of the scalp. Stress to a large extent turns up as a cause of hair fall in the long run. A sudden change of city and relocation causes incontrollable hair loss due to the change in water, most often from soft to hard water, containing large amounts of iron.
The expression "common baldness" usually means male-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair fall in men, in a panoptic format. Men who are possessed with this type of hair loss, commonly are recognised to have earned this characteristic attribute in a hereditary process. Men who begin to loose their hair at an early stage of growing up, are mostly inclined to develop more extensive baldness. In the male-pattern baldness, hair loss characteristically ensues in a retreating and withdrawing hairline and baldness on the top of the head.
Natural hair fall in a man, or male pattern baldness, as it is normally referred to, is basically caused due to male hormones, (known as androgens in a combined manner). The most pertinent of these hormones with regards to hair loss is called testosterone. In the case of a man who has inherited the obligatory and crucial genes for hair loss, a little of this testosterone is formed by some of the hair roots into a derivative referred to as Dihydrotestosterone. It is this Dihydrotestosterone that is actually responsible for and is also one of the determining causes of hair fall.
As a providing instance, when anyone cleanses the hair, there always can be witnessed a few remaining hairs left in the basin/floor of the bathroom afterwards. This does not necessarily entail that the person is thinning in the mane. All that is going on is that some of the hair roots are shedding their old hairs and, in time, these are sure to be replaced. The new hairs are assuredly as strong as the previous hairs were. The small white bobble on the end of the hair is not the hair root, it is in fact, shaped from collapsed cells from within the hair root and is named as the club. If it were achievable and feasible for a hair to be pulled from the scalp bringing a hair root with it, then the scalp would actually bleed.
If dihydrotestosterone has been secreted, it will be present in the surface sebum (grease), which is released by each human from the sebum glands present through their skin tissue. Under such contexts when a hair is shed, the dihydrotestosterone will enter the follicle (the hole in the scalp from which the hair has come) and while inside there, it reacts in a clever chemical manner. What it actually performs is to `miniaturise` the hair root and follicle. This implies that the new hair growing through will be finer in texture and quality. When this new fine hair is later shed, the Dihydrotestosterone again miniaturises the follicle and hair root even further and thus the next hair will be finer still. This almost cyclic chain will continue until the hair is so fine that it may as well not be there at all and if this happens over a specific area, then the scalp will obviously thin over that area and hence baldness occurs. Causes of hair fall amount to even larger and dire conditions, which are actually sometimes apparent to the layman. An elementary cause of hair fall can be detected when one can normally tell when a person is thinning on the front hairline by feeling the thickness of the hair and comparing it with the hair at the back of the head.
It is also ascertained after researches and experiment that 99 per cent of all causes of hair fall and loss in men and women is caused by one thing - excessive oil. This oil, termed as sebum, clogs up the pores of the scalp and smothers follicle growth. With time, the hair root is as if asphyxiated, making it impossible for new hair to grow. The follicles on top of a man`s head grow straight upwards; subsequently, when oil is released from the scalp, it has no place to travel by itself. On a woman`s head, it can slip down the hair shaft towards the tip; in case of a man, it can only slide back to where it came from - the scalp. Thus, if the scalp is not cleansed in a healthy manner, this oil turns into wax, thus clogging the pores. When a hair is shed, its subsequent cannot grow out to further advancement and boosting. The hair, as a result, becomes weak and literally goes to "sleep" under the scalp. The few hairs that manage to push through that waxy barrier are so frail and undersized that they are ready to fall out as soon as they break through. Such are the circumstances leading to male pattern baldness, another path-defining cause of hair fall.
In this context of causes of hair fall and its alarming consequences, it can be stated that baldness occurs not through heredity, nor as a result of the outcomes of testosterone on the hair follicles in the `target zone`. Rather, it is caused because of poor blood flow to the scalp, tremendous lack of sufficient nutrients in the blood and poor drainage of waste products through the lymphatic systems. Men turn bald because the hair is forestalled from growing by being blockaded at the hair growth centre - the hair follicle. The cause of this blockage and hair fall is the accumulation of dihydrotestosterone in the scalp, which some men are prone to. This is basically looked at as the negative effectors, not as is frequently thought testosterone. This accumulation of dihydrotestosterone may be the major reason for excessive hair loss, together with one or more other minor factors.
A co-habitation of three factors brings about, especially in men, a typical hair deficiency in the area of the temples, a bald crown mid-head or forehead area or a general thinning of these areas.
The three important factors causing this kind of hair fall and additional development are as follows
General inclination with a transmitted dominant tendency for male pattern baldness; female members of a family can act as transmitters as well.
Male hormones (androgen-testosterone) are patronising male pattern baldness by means of increased production and a resultant increase of androgens in the blood stream thus increasing baldness.
As the period for hair fall essentially is between the 20th and 50th years of age, there lies no danger of male pattern baldness prior to puberty.
Other factors such as mechanical irritation (washing, combing of hair, wearing a helmet, etc.) stress, lack of vitamins or minerals or unwarranted influences of the weather though are not regarded as causes of hair fall, have the capability to trigger male pattern baldness.
Through the already-described genetic disposition, the hair growing Enzyme 5-Reductase blocks the forehead, the mid head and crown area; only the donor areas at the back and on the sides of the head are not badly struck. As scientists so far have not managed to influence and dominate the three factors above and have not managed to arrest hair loss either, not to state growth of new hair, research tried to bring to the forefront an endeavour to activate the Enzyme 5-Reductase against the generic determination. As has been mentioned before, there exists umpteen and varying explanations given for the cause of hair loss. Each clinic, consultant and even doctors always have provided dissimilar and highly unlikely explanations for the cause of hair fall and baldness. The marketing strategy demands that every individual tries to convince and talk one into saying that their products are the best ones in the market.
There are some drugs which further adds to the list of the causes of hair fall. However, the foremost cause of hair fall can be attributed to inadequate nutrition; hence even a partial lack of almost any nutrient may cause hair to fall. Individuals lacking in vitamin B lose their hair and those deficient in folic acid often go completely bald. Stress, such as worry, anxiety and sudden shock, are another commanding and crucial cause of falling of hair, since it is stress that leads to a severe tension in the skin of the scalp. This adversely affects the supply of essential nutrition required for the healthy growth of the hair. General debility, caused by severe or long-standing ailments like typhoid, syphilis, chronic cold, influenza and anaemia, also gives rise to this disorder. Such acute illnesses make the roots of the hair turn weak, resulting in the falling of hair. Unclean condition of the scalp can also cause loss of hair. It weakens the hair roots by blocking the pores with the collected dirt and grime. Heredity is another predisposing and finalising crucial factor, which may cause hair fall.