Self-image is closely related to physical appearance, and that is one reason why many people begin to panic when they realize that their hair is beginning to thin out. The loss of your hair is never a positive occurrence, and it can be the result of several different events.
How Does Your Hair Grow
Humans are born with approximately one million hair follicles on their heads. Approximately 100,000 of these follicles are found on the human scalp. Technically, hair is made up of two distinctive components – the hair follicle and the shaft.
The part that you can see is the shaft, which is actually composed of dead protein (keratin). The shaft is composed of three components: the cuticle, cortex, and medulla. Pigment cells within the medulla and cortex give your hair its color.
The hair follicles are contained within the scalp. They produce your hair growth, maintaining a full head of hair when the follicles are perfectly healthy. Once the follicle is damaged or shrinks to a certain size, it can no longer produce new hair growth.
A single hair generally grows at approximately one half of an inch per month. It generally does not fall out for at least two years, and it may remain on the scalp for as long as six years. Once it does so, a new hair usually takes its place and begins the growing cycle over again.
What Causes Thinning Hair
Thinning hair is most commonly caused by genetic factors, the natural aging process, medication, bad health, poor diet, and stress. While some of these factors are avoidable, obviously, others are not. Most people lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair each day, so there’s no cause for alarm until that number increases.
The most common form of hair loss is pattern baldness...
The medical term used to refer to baldness is alopecia. The most common form of hair loss is pattern baldness (androgenetic), and it occurs in women and in men. This type of hair loss is considered to be genetic in nature. When pattern baldness occurs, a hormone known as DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) prevents hair follicles from receiving vital nutrients, causing them to thin and produce fine hair. Eventually, the follicle thins so much that it can no longer produce hair.
Medical issues such as hormonal and thyroid problems can lead to the thinning of the hair. A medical condition that leads to chronic imbalance of the hormones and hair loss is polycystic ovary syndrome. However, once treatment for these issues takes place, the normal growth cycle of the hair should begin anew.
Chemo and radiation treatments can lead temporary damage of hair follicles. Once the treatments are discontinued, the hair generally begins to grow back in.
Ringworm, a skin condition, can affect the scalp. When it does so, hair loss can occur in patches. Ringworm is treatable with an antifungal medication.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy actually trigger the opposite of hair loss. Pregnant women may experience less hair loss during this time, leading to a greater hair loss once the hormones go back to their pre-pregnancy state. This temporary loss of hair should not be viewed as abnormal thinning.
Medications that have been linked to hair loss include: birth control pills, anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, blood thinners, and heart disease medication.
The natural aging process typically brings with it hormonal fluctuations during menopause for women. As a result, hair growth thins out, typically all over the scalp. Women rarely experience a receding hairline.
Poor diet can lead to the loss of essential nutrients and minerals needed for strong hair growth.
High levels of stress can lead to sudden hair loss that can last for months. Trauma associated with extreme emotional upset, serious illnesses, major surgeries, and trauma involving blood loss can all lead to temporary hair loss.
Poor diet can lead to the loss of essential nutrients and minerals needed for strong hair growth. Diets that are low in protein or that include excessive amounts of vitamin A can lead to the thinning of hair. This can easily be reversed simply by incorporating dietary changes into your lifestyle.
Treatments for Thinning Hair
Although science has not yet created a cure for baldness, there are several solutions that can help to prevent your hair loss from increasing. Perhaps the most commonly known solution is a topical lotion, Minoxidil. It has been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. While this ingredient is known to work well while it is being used, it is a temporary solution for most people that must be continued in order to prevent the hair from falling out once again. Minoxidil is available in varying concentrations of 2%, 4%, and 5%.
Oral supplements are available to treat hair loss under the intention of supplying essential nutrients to promote hair growth and nourish thinning hair. Many of these supplements contain an abundance of vitamins, including vitamin A, E, B6, and Niacin. Additional ingredients that are thought to encourage the natural hair growth cycle include Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Biotin, Marine Cartilage, and DHT Blockers.
Biotin is also referred to as vitamin H, but it is part of the vitamin B complex and known to help in the metabolic action of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. DHT Blockers prevent the production of Dihydrotestosterone, deterring continued hair loss.
There are also various shampoos, conditioners and scalp treatments for thinning hair which are gentler than Minixidil and pose less risk of irritation. Certain scalp treatments are of natural origin and help to stimulate increased circulation in addition to nourishing the hair follicles.
Laser devices have also shown promise in promoting hair growth and reducing early fallout. These devices can be purchased for home use and require several sessions per week.