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Apart from the aesthetic value of hair i.e beautification, it has other important functions as well. This includes the protection of the skin from direct harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, and together with the skin, serves the function of sensitivity, temperature regulation as well as other functions.
Due to the many benefits of hair, losing it partially or completely can affect not just one’s physical appearance but the psychological state as well.
Hair loss is more common in women than in men, this is perhaps why women tend to spend more money, time, and energy on hair care.
What are the types of hair loss?
Types of Hair Loss
Hair loss, medically known as alopecia, is of several types. These can be generalized as total or partial, permanent or temporary, hereditary or hormonal, etc.
1. Patchy Hair Loss (Spot Baldness)
This is an autoimmune disease that causes the body and immune system to consider the hair as a foreign body, therefore destroying it. This can be temporary or it can result in total loss of hair.
2. Androgenic Hair Loss
It is named so because it is caused by excess androgens (male hormones—but also present in the body of females) and heredity. Males can begin to experience this type of alopecia from their early 20s while women, in their 40s or even early 60s.
When it affects the upper and frontal part of the head of males, it is known in arewa as‘ saiko‘ (also pronounced as ‘sanko’). For women who experience it, it occurs mostly on the crown (top) of the head as opposed to males.
3. Temporary Hair Thinning
This occurs due to changes in the growing circle of hair. These changes can be caused by some diseases and even pregnancy; this is why some pregnant women experience temporary hair loss after giving birth.
4. Involutional Hair Loss
As other organs of the body weaken in function, the hair also undergoes natural thinning with age. The hair becomes shorter and fewer as well.
5. Scarring Hair Loss
The use of hot combs, plaiting, or weaving the hair into very tight braids usually results in alopecia. This permanent loss of hair can also be caused by diseases that destroy the hair’s ability to regenerate (e.g Acne, Lupus)
This psychological disorder that makes people pull out their own hair is known as Trichotillomania. This is most commonly seen in children. You can read more about Trichotillomania here.
Now that you know the types of hair loss, how will you know that you’re losing your hair?
Signs and Symptoms of Hair Loss
The Signs that let you know when you’re losing your hair include;
- Gradual thinning of hair
- Circular (or patchy) bald spots
- Full loss of hair in all parts of the body
- Patches of scaling on the scalp (this is a sign of ringworm)
- Sudden loosening of hair
Now that you know the signs and symptoms, I am sure you are eager to know the cause(s) of those symptoms.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss can be caused by several factors and they includes the following:
- Physical and emotional stress
- Deficiency of Vit-B12
- Low protein consumption
- Over styling
- Pain relievers, antidepressants, and anabolic steroids
Treatment of Hair Loss
As mentioned earlier, some types of alopecia are irreversible (permanent) while some are reversible (temporary).
Some of the victims of irreversible hair loss simply chose to accept it and move on with their life, while others result in the use of wigs or tattooing the affected area.
However, those affected with reversible alopecia can regrow the lost hair. The treatment method used depends on the cause. Some of the available options are:
1. Use of topical creams and lotions: These creams help to partially or completely restore the growth of hair. There are many creams available but it is best to meet qualified medical personnel for a prescription.
2. Surgery: it is mostly men that undergo this method of treatment. It involves the removal of some hairs from unaffected areas to affected areas and also the removal of bald skin which is replaced by stretching of the hairy skin over their area of the scalp.
3. Immunotherapy: This option is used for those affected by total hair loss. This has not proven to be very effective yet but there’s hope that it will improve in the nearest future.
Prevention of Hair Loss
Prevention is always easier and cheaper than cure. One should put considerable effort to avoid loss of hair and the consequences that come with it. This can be done by:
1. Avoiding perming, bleaching, dying, heating, and excess pulling of hair. All these are causes loss of hair. By not doing them, one stands a high chance of not experiencing hair loss. You can read more about how to improve hair growth here.
2. Washing the hair is very important too. This should be done regularly with a good brush and mild shampoo or soap. This helps to keep the hair clean and protects it from infections that might likely lead to alopecia.
As mentioned above, the consumption of food containing excess Vit-A, deficient Vit-B12, and low protein causes alopecia. This can be avoided by regularly consuming a balanced diet rich in the nutrients needed for hair growth. Some of the required nutrients are Iron, Vit-B12, biotin, and Vit-C.
Now that you know, I hope you’ll do as much as possible to protect your precious hair from balding and thinning.
Do you have questions? You can write them below in the comment box.
Thanks for reading.