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Hair loss or alopecia is the loss or thinning of hair present on the body, the head especially. The severity varies from person to person. It could be spot baldness or loss all over. All these depend on the cause for hair loss.
A normal head has about 150,000-17,000 hair strands. In order to maintain this volume, the amount of hair lost needs to be replaced by new hair strands. When this does not happen, this is when we say that there's hair loss or there's thinning of hair.
This falling of a hair strand and replacement by a new hair strand happens in a triphasic cycle-
1. Anagen: The long growth period of the hair strand.
2. Catagen: A short transitional phase.
3. Telogen: The long resting phase. Hair strands remain in this period for very long.
4. Exogen: This is where the strand falls out.
After exogen, the hair strand is replaced by a new strand in the follicle and the cycle repeats. Every hair strand goes through the cycle.
There are various causes for hair loss. Here are a few-
1. Post-Delivery and Menopause Hair Loss:
Post-delivery every woman complains of having excessive hair loss. This happens because the oestrogen levels in the body drop drastically post-delivery. This is temporary though. During menopause again, due to drop in levels of oestrogen women experience hair loss, dull and rough hair along with other changes to the body.
2. Regular Styling:
If you go for straightening, smoothening, colouring, re-bonding, or use a curling rod regularly, you're prone to losing hair. Excess of any of this causes hair to be damaged and falls pre-maturely.
3. Medical Conditions:
Thyroid, psoriasis, diabetes and many other medical conditions lead to hair loss.
4. Birth-control Pills:
Birth-control pills alter with a woman's hormones. Any form of hormonal changes affect the body in various ways; hair fall is one of the effects.
Stress doesn't just affect you mentally, it affects you physically too. This is the most common cause of hair loss. And stressing about hair loss causes more hair loss. The damage is not limited to hair alone, it could affect your scalp as well.
Here are hair conditions that arise due to stress-
• Telogen effluvium: Constant stress causes the hair to reach the resting phase abnormally cutting short the growth phase. When the growth phase is disrupted, the hair strand is not healthy enough to survive the daily wear and tear. After a few days this hair in resting phase starts to fall, causing hair loss.
• Anagen effluvium: When the growth phase is disrupted it causes an abnormal loss of hair in the anagen phase of growth.
• Another hair loss type occurs in the exogen phase when a new hair strand doesn't replace the fallen hair strand.
• Trichotillomania: This happens when the person itself unknowingly pulls out strands of hair from his/her head, eyebrows, moustache, etc. It's a way the people experiencing anxiety and stress deal with it.
• Alopecia areata: The immune system turns on the hair follicles during this and causes them to fall in large lumps around the scalp especially. Stress apparently is the cause for this condition.
• Itchy and dry scalp: When under stress, the body undergoes some hormonal changes producing inflammatory chemicals that affect the scalp. The moisture is lost leaving the scalp dry and itchy.
• Eczema: Due to a dry and itchy scalp, excessive itching causes rashes and redness. This could be hereditary. Being under stress delays the healing process of eczema.
• Psoriasis: The scalp becomes flaky and red causing excessive hair fall and bleeding sometimes in single washes. This could be hereditary too.
• Hair thinning: This happens when stress induces hair to move quickly from the growth phase to resting phase. This produces thin, fragile hair that could fall easily.
How to prevent hair fall caused by stress?
1. Food Matters:
When you eat just junk food, all you are doing is satisfying the tongue, the body gets nothing from it. You need a diet that's rich in micronutrients to promote good hair growth. These nutrients will also strengthen the hair and make them less vulnerable to fall.
This seems to be an answer to a lot of problems our body faces. Exercise releases endorphins in the body; these are also called the "happy hormones". These endorphins help reduce stress and keep the mind and body happy. Thus, exercise could stop hair fall caused by stress.
3. Hot Oil Massages:
Massages on the head help stimulate and promote blood circulation. These keep the scalp healthy and moisturize it too. The hair that grows is healthy and strong.
4. Home Remedies/Hair Masks:
You can begin treatment of hair fall at home by using readily available ingredients like coconut milk, aloe vera, neem, amla, yogurt, eggs, fenugreek, onion juice, lemon juice, Chinese hibiscus, honey and olive oil. These can be used individually or made into a mask and applied on the scalp regularly.
The main reason for stress is lack of sleep. Too much work and no rest is bad. It's healthy to figure out a sleep pattern and balance work and sleep to avoid stress.
Hair loss gives you sleepless nights and a lot of stress. You need to get to the root of what's causing it to treat it appropriately. If nothing works, there's no harm in getting professional help.