The most obvious and noticeable part of the human hair is the hair on the head, which contributes a lot to a person's good looks and beauty, and so the lack of it, or loss of it is always a source of distress to the person. Hair is an outgrowth that emerges from the follicles of the head and there are as much as 1 lakh follicles on the head. It is from these follicles that hair roots emerge .A single hair grows from one such hair root, and grows longer to a shaft, which is visible. The black color of the hair is due to a pigment called melanin, which is stored in a bulb found in the lower part of the hair follicle. One strand of normal hair looks so thin, yet it is very strong since it is made up of a protein called keratin. The hair that grows once is not permanent. It is shed periodically. There is a growth cycle and so it is normal for everybody to lose up to 50-100 hairs per day, which then are replaced by new ones. Actually at a time, about 10 percent of the hair on the scalp is in a resting phase while the other 90% is in growing stage. The hair in the resting stage falls off, once in every 2-3 months, only to be replaced by new ones. This growing phase lasts for 2 to 6 years and during this phase, each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter per month. If a person loses more hair than its growth and this loss is more than 50- 100 strands per day, the person is said to be suffering from hair loss. The disruption in the normal growth cycle of hair will lead to hair loss.
Hair Loss: Hair loss can be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from sudden stress (caused by illness), certain types of medications (like those given in treatment of gout, arthritis, anticoagulants, and also during chemotherapy for cancer treatment), hormonal imbalances (like hyper or hypothyroidism caused by overactive or under active thyroid gland, or in case of imbalance of sexual hormones like androgens in males and estrogens in females2), poor nutrition, (also causes hair loss as the body is not getting enough proteins or vitamins needed for growth), fungal infection of the scalp( like psoriasis) , male pattern baldness3,( which is an inherited trait is the most common cause of hair loss in men.) Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hairline and baldness on the top of the head. Women may also develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp. Alopecia areata is the development of bald patches on the scalp, beard, and, possibly, eyebrows. Eyelashes may also fall out. This condition is attributed to an immune disorder. Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp) is another reason for hair loss. Finally, hair loss is also due to diseases (like lupus, diabetes).. But sometimes hair loss may occur out of sheer negligence and improper care of hair, even without any of these above mentioned problems. It can occur when lot of pressure is exerted on the scalp (by tying extra tight pigtails), or by excessive chemicals and hot oil --treatment used during perming. Such rough practices damage the hair follicles, which leads to hair loss.
So the underlying problem causing hair loss must be detected and treated accordingly. People experiencing hair loss must seek medical help from a dermatologist, so that the doctor can perform tests and investigate the cause. Blood tests will reveal hormone deficiencies like that of thyroid gland, estrogen or androgens. If a problem is detected, the doctor prescribes the synthetic hormone and thus hair loss can be controlled. In case of male pattern baldness, medicines may help in slowing down or preventing the development of common baldness. The most common one is, minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine), which is available even without a prescription. It has to be applied to the scalp and can be used by both men and women. However, another medicine, finasteride (brand name: Propecia) is available only with a prescription. It comes in the form of pills and can be taken by men only. Alopecia areata if treated early, can be treated with steroids injections like triamcinolone into the area. The other factors causing hair loss can be determined by the doctor by asking the patient a lot of questions to find out about his diet, family history and also his recent condition. . In cases of stress and illness hair loss is often temporary and hair will start growing once the body attains normalcy. In case hair loss is attributed due to a fungus or ringworm infection, antifungal preparations are given. The ultimate desperate measure one can take if no treatment arrests hair loss, is trying out different hairstyles or wigs, hairpieces, hair weaves or artificial hair replacement. This is also called hair transplantation, which has become more common over the years. During a hair transplant, healthy hairs are harvested from an area of the scalp with normal hair growth and then these individual hairs are then placed into areas of hair loss. The transplanted hair looks very natural if the procedure is done with dexterity.