Sometimes you run your hand through your hair and notice a few strands of hair on your palm. This makes you sad and irritated at the same time.
Everyone experiences hair loss, and there are many reasons leading to it. Aging, stress, unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sufficient nutrients, hormonal changes, etc. are some of the reasons for hair loss.
Let us first see the phases of hair.
There are 3 main phases in hair:
Anagen phase / Growth phase:
At the anagen phase, your hair grows at a rate of one centimeter per month. Hence, it is also known as the growth phase. Anagen can last for 2 to 7 years, depending on your genes.
Catagen phase / Regressing phase:
After the anagen phase, signals within the skin instruct some follicles to enter a new phase known as catagen or the regressing stage. It causes hair follicles to reduce to a fraction of their original length. Catagen lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks and cuts the blood supply to the hair strand, forming a ‘club hair’, meaning it is ready to be shed.
Telogen phase / Resting phase:
Lastly, our hair enters the telogen phase, also known as the resting phase. It lasts for up to 10 to 12 weeks and affects about 5% to 15% of your scalp follicles. During this stage, up to 100 hair strands can be shed in a day, which is quite normal. Then, the growth phase begins again.
It is not necessary that the hair growth will happen. Due to bodily changes, some of them grow increasingly patchy over time, causing male pattern baldness. 95% of baldness in men can be linked to male pattern baldness. Baldness is inherited in this case.
People with this condition have follicles that become incredibly sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) effects, a hormone made from testosterone. DHT causes a reduction in these sensitive follicles, making hair shorter and thinner.
Baldness doesn’t happen suddenly. It happens gradually, on a metric known as the Norwood Scale, which describes the hair loss severity. It begins with hair receding along the temple line. After that, the hair on the crown starts to thin in a circular pattern. At the highest rating on the scale, balding areas meet and expand dramatically, leaving only a ring of little hair around the temples and behind the head.
So what is the reason for baldness?
- Many people believe genes play a role in baldness, but genetics isn’t the only reason for hair loss.
- Long term stress can release signals that shock hair roots and force them into the resting phase prematurely.
- Some women experience excessive hair loss after giving birth to a child.
- Follicles might also lose the ability to go into the anagen phase/growth phase, thus leading to hair loss and eventually baldness.
- People going through chemotherapy treatment temporarily experience hair shedding.
Is baldness Permanent?
Balding might look permanent, but the scientific investigation has revealed the opposite.
It seems that below the skin’s surface, the follicles that give rise to our hair stay alive. Using this knowledge, scientists have developed drugs that reduce the resting phase and force follicles into the anagen phase. Other medications reduce male pattern baldness by blocking the formation of DHT hormone. This would prevent it from affecting sensitive follicles.
Stem cells also play a role in taking care of the growth cycle. So, scientists are investigating whether they can exploit these cells’ activity to help hair roots start producing hair again.
From hormones to genetics to diet, lifestyle and medicines, various factors play a role in hair loss. To reduce your hair loss and save as much of your hair as possible, it is crucial to understand how the factors mentioned above affect you.
A hair transplant has proved to be an effective treatment to cover baldness. It is a surgical procedure where the surgeon transplants your hair from the donor area to the bald area. Due to advancements in the way this surgery has been done, people suffering from baldness get a permanent solution.
You will need to figure out what measures you have to take to keep your hair thick and healthy. If baldness is concerning you, then get in touch with a certified dermatologist. Develop a lifestyle that is healthy, not just for your hair but also for your body.