HAIR LOSS OVERVIEW
Hair loss is the loss of hair from any part of the body. Normally we do loose a certain amount of hair each day (between 30 - 60 hair a day), however sometimes, under certain physiological or deficient nutritional conditions, there is an increase in the amount of hair falling out. This could also be accompanied by other related symptoms such as early graying or other totally unrelated symptoms.
Hair loss statistics
Hair loss affects about 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone. 40% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35 and 65% by age 60.
Hair loss comes about due to various reasons. Some of these include:
- Heredity factors
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Illness and infectious diseases
- Stress and anxiety
- Toxic / heavy metal poisoning
- Chemotherapy and radiation
- Gout medications
- Arthritis medications
- High-dose Vitamin A
- Insufficient Kidney energy/essence (according traditional Chinese medicine) – which can also cause premature graying of hair.
WHAT IS ALOPECIA?
Alopecia areata is loss of hair on the body. It is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, the tiny cup-shaped structures from which hairs grow. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.
In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. In many cases, the disease does not extend beyond a few bare patches. In some people, hair loss is more extensive. Although uncommon, the disease can progress to cause total loss of hair on the head (referred to as alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).
Alopecia can be scarring (irreversible) and non- scarring (reversible).
Alopecia (scarring) is limited to particular areas and involves inflammation at the edge and follicle loss toward the center of lesions, violet-colored skin abnormalities, and scaling. Causes include: skin disorders, diseases, or bacterial infections.
Alopecia (none scarring) involves hair loss all over or in circular areas, receding hairline, broken hairs, smooth scalp, inflammation, and possibly loss of lashes, eyebrows, or pubic hair. Causes include: skin disorders, certain drugs, certain diseases, autoimmunity, iron deficiency, severe stress, scalp radiation, pregnancy, or pulling at your own hair. In order to understand hair loss, it is important to understand how hair grows.
THE THREE STAGES OF THE HAIR CYCLE
- Growing stage or Anagen
This stage lasts from two to five years. At any one time about 90% of the hair follicles are in this stage. During this stage certain cells at the base of the follicle in an area called the matrix produce the tough protein keratin of which the hair is composed. When these cells (the keratinocytes) are working properly, they produce a hair thick in diameter. This is called a terminal hair. But when these cells are not working at their full capacity they produce a hair thin in diameter. This is called a vellus hair. It's the kind of peach fuzz you see on the scalps of men who are going bald. When the follicles spend less than the normal amount of time in the growing stage because of the influence of DHT, they tend to produce vellus hair.
- Transitional stage or Catagen phase
This stage lasts just a week or two. At any one time only 1 – 2% of the hair follicles are in this stage. During this stage there is a rapid wrinkling and contraction of the lower part of the follicle. Keratin production ceases during this stage.
- Resting stage or Telogen
This stage lasts between three and five months. At any one time about 10% of the hair follicles are in this stage. During this stage the old telogen hairs just rest in the now fully contracted follicle bulbs. Late in this stage these old hairs gradually start to fall out so it is not unusual for a man or a woman to lose between thirty and fifty of these hairs daily. But with healthy hair follicles, new anagen hairs replace these old telogen hairs in the next growing stage of the hair cycle.