Humans have hair growing all over their body except on their palms and soles. At any given time, about ninety percent of hair on the scalp is growing. This is made up of keratin, a protein that produces both hair and nails. The human scalp holds 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair. It is normal to lose 50-100 hairs daily, as they go through phases of the growth cycle — which includes Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. Anagen is the phase where hair grows continuously for two to six years. Catagen is transitional hair growth that lasts two to three weeks. Telogen is the resting phase that lasts for two to three months. At the end of Telogen, hair will fall out of the follicle to make way for a new strand, which starts off the cycle again.
Several factors can trigger unusual hair loss:
Heritability – Dr. Marylin Berzin of DC Derm Docs, a Washington D.C. dermatology clinic, explains that the most common trigger is a genetic condition called ‘Androgenic Alopecia’. While affecting both genders, signs of hair loss can appear in men as early as their teens. The hairline starts to recede and can spread to the crown. Women may not see symptoms until their forties, and will see a general thinning of hair all over the scalp. The most common solution is a hair regrowth product such as Rogaine.
Heat styling – Excessive styling with a dryer and flat iron could adversely affect your hair. Especially combined with chemical-ridden products, such as hair dyes and sprays, this habit could leave long-lasting effects. If possible, allow hair to air dry after your daily morning shower, and use natural products and styling solutions. Allow time for hair to recover between coloring sessions and brush hair often with care.
Hypothyroidism – An underactive thyroid gland can lead to weight gain and loss of hair, among other symptoms. A simple blood test would reveal whether you have the condition. In this case, your physician will be able to prescribe a solution.
Anemia – As with hypothyroidism, an iron deficiency can be diagnosed and treated by your physician. Eating foods such as dark leafy greens, beef and fish, combined with foods rich in vitamin C (which enhances iron absorption), is a natural solution.
Skin conditions – Dandruff, psoriasis, and fungal infections such as ringworm all may lead to temporary hair loss. Most of these can be treated by over-the-counter drugs. However, Dr. Dale Isaacson says “it is best to discuss your concerns with your dermatologist to design the best solution for your skin type and other health conditions” before starting any type of treatment.
To learn about services offered by Drs. Berzin and Isaacson, visit DC Derm Docs.