Hair grows almost everywhere on the human body. Except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. Many hairs are so fine they’re virtually invisible. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. This is a produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. The hair you can see is a string of dead keratin cells. How does male and female hair loss occur?
Hair follicles produce hair cells. As new cells are produced the old cells are pushed up. This increases the length of the hair shaft through the surface of the skin. Hairs grow at the rate of about six inches a year. The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs. It´s normal to shed or see fall around 100 per day. Finding a few hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily a cause for alarm. Male and female hair loss is not necessarily the reason.
At any one time, around 90% of the hair on a person’s scalp is growing. Each follicle has its own life cycle that can be influenced by age, disease, and a wide variety of other factors. This life cycle is divided into three phases:
- Anagen – active hair growth that lasts between two to six years
- Catagen – transitional hair growth that lasts two to three weeks
- Telogen – resting phase that lasts about two to three months; at the end of the resting phase the hair is shed and a new hair replaces it and the growing cycle starts again.
Hair loss treatment
While there’s no way to prevent or cure male and female hair loss, the goal of treatment is to slow or stop the loss of hair and then grow new hair. Our trained specialist NHS surgeons at The Hair Dr use the latest FUE technology to provide the best possible permanent treatment for hair loss. We understand that hair loss can affect confidence, so we ensure that individual expert advice and treatment are given.
It is thought that alopecia effects one or two people in every 1,000 in the UK. Alopecia is a general medical term used to refer to hair loss from any part of the body for any reason. Alopecia comes in a variety of patterns with multiple causes. There are several types of alopecia, ranging from thinning hair to complete baldness. Alopecia is broadly classified into 2 categories. In non-scarring alopecia, the hair follicles are still alive and hair can be grown. In scarring alopecia, the hair follicles are destroyed and will not regrow hair.
This type of hair loss occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles where the hair growth begins. It can occur at any age, although it’s more common in men aged 15-29 resulting in patchy hair loss. Alopecia Areata usually begins when clumps of hair fall out resulting in smooth, round hairless patches on the scalp. This condition may result in complete baldness (alopecia totalis), but in around 90% of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years.
Although these coin-sized patches are usually found on the scalp, they can occur anywhere on the body. Hair may also grow and break off, leaving short stubs called exclamation point hair. In rare cases, complete loss of scalp and body hair occurs. In most cases of Alopecia Areata, hair will grow back within a few months. At first, hair may grow back fine and white, but over time it should thicken and regain its normal colour.
Telogen Effluvium (TE) Diffuse Thinning | Chronic
Telogen Effluvium is temporary hair thinning over the scalp that occurs because of changes in the growth cycle of hair. Many hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing hair shedding and subsequent thinning. TE happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. Most often, the hair on top of the scalp thins more than it does at the sides and back of the scalp.
There is usually no hairline recession, except in a few rare chronic cases. TE, otherwise known as Diffuse Thinning or Diffuse Hair Loss, predominantly affects women but can also appear in men this is most common among seniors.
It can be caused by a lack of certain nutrients or as a side effect of illnesses including anaemia and thyroid conditions. However, another common trigger of this persistent hair loss condition is stress. This can be stress in the form of a sudden shock or trauma, including emotional stresses such as divorce or a bereavement. It can also be due to prolonged stresses like the pressure of work or family life.
Generally, the hair follicle isn’t damaged and the hair grows back automatically once the imbalance is addressed. In some cases, this does not happen and hair restoration treatments such as FUE are extremely beneficial.
This hair loss condition is gradual, caused primarily by force being applied to the hair through strain or tension. It commonly results from the sufferer wearing tight hairstyles such as braids and ponytails or emotional pulling (trichotillomania). The constant tension in the affected area either pulls out the hairs’ roots completely or causes the follicles to become inflamed. Damage to the follicles causes them to fall out.
Scarring Alopecia results in permanent loss of hair. Inflammatory skin conditions (cellulitis, folliculitis, acne), and other skin disorders (such as some forms of lupus and lichen planus) often result in scars that destroy the ability of the hair to regenerate. Hot combs and hair too tightly woven and pulled can also result in permanent hair loss.
Scarring Alopecia, also known as Cicatricial Alopecia, refers to a group of rare disorders that destroy hair follicles. Most forms of Scarring Alopecia first occur as small patches of hair loss that expand with time, causing permanent hair loss. In some cases, hair loss is gradual without symptoms and is unnoticed for long periods. Scarring Alopecia is associated with severe itching, burning and pain and can be rapidly progressive.
Some people go on to develop a more severe form of hair loss such as Alopecia Totalis (no scalp hair) and Alopecia Universalis (no hair on the scalp and body).
Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss. It usually starts around the late 20s or early 30s. During female pattern baldness, hair usually only thins on top of the head. This condition is male hormone-related but isn’t caused by too much testosterone. Instead, the hair follicles become sensitive to normal levels of male hormones but in a woman’s body. Female pattern baldness is measured by the Ludwig Classification System which is described here.