Alopecia / hair fall refers to loss of hair. Hairfall may be in small patches or in severe cases larger patches may also be seen. Scalp is almost always involved but loss of hair may be seen from other body parts also.
MALE- AND FEMALE-PATTERN BALDNESS
- Male-pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting around half of all men by the age of 50.
- It usually starts around the late 20s or early 30s, and most men have some degree of hair loss by their late 30s.It generally follows a pattern of a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples, leaving a horseshoe shape around the back and sides of the head.
- Sometimes it can progress to complete baldness, although this is uncommon.
- Male-pattern baldness is hereditary, which means it runs in families. It's thought to be caused by oversensitive hair follicles, linked to having too much of a certain male hormone.
- As well as affecting men, it can sometimes affect women (female-pattern baldness). In female-pattern baldness, hair usually only thins on top of the head.
- It's not clear if female-pattern baldness is hereditary, and the causes are less well understood.
- But it tends to be more noticeable in women who have been through the menopause (when a woman's periods stop at around age 52), perhaps because they have fewer female hormones.
TYPES OF ALOPECIA
Alopecia Areata- It is an autoimmune condition in which the hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by the immune system causing patchy hair loss. The follicles become smaller and stop producing hair, leading to hair loss the patch may be single bald patch or there may be extensive patchy hair loss also.
Cause– exact cause of alopecia areata is not known but the condition is often associated with other autoimmune disorders like hypothyroidism, vitiligo etc or there may be family history of autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc.
Alopecia Totalis- It is an advanced form of alopecia in which there is severe loss of hair or total loss of hair from the scalp and there may be complete baldness also.
Cause- Cause of alopecia totalis is also autoimmune in which the hair follicles are attacked by immunity cells but the condition is much more severe as compared to alopecia areata and the immune system attack of hair follicle is severe enough to cause complete baldness sometimes.
Alopecia Universalis- In this condition there is severe loss of hair from all body parts including eyelashes and eyebrows.
Cause- Cause is autoimmune in which hair follicles of whole of the body may be attacked including the eyelashes and eyebrows causing loss of hair from those areas also.
Alopecia Barbae- In this condition the loss of hair is localized to the beard area only and there can be a single bald patch or more extensive hair loss across whole of the beard area. Thus this condition is localized alopecia areata.
Cause- The main cause is autoimmune attack on the hair follicles of the beard. T lymphocytes are said to be the cause of this condition. The lymphocytes start entering the hair follicles in the beard area and start disturbing the normal hair growth rapidly and destroys the hair follicle which weakens the root and hair falls out sporadically.
Androgenetic Alopecia- it is the most common type of progressive hair loss and is hereditary in form. In this type of hair loss there is progressive thinning of hair and this type of hair loss is seen in both the sexes. This is also known as male pattern or female pattern hair loss.
Cause- In men below normal levels of hormones like sex hormone binding globulin, follicle stimulating hormone, testosterone, epitestosterone.
Androgens regulate sebaceous glands, apocrine hair growth, libido and with increasing age may stimulate facial hair growth and suppress scalp hair growth.
There may be genetic cause also
Scarring/ Cicatricial Alopecia- In this type there is permanent hair loss.
Cause- There is inflammation of upper part of hair follicle where the stem cells and sebaceous glands are located and once these are destroyed; there is no possibility of regeneration of hair follicle which results in permanent hair loss.
Traction Alopecia- In this type of alopecia there is hair loss due to extensive pulling or tension on hair-shafts and if traction or pulling is prolonged, it can stop development of new hair follicle and lead to permanent hair loss.
Cause- Cause of traction alopecia is mechanical and hair are commonly pulled out from the follicles due to particular hairstyle which tenses the hair shaft.
Anagen Effluvium- in this type hair fall is due to chemicals and is usually a side-effect of some disease treatment e.g. cancer treatment in which there is loss of hair due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy but hair grow back normally once the treatment is stopped.
Cause- there is temporary loss of hair during medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy which is soon recovered as the therapy is stopped.
Telogen Effluvium- It is a scalp disorder in which there is early entry of hair in telogen phase which is the resting phase of hair follicle. In this type there is loss of hair more than normal amounts along with general thinning of hair but the loss of hair is temporary and there is abrupt recovery in such loss of hair.
Cause- emotional or psychological stress, eating disorder, childbirth, crash diet, drugs, hypothyroidism, chronic illness, anaemia
major surgery are amongst the common cause of this type of hair loss.
SYMPTOMS & CAUSES
- Loss of hair in small or larger patches is seen usually on the scalp.
- In some cases loss of hair from other body parts may also be seen.
Causes of alopecia depends on the type of alopecia and usually include autoimmune cause.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Loss of hair in patches along with suitable medical history and physical examination diagnose the case.
- Counsel the patient about the prognosis of his type of hair loss.
- Proper nutritious diet will also help.
- Ask patient to maintain hygiene and cleanliness of the hair.
- Ask patient to avoid traction of hair by pulling or tying up tightly.
- Homeopathic medicines.
Homoeopathy has Wonderful results in treatment of hair fall. Though androgenetic hair fall has bad prognosis and best possible treatment available for this type is to prevent further loss of hair and regrowth of hair is not possible.
But apart from androgenetic hair fall where we can just help the patient to prevent the further hair loss, other types of hair fall can be treated well and regrowth of hair can be seen.
Medicines useful in treatment of hair fall are-Sulphur, graphites, natrum mur, tuberculinum, psorinum, lycopodium, calcarea carb, sepia, pulsatilla etc.
Medicines in homoeopathy are chosen after thorough case taking of the patient that is only after knowing the constitution and exact cause of the hair fall.
Maintaining cause of the problem should also be removed for better treatment of the problem. Patient using any sort of chemical should be advised to leave it, those under any sort of treatment are counseled about the cause and about the chances and time period for regrowth of hair.
Those who are having hair issues due to the type of hair style they adopt are advised to have hair dos which keep hair loose and require no pulling or traction.
Those with autoimmune cause are treated for the same.
DO’s AND DON’Ts
- Take healthy nutritious diet.
- Clean hair properly.
- Maintain moisture of hair.
- Do meditation to cope up with stress.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to sun.
- Avoid exposure to pollution.
- Avoid pulling or traction of hair.