Hair problems are many, varying from hair loss (alopecia) to greying of hair to the other extreme, excessive hair growth (hirsutism).
In this blog post, let’s first deal with hair loss, what’s causing it, and how you can manage it.
There are numerous causes, these include hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiency, genetic, metabolic, stress, etc.
Both genders are affected equally.
There are over one lakh individual hairs on your scalp.
Let me explain to you about the hair structure to give you a better picture. Hair consists of two parts as such. The hair matrix contains differentiated epidermal cells that give rise to the hair shaft.
The other part is the hair follicle which arises from specialized dermal cells called the dermal papillae. The dermal papillae have blood vessels that supply nutrients to them.
Loss of hair happens naturally every day to everybody. One is usually alarmed when the extent of hair loss is visible to oneself or to especially prying eyes around them. The hair root and the shaft do not remain constant.
Hair growth is cyclic meaning growth is followed by resting (transition) and falling stages.
The hair cycle consists of three phases:
- Anagen – wherein the hair follicles undergo growth. It lasts for three years roughly.
- Catagen – the hair follicles are resting, with no growth or no falling off. It lasts for a shorter duration of three months.
- Telogen – where only the hair shaft falls leaving the hair root intact.
Sometimes I see patients worried complaining of loss of hair including the hair root. The white sac-like structure in the distal end of the hair is not the hair root like they assume, but it is the hair bulb which cements the hair shaft to the hair root. The hair root is a structure that is deeply embedded in the deep dermis and will neither come out nor be visible even when plucked forcibly.
From this, it’s easy to understand that hair loss management consists of two parts:
One, to tackle the problems of the hair root (which is beneath the visible skin), products should be applied to the scalp skin which will then be absorbed and penetrate the deep dermal area to strengthen the hair root.
Meanwhile, to counter problems of the hair shaft, the product is applied on the grown visible hair. The hair shaft consists of a protein called keratin which is enclosed in a protective layer called the hair sheath. It can be damaged by many things we do in our daily lives. Exposure to the Sun, applying harmful chemicals, undergoing regular cosmetic procedures or just undergoing salon treatments which includes heat. This causes frizzing of hair which ultimately leads to breakage of the hair shaft.
The conclusion is no single product can tackle problems of both root and shaft. You need a combination, i.e. one to take care of the root and one for the shaft. Expecting miracles of hair growth from mere oil applications alone will do no wonder.
Also many people have an already oily scalp. Applying oily preparations deliberately over scalp skin loosens the hair bulb because of inflammation resulting in further hair loss. So remember to take care of your hair root with preferably a hair serum and your hair shaft with hair oil.
Apart from these local measures, if the hair loss is appreciable one should consult a dermatologist to evaluate for different causes including hormonal, genetic, nutritional, etc. so that specific oral medications along with nutritional supplements would help reverse the loss.
– Dr. Ashokkumar, Dermatologist.