An average human sheds 60 – 100 hairs on day to day basis.
Albeit, a medium to heavy hair fall is a cause for worry as it might lead to Alopecia – a term used by the medical fraternity to describe baldness. The commonly found form of alopecia is Androgenetic Alopecia or pattern baldness wherein the hair line starts receding at the top of the head or temples, among men over a period of time. This type of condition can be due to the human growth hormones, which hand down the ‘balding genes’ from one generation to the next. The balding is permanent. Women generally experience only thinning of hair at the crown, front or side.
Hair loss can be temporary when a person is suffering from an illness, has gone through a traumatic experience or is on medication.
It is not possible to ‘cure’ permanent hair loss; only certain techniques like hair transplant are available to ‘treat’ the problem. Temporary hair loss is treatable with timely intervention.
Methods To Treat Hair Fall:
Nearly 1/3rd of the world’s population suffers from one or the other form of hair fall. Hair fall control has crossed over to the realms of cosmetic industry from the medical fraternity. Cures and over the counter medications have ensured that the ‘sufferers’ are splitting hair over which brand works the best.
Image Credit: Pulpolux
However, the DIY brigade is ignoring an ugly truth. These are only temporary solutions. They treat the symptoms and do not address the core problem. The result – more disappointment, in spite of having tried everything under the sun.
The person qualified to address this problem is a dermatologist. Consult a dermatologist to find out the root cause of hair loss and opt for an appropriate treatment.
A professional dermatologist can guide you to any one or a combination of treatments which might include medicines, surgical or any other form of remedy.
Medicinal Remedies :-
Medicines like Minoxidil, Finasteride, Corticosteroids and Anthralin can be used to treat hair fall. Among these Minoxidil is available over the counter while the rest are available on prescription from a medical practitioner.
- Minoxidil – This non prescription medicine is used to treat Alopecia Areata (balding in patches) as well as Androgenetic Alopecia. It is available at the medical/drug outlet in 2 or 5 percent liquid or foam solution. Patients are advised to rub the liquid onto the scalp twice a day for hair growth and arrest further hair loss. The re-growth is not as thick as the original and is shorter in length. It is sufficient though to hide the spots of balding and blend in with the existing hair. The treatment results can be observed in 12 weeks.
However, this drug may cause irritation on the scalp in which case it is better to discontinue its use. Doctors can also stop its use in treatment, if there is no significant improvement in the growth pattern after six months of usage.
- Finasteride – Finasteride is approved for use by men only as it treats only the male pattern baldness. It is a pill available on prescription only. The pill to be ingested daily works as it halts the testosterone from converting to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is responsible for shrinking the hair follicles, a significant contributor to hair loss in men.
The secondary effects of this drug include weakened sex drive and function and possibility of prostate cancer in patients with high risk. Finasteride unapproved for women’s use, especially women of child bearing age or are pregnant as it causes serious birth defects, if absorbed.
- Corticosteroids – Taken either in pill, injection, cream and ointment form, this is also a prescription drug to treat Alopecia Areata. The injections are given on the scalp twice a month. In severe cases doctors might prescribe pills as well. The effects of cream and ointments are comparatively less as compared to injections. The results can be observed by four weeks after the scalp is injected.
- Anthralin – This tarry and synthetic substance is available in cream or ointment form to be applied and washed off daily. Its original use was for psoriasis; however some doctors might have prescribed it in treating some other skin disorder, which might lead to hair fall. This drug stimulates the growth of new hair in patients suffering from Alopecia Areata. The effect is observed within 12 weeks.
Surgical Remedies :-
Patients opt for surgical treatments when medicinal remedies might not have worked for them. Generally surgical treatment is the last resort when the hair fall is beyond control and irreversible. Some surgical treatments involve hair transplantation, scalp reduction or laser therapy to stimulate hair growth. However there are still some inhibitions about laser treatment in the medical fraternity as its efficacy is yet to be proved and approved.
On the flip side, surgical remedies are painful and expensive. The process is ongoing and involves the risk of infection and scarring. It takes around 6 – 8 months for the treatment results to kick in.
- Hair Transplantation – Hair transplantation involves techniques like punch grafts, mini grafts, micro grafts, slit/strip grafts to treat Androgen Alopecia as the hair loss in this case is permanent. This treatment involves the implantation of sections of skin on the bald sections by a dermatologist/cosmetic surgeon. Typically, the surgeon removes small portions of skin containing one to few hairs from the back or side sections of the patient’s scalp for hiding the bald spots.
This treatment has to be ongoing as in Androgenetic Alopecia; the hereditary form of hair loss is progressive by nature.
- Scalp Reduction – This treatment involves reducing bald skin area on the patient’s head. It has been observed that over a period of time the skin on the scalp and top of the head becomes flexible and can be sufficiently stretched in order to remove it. After the scalp without hair is removed, it is closed with the help of a scalp that has hair on it. Another technique involves folding of the hair bearing skin over the bald patch.
Other Remedies :-
- Other Treatments – If taking medication is an issue or surgery is not an option people dare to opt for, there are other forms of remedies to overcome the embarrassment caused by baldness. Patients can buy good quality natural looking wigs or hair pieces to cover the bald patch.
Some people can even opt for alternative therapies like acupuncture, naturopathy, ayurveda, homeopathy to make a difference in their hair loss patterns. Sometimes, when the hair loss is temporary, people can try to identify the root cause of the problem and make necessary changes in their lives like eating a wholesome nutritive diet, staying away or dealing positively with stressful situations or bringing about a change in their destructive pattern of lifestyles.
Future of Hair Fall Treatments:
People who have given up on all kinds of treatment have a hope in research as researchers are finding a cure to baldness. By addressing the root cause of baldness in a person, they will be able to work out a solution to treat it appropriately. Moreover scientific research indicates positive signs of treating hair fall via cloning or genetic therapy.
The author loves to blog on lifestyle and especially those issues that affect their perception of self and outer world. She also blogs on topics like skincare, hair care, HGH and other health and lifestyle related issues in general.