About 30% of people have hair loss by age 30 years. The picture is worsen when one reaches the age of 50 – 50% of men and women experience hair loss. This condition is so common that it becomes to be like a norm, like wrinkles on your skin.
Hair loss (or baldness, alopecia) is a partial or complete loss of hair. There are 3 cycles of hair growth–growing, resting, and shedding. Normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 6 years. Each hair growsapproximately 1 centimeter per month during this period, then rests and then falls out. A new hair begins to grow in this place. About 90 % of your hair now is on its growing phase, and accordingly 10 % in its resting phase.
To lose hair each day is normal as it is a part of the ‘hair cycle’, but some men, women and even children experience excessive (more than normal) hair loss.
Men usually loose more hair, and male-pattern baldness is more common case of hair loss in men (this is when the hair is reduced or bald on the top of the head). This trait is usually inherited, sometimes men started to loose their hair at an early age, and as a result experience more extensive baldness.
Women usually experience hair loss in other form – female-pattern baldness – the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp. Women develop hair loss almost as frequently as men do, but they do not normally loose SO much hair as men do (due to the hormonal differences). More than that, a woman herself may not notice her hair loss, or can just hide it with a help of hair styling.
Interesting fact: blacks are four times likely to have abnormal hair loss than whites are. Also Japanese men – less then whites are, and even if becoming bald it develops about 10 years later than in whites.
There are different types of hair loss. Most common type is male-pattern baldness (or androgenic alopecia). The others are traumatic alopecia (this is when the hair loss is being torn out), drug-induced alopecia (caused by medications) and so-called alopecia areata (bald patches that develop on the scalp, beard, and, possibly, eyebrows (and eyelashes) it usually can be reversible).
Hair loss has just few medical complications, more common complication is ‘psychological inferiority complex’ – when one feels inferior and most likely to have negative body image about him- /herself.
Symptoms are pretty obvious for the person. One notices hair loss when looking in a mirror and finds many hairs on ones pillow in the morning or in ones hairbrush or comb. A woman may notice a decrease in the size of her ponytail.
Baldness is usually related to aging, heredity, and testosterone and not caused by a disease. But some cases of baldness (especially if in an unusual pattern) may be caused by other conditions and states.
Common causes of hair loss are following:
- Male pattern baldness
- Medications (for example Allopurinol (Zyloprim) and Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Trauma (for example burns)
- Poor nutrition
- Stress (emotional or physical, as during a major illness) and nervous habits such as scalp rubbing or hair pulling
- Improper hair care – 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. Blow-drying and heated brushes can worsen hair loss – extreme heat damages the proteins in the hairs, making them fragile, brushing the hair during blow-drying causes more damage
- Scarring – it can cause permanent hair loss
Uncommon causes of hair loss:
- Poor blood flow
- Cancers (chemotherapy)
- Hormone problems (for example childbirth, birth control pills, thyroid disease)
- Kidney or liver failure
- Skin diseases such as lupus (and other autoimmune conditions)
- Infections such as syphilis (or fungal infections of the scalp that can cause hair loss in children)
- Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp)
- Tumor of the ovary or adrenal glands
More interesting fact: If you are bald (especially at the crown of the head) you are more likely to have a heart attack. In 1999, doctors at Harvard Medical School found that men who had lost hair at the top of the head had a 32% increased chance of coronary heart disease. So you would better stop smoking, eat healthily and do some exercise if you are bald at the top of your head (as well as if you are not).
For treating baldness medicals and surgery are used.
Two medications can be used for hair loss treatment:
- Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) – the pill that is used in hair loss treating in men. If taken once a day it blocks the effects of testosterone on hair growth.
- Minoxidil (Loniten, Rogaine). This medication rubbed directly on your scalp enlarges hairs and makes the growing phase be longer. It helps both women and men and especially good for the top and back of the head (less effective for the front area of the scalp). But the grown hair may fall out again if you stop using the medication.
Surgery is rather good, effective and long lasting treatment of baldness. There are two kinds of surgeries:
- Hair transplant – during this surgery the doctor takes plugs of hair from areas on your scalp where hair is thick and puts them on areas where your hair is thin (if the appearance of these plugs don’t bother you – this method is for you)
- Scalp rotation – a doctor moves a piece of your scalp that has good hair growth to an area of poor growth. This method is not very effective to adults, but is very good in children.
Before choosing the medicals (or other methods) your doctor would probably ask about your diet, recent illnesses, taking other medicals; if you are a woman – about your periods, pregnancies, etc.
Lots of herbs can help you ‘to have your hair on its place’ when others get bald. From Fleece flower root an excellent herbal blood tonic can be made. It helps to maintain healthy hair and darken gray hair.
The leaves of Chinese date are appeared to promote the growth of hair. As is rich in vitamin E it nourishes the blood (especially in combination with Chinese angelica root, prepared rehmannia root and other herbs).
Wild jujube leaf and Oriental arborvitae seed are astringent and febrifuge – promote hair growth.
Biota leaf can be used externally for the treatment of alopecia and scalds.
Drynaria rhizome together with wild rose branches decoction is good in cases of loosing the hair after illnesses.
A fungal scalp infection with a crusting and scaly lesion of the scalp that can also be associated with localised hair loss is treated by Genkwa. It can also help in case of head sores and intractable tinea.
Eclipta is not only a rejuvenative and liver tonic, but a wonderful remedy for the hair. Especially in combination with glossy privet fruit in the form of oil (that is used externally) it is used in herbal treating of hair loss (besides wounds, eczema and dermatitis).
Dahurian angelica and Chuanxiong enhance the quality of activating blood circulation and dispelling wind (that refers to action, accounting for the loss of hair)
Mulberry mistletoe strengthens hair, promotes the growth of eyebrows and beards. And Mulberry leaf has been used to promote hair growth.
Psoralea fruit is also used in the treatment of hair loss (externally).
Good attitude to your hair and your entire health would also help in slowing down the process of your natural loss of hair. Foods also play the important role in the treatment (as well as in preventing the condition). Black soybeans promote blood circulation; black sesame seed contains nutrients that are required for healthy hair such as polyunsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, protein, lecithin and others. Fresh ginger pieces and onion juice rubbed into the skin of your hair promote the growth of hair and is a wonderful remedy for baldness (though it really awfully stinks!). Watercress is an effective hair tonic; it promotes the growth of thick hair. As well as olive oil (mixed with alcohol). Coconut and parsley leaves are a good remedy for hair loss. Royal jelly seems to maintain and enhance hair (and nails also) and seaweed promotes the growth of glossy hair and prevent its loss (but mind the sodium content).
To prevent hair loss you should start as early as you can. But if you loose your hair try to accept this as a matter of getting older, thus wiser:)