Hair plays an important role in defining one’s looks, and we all love our tresses. And when we find those extra strands on the pillowcase or in the shower, it could be rather distressing. Unlike for the skin, hair fall treatments are scarce. The thinning of the crown can greatly affect one’s self-esteem and mental health.
We all know that shedding few strands is absolutely normal. But what do we do when we see more than the normal?
Let us identify few reasons behind this undesirable phenomenon:
People often do not consider this as a reason, but this could be the very thing that is causing your hair fall. Deficiency of iron (ferritin), zinc, protein, Vit D and biotin are linked with hair fall. The body needs nutrients to create new strands. These nutrients are also essential to maintain healthy hair follicles and avoid shrinkage and breakage.
In today’s age, most of us follow some or the other kind of diet because of which we tend to avoid certain food groups. It is important that we keep a track of what we eat and make sure that we do not end up being nutrient deficient.
It is known that a lot of women suffer from hair fall shortly after giving birth. This is caused due to drop in oestrogen levels and it is a temporary condition, and it settles within a year or so.
It is a popular belief that dandruff causes hair fall. It is seen that if the condition is severe, people tend to lose hair.
However, contradictory to the popular belief, dandruff by itself cannot cause hair fall. In fact, the factors that cause dandruff, also contribute to hair fall.
That being said, severe dandruff can cause damage to hair follicles due to which the hair starts thinning or stops growing.
Scalp conditions that cause dandruff and hair fall are: Seborrheic Dermatitis, Fungal infections, Scalp psoriasis, Lichen planopilaris and Folliculitis decalvans.
Using appropriate anti-dandruff shampoos and topical steroids can easily bring these conditions under control in most cases.
This condition is popularly known as “male or female pattern baldness” and it is known to be the most common cause of hair fall or hair loss. As the name suggests, this is a genetic condition. Alopecia is mostly seen as a person ages, but it is also known to happen at any age after puberty. If women experience this condition during menopause, then it is likely that the hair fall is due to the hormonal changes.
Hair growth has four phases: Anagen (growing phase), Catagen (transition phase), Telogen (resting phase) and Exogen (shedding phase) and these phases last for different lengths of time. The exogen is an extended part of the telogen phase and many experts consider the telogen phase as the shedding phase.
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which the hair tends to be in the shedding phase for longer time. This causes more hair fall. It is advised that one seeks medical help to identify the cause.
Certain factors that affect the telogen phase are: thyroid problems, stress, childbirth, surgery, excessive weight loss and certain medications. It is important to identify the underlying cause that aggravates this condition.
Sometimes there is excessive hair fall during the anagen (growth) phase. This condition might also cause hair to fall out from the eyebrows and eye lashes.
Factors that cause this condition include: auto immune diseases, fungal infections, chemotherapy and radiation.
This is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles and other parts of the body. One might notice hair falling out in chunks from the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. It is advised to seek medical consult where the doctor can prescribe certain medications to reduce the severity of the condition, which can help hair growth in some cases.
This is mostly caused when hair is pulled into tight hairstyles like tight braids, ponytails, use of extensions etc. In order to prevent further damage, it is advised to avoid tight hairstyles.
Medications and birth control pills
Medications used to treat acne, certain anti-depressants like Prozac and Zoloft, certain blood thinners and cholesterol lowering drugs might cause hair to fall out.
Also, prolonged use of birth control pills might lead to hair loss. For some people, the hair fall might start several weeks after they have stopped taking them.
To minimize the risk of hair loss, one can opt for pills that have a low androgen index like Desogen, Ortho-Cept and Ortho-Cyclen.
Diet and Supplements
As mentioned in the causes, diet plays an important role in maintaining our luscious mane. The best way to start would be to get a blood work done and identify the deficiencies in your body. This might sound a bit extreme, but it is the easiest and the fastest way to get to the root of your concern.
Maintain a food journal and track your nutrient intake, especially if you are on a particular diet. Make sure you get enough amounts of protein, zinc, vit D3, Biotin and iron. Increase the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics.
Supplementing your diet with a multivitamin is also an excellent way to tackle any deficiencies.
In case of deficiencies, a daily dose of Vit D3 1000IU is recommended for non-scarring alopecia which could also aid in hair growth.
According to a study, it is seen that the Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of Androgenetic Alopecia in men.
Treatments such as PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and certain laser treatments might stimulate hair growth and improve hair density for people with hair fall. However, one might need several sittings to see desired results.
There are special combs available for thinning hair. These are laser combs and other comb-like devices that are used to stimulate the scalp which might result in hair growth.
However, these are less effective than the medications and are quite expensive. These laser combs are approved by the US FDA and are absolutely safe to use.
Certain medications like Minoxidil, Finasteride and Phenylephrine have proven effective to combat hair fall. However, these medications have certain side effects, and it is advised to be taken under medical supervision.
In a random study, it has been seen that certain essential oils have proven beneficial in treating alopecia areata. Massaging the scalp with oils like thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood mixed with carrier oils (jojoba and grape seed) is a natural and safe way to deal with hair fall at home. Certain oils like lemon, tea tree, basil and peppermint are quite beneficial in dealing with dandruff.
A patch test is advised before using essential oils to check for any allergic reactions.
Regularly massaging onion juice on to the scalp is believed to be beneficial in promoting hair growth and hair thickening. The reasoning being that the sulphur content in the onion does the trick. However, there is insufficient evidence to definitively conclude that this works.
Massaging the scalp for few minutes in a day is known to improve scalp health which in turn helps to deal with hair fall. According to a study, massage “might” help with hair growth and increase hair thickness.
Stress is a major factor that causes hair fall and has adverse effects on overall health. Regular exercise, cultivating a new hobby, yoga and meditation are known reduce stress.
The bright side- if your hair fall is stress related then most probably your hair follicles aren’t damaged. By taking appropriate measures to reduce stress (easier said than done), your hair can easily return to the normal rate of growth.
Keep yourself well hydrated as it plays a vital role in preventing dryness of the scalp which could cause hair breakage. Post shampooing use a good quality conditioner (according to your hair/scalp type) to keep the hair well moisturized. It is ideal to apply the conditioner to the hair shaft and not the scalp.
Many people find oiling as the go to remedy for dull lifeless hair, taming frizz and avoiding spilt ends. And it does work.
However, one must see to it that the oil is properly washed off. If not properly washed, the oil that remains unwashed tends to attract dust and dirt, which could clog the pores of the scalp and prevents the hair follicles from growing normally. This can eventually lead to hair fall.
Apart from the ones listed above, certain home remedies that include aloe vera, fenugreek, Indian gooseberry (amla) and Acacia concinna (shikakai) are known to be widely used to tackle hairfall and promote hair growth. But, more research is required to ascertain their efficacy.
Following the above-mentioned methods over a period will show good results. It is important to understand that the treatment time may vary from person to person and on the intensity of the hair fall.