Hair is an important component of our personal identities. Its care is a cornerstone of our daily routine. It stimulates most of the senses. For many, it is a canvas of self expression. That’s why hair loss can be such an emotional issue.
One thing to remember is that we all lose hair. Just because your brush is full of lost strands doesn’t mean that you have a problem. In humans, “normal” hair loss refers to the loss of up to one hundred hairs per day. Considering that the average person has about 100,000 hairs, normal hair loss barely makes an impression.
Most likely, you’re not keeping count of the hairs you lose, but if you start to see extra hair on your clothes, pillows, brushes, and floor, then you may be one of the millions of people tolerating abnormal hair loss, also known as alopecia. If so, you may be asking, “is there a way for me to control hair fall and regrowth?”
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first some background.
Types of hair loss
Doctors who specialize in hair loss can identify many specific types of hair loss, but here are four of the most common categories:
- Androgenetic alopecia – the most common form of hair loss, usually referred to as male or female pattern baldness. It’s genetic and has no real medical implications.
- Effluviums – discharges of hair that occur when the hair follicle falls off its normal grow/rest cycle. The causes are wide-ranging, so you’ll need a doctor to make a diagnosis.
- Alopecia areata – develops when the immune system begins erroneously attacking hair follicles. Generally, it is contained to the top of the head but can target hair all over the body.
- Scarring alopecia – a temporary condition where ragged-looking bald patches appear, possibly in conjunction with other visual changes on the scalp. For instance, simultaneously experiencing a burning scalp and hair loss could indicate a scarring alopecia diagnosis.
Causes of hair loss
Myths about the causes of hair loss can be found all over the internet. Here are just a few of the most common myths you can stop believing:
- Wearing hats and helmets suffocates your hair
- Baldness is passed down on your mother’s side
- Shampooing too often kills your hair
- Over-brushing influences hair loss
- People with bad diet and exercise habits go bald
- Frequently tanning “cooks” your follicles
- Dandruff and natural oils promote hair loss
- Styling products promote hair loss
Ironically, most of the myths you’ve heard suggest that behavior is largely to blame for the loss of hair when, in reality, behavior actually has little to no influence.
By and large, hair loss is genetic. For most people, the thinning begins in a person’s thirties or forties. During that period, the hormonal balance of our twenties begin to change. When hormone levels rise and fall on the inside, there are often physiological effects on the outside. Hair loss is among them.
Of course, not everyone will experience hair loss in their mid-life years. Some people may never know what it’s like to experience thinning hair. It’s a crapshoot, just like height, skin tone, and color blindness.
There are some illnesses that have hair loss as a symptom. Examples include iron deficiency anemia, alopecia areata, lupus, and thyroid disease. If you have any of these conditions, you may find that your hair is beginning to thin.
But don’t get nervous. Just because you’re losing more hair than you used to doesn’t mean you’re sick. Doctors who specialize in hair loss will tell you that without the presence of concurrent symptoms, such as back pain and hair loss, your hair loss is likely genetic.
While simultaneous symptoms may indicate the possibility of an illness, some symptoms should be more worrisome than others. Itchy and dry scalp are two examples of symptoms for which you need not immediately sound the alarm.
How to treat dry scalp and hair loss, or an itchy scalp and hair loss
Unless you’re dealing with scarring alopecia, a dry or itchy scalp probably doesn’t have that much to do with your hair loss. That’s because the hair follicles are located several millimeters below the scalp. Most of the time, scalp problems and hair loss problems are separate issues.
The best initial treatment for dry or itchy scalp is to use the right kind of shampoo. Common dandruff shampoos can be purchased over the counter and medicated shampoos, such as ketoconazole can be obtained with a prescription.
Can I reverse hair loss?
Whether you have classic pattern baldness, such as hair loss on sides of head (male or female), or something a little less common, you are probably wondering what you can do about it.
Luckily, there are ways to slow, stop, and reverse hair loss. So, who should you talk to? Which type of doctor specializes in hair loss? The answer is dermatologists.
The most common treatments are:
- Topical creams, such as Rogaine
- Light therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
- Hair transplants
Your dermatologist can diagnose the cause of your alopecia and help you determine which treatment plan is right for you.
Hair loss home remedies
If you want to try something else, you can consider a home remedy, like taking vitamins or applying weird household substances to the hair. While you won’t find many dermatologists recommending these solutions, some people swear they work.
If you want a home remedy, we recommend a good multivitamin. After all, you could probably use more vitamins in your life anyway. Vitamins D and B12, as well as biotin, are often cited by name.
Otherwise, you can try the more interesting options, such as shampooing with apple cider vinegar, onion juice, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil, or garlic.