Help, my hair is falling out!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Hair loss (alopecia) affects both men and women and can be distressing and detrimental to one’s self-esteem!

At any one time, approximately 90% of the hair on your scalp is growing. The hair lifecycle is divided into three phases:

  1. Anagen (active hair growth)
  2. Catagen (transitional hair growth)
  3. Telogen (resting phase)

Slowing and thinning hair growth is a natural part of aging and a result of predetermined genetic factors, but there are many other causes of hair loss or alopecia:

Androgenic Alopecia: Also known as male and female pattern baldness, is a genetic condition. It starts with a receding hairline and the gradual disappearance of hair from the crown.
Alopecia Areata: This pattern of hair loss is an autoimmune disease that causes patchy and sometimes complete baldness however the hair can sometimes return in a few months.
Telogen Effluvium: Is the temporary thinning of hair across the scalp due to changes in the growth cycle. It is the most common type of hair loss. These changes are often triggered by stress, illness or a traumatic event. The hair in the active growth cycle is prematurely pushed into a resting phase and can start falling out two or more months after the stressful episode. Telogen effluvium can be acute or chronic. Acute episodes can be triggered by febrile illness, major injury, a strict diet, pregnancy, medications (anticoagulants, beta-blockers), hormonal changes and emotional stress. Chronic episodes can be caused by cancer, liver disease and autoimmune diseases like Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Traction Alopecia: This is when thinning of hair is due to braids or tight ponytails.
Scarring Alopecia: Is when hair loss is caused by complications of other conditions where the hair follicle is destroyed and the hair won’t grow back. Conditions include scleroderma, lichen planus and discoid lupus.
Other Medical Conditions: Hair loss can also be caused by diseases such as hypothyroidism, iron deficiency anaemia, tinea capitis, scalp infections, etc.

Treatment Options

For many of us, our hair is a defining part of our identity and hair loss can have a significant impact on our self-confidence. Although many causes of hair loss are temporary and hair loss rarely needs treatment, people seek treatment due to the significant emotional impact.

If hair loss is caused by an infection or any other medical condition, it is important to treat the underlying condition first to prevent any further hair loss.

Androgenic Alopecia can be difficult to treat due to the genetic component. Treatment options include Finasteride tablets (available on prescription) and topical products that contain different combinations of Minoxidil, Latanoprost and caffeine.

Alopecia Areata is best treated with “watchful waiting”, especially if it only occurs in small patches.

Corticosteroid injections and topical creams are widely prescribed, and other topical preparations like Minoxidil and Latanoprost might be useful.

Telogen Effluvium is a limited process, and therefore reassurance is often all that is needed. Reversible causes such as a poor diet or an iron deficiency should be corrected with a focus on adequate protein intake, replenishing low iron stores and obtaining essential nutrients. Topical products such as Renokin hair products by Lamelle can help, and treatments such as Carboxytherapy and Mesotherapy with growth factors have also yielded great results.

Do you have a question on skin or health for our experts? You can ask it here.

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  1. Diana Van Den Berg

    I have noticed my hair falls out a bit in winter, but i think that is normal for the winter months

    1 month ago •

  1. Ariesha Govender

    I had this problem since I was little. My hairdresser always told me it’s because I had thick hair. Later I discovered I was lacking iron, and recently my hair began falling again my GP told my it was due to hormones. There are so many reasons why our hair can fall out.

    1 month ago •

  1. Feli0017 CHEYANAND

    My hair has been falling out a lot recently, I noticed when I use oils on my hair it helps to get thicker hair as long as I’m consistent about it

    2 months ago •

  1. Gervase

    Recently my hair has been falling out but in no significant area of my head. I just happen to shed hair like a dog. LOL. I haven’t treated it because I am under no stress and it is not noticeable, mainly annoying.

    4 months ago •

  1. Danielle Cateley

    I have to be careful of traction alopecia due to my tight buns and ponytails :/ Great info, thanks! :)

    6 months ago •

  1. Arlene Beukes

    I have a very close family member who suffers from androgenic alopecia. The condition has caused her great embarrassment. It is truly detrimental to one’s self-esteem.

    6 months ago •

  1. Cookie Nandlall

    My hair loss was due to anemia. After extensive medical treatment my hair bounced back to normal growth.

    6 months ago •

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