There is a natural process of hair loss which is usually 50-100 hairs per day. This is normal. And part of the body’s natural process of renewal. However, for various reasons including genetics or severe stress we can go through hair loss that requires medical intervention early on to ensure a better management of the condition. Read on to find out more.
In medical terms, hair loss deals with a significant reduction in the number of hairs attached to the scalp. The average person who brushes their hair every day, loses between 50-100 strands per day. These hairs are at their natural shedding stage called ‘telogen’.
§ Female patterned hair loss (FPHL) is a distinct pattern of hair thinning. Approximately 40% of women show signs of FPHL by the age of 50.
§ The cause of FPHL is a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. FPHL is also associated with conditions in which androgens are elevated, such as in polycystic ovarian syndrome.
§ There is often widespread thinning throughout the scalp, particularly the crown. The frontal hairline is often maintained. Hair follicles also reduced in diameter (known as minaturisation), before they are lost.
§ Historically minoxidil and hormonal therapies (eg. spironolactone) have been the mainstay of treating FPHL However, there is evolving evidence for the use of low level light therapy (LLLT), microneedling, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and newer stem cell therapies. In some cases hair follicle transplantation might also be appropriate.
Similarly men also go through significant hair reduction and this is caused by factors such as:
§ Male patterned hair loss (MPHL) is the most common type of hair loss in men, affecting about 50% of men over the age of 50.
§ The cause of MPHL is a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. MPHL is a genetically determined increased sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes scalp hair to become thinner, shorter and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink and stop producing hair.
§ At any time after puberty men can become aware of a receding hairline or hair thinning. The pattern of hair loss in men is from the top and front of the head. The diagnosis is based on history and the clinical examination.
§ Treatments can include minoxidil, hormonal treatments (eg. finasteride), low level light therapy or hair transplantation.
While hair loss is characterized by a significant loss of hair and often permanent, hair thinning, known as telogen effluvium, is a process where hair moves into a rest phase called telogen. This phase is characterised by thinning hair and increased loss of hair: increasing from about 50 hair per day to about 150 per day. There are 5 categories of thinning hair:
Immediate anagen release is when hair leaves the anagen phase prematurely coming into the telogen phase. The effects become visible 2–3 months later with increased telogen effluvium.
Delayed anagen release, is commonly associated with pregnancy. The anagen phase of the hair is prolonged as a result of pregnancy hormones which result in delayed but heavy shedding postpartum.
Short anagen syndrome is characterized by persistent telogen hair shedding, as well as the inability to grow hair long. This is a result of the shortening of the duration of anagen phase with a greater number of hairs in telogen phase. This is the most common cause of thinning hair.
Immediate telogen release generally occurs with drug-induced shortening of telogen leading to the premature reentrance of follicles to anagen, which causes a massive release of telogen hairs.
Delayed telogen release involves a prolonged telogen phase followed by a delayed transition to anagen. This occurs in animals with synchronous hair cycles that shed their hair or winter coats seasonally. This is also sometimes responsible for seasonal hair loss in humans.
So if you’re experiencing reduced hair thickness or quality, the solution lies in understanding the condition through a clinical diagnosis. Then improving the hair’s strength, resistance and overall health to ensure an optimum growth cycle though a prescribed regimen of topical products and diet and lifestyle.