Hair Loss - Overview
Receding hairline? Way too many hair stands in your hairbrush? More and more of your scalp peeping at you in the mirror?
Do not neglect any of these or you may be a tad too late for recovery. 2 out of 3 people with hair loss detect it late and you surely don't want to be amongst them.
After successfully treating more than 2,50,000 hair loss cases with the winning combination of Homeopathy, Trichology and Technology, Dr. Batra's can assure you of safe, effective and lasting solutions for your hair loss problems. Advanced diagnostic technique such as Video Microscopy, the expertise of our London-trained Trichologists and the use of technology such as Low level Laser comb & Piler light therapy form an amalgamation that is a reliable treatment for hair loss. Go ahead and experience the joy of finding a perfect solution for your hair loss problem.
Five million is the approximate number of hair on the adult human body of which about 80,000 to 150,000 are on the scalp!
Hair is composed almost entirely of a protein called keratin (which is why it is important to take enough protein in your diet) and gets the black color from a pigment – eumelanin. Not everybody has hair that is black; the yellowish or reddish color of some people’s hair comes from the pigment pheomelanin.
A tubular cavity in outermost layer of skin from which the hair shaft grows is called ‘hair follicle’. All hair follicles are formed while the baby is in the mother’s womb; no new follicle is produced after birth. Each follicle is capable of producing 20-30 hair strands in a lifetime, with each hair having a life cycle of 3-5 years.
Natural growth of hair:
Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch per month. It grows fastest in summers and slowest in winters, and grows best between the ages of 15 to 30. The total length to which hair can grow is genetically determined and therefore everyone cannot grow hair to the same length.
There are three main phases of the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen and telogen.
- Anagen is the active growth phase when hair fiber is produced.
- Catagen is the next phase - a period of status quo wherein there is neither growth nor regression of the hair strand
- Telogen is the final phase wherein the hair strand falls off and the follicle does not produce any new hair.
Every strand of hair goes through this cycle of growth, stagnation and fall. At any given point of time, about 90% of the hair strands are in the growing phase. When the ratio of hair in the growing phase and shedding phase is disturbed, the loss of hair becomes noticeable.
What is Hair Loss?
Hair loss is a generalized term characterizing loss of hair well in excess of the normal 50-100 hair strands per day. In certain cases even though the hair loss is within normal limits, for various reasons, the body stops growing new hair, leading to a gradual state of baldness.
Anyone can experience hair loss – men, women and children though it is generally seen to worsen with advancing age. Certain statistics state that almost 30% of people experience hair loss by 30 years of age and almost 50% get hair loss by the time they turn 50.
Women develop hair loss almost as frequently as men do but they don’t lose much of the volume due to hormonal differences. The patterns of hair loss also differ in both the sexes and this has been discussed at a later stage.
The response of people to hair loss varies from leaving the condition to run its own course to covering it up with hats, wigs, hair pieces, toupees, etc. Many rush to acquire lotions, pills, shampoos to curb the hair loss. And then there are even those who would take up the surgical option for freedom from progressing baldness. Whatever the options available, do consult your doctor before you opt for any of these.
Types of Hair Loss
There are more than 40 different types of hair loss known till date – some of them very common, others quite rare. It is not at all mandatory to know about each of these; however, knowing your type can help you to understand how well your hair loss can respond to treatment. Few of the common varieties of hair loss are discussed here:
- Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – This type of hair loss can affect both men and women and is caused by the hormone DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which is a male hormone. It accounts for almost 95% of the cases of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is genetically determined and can be classified as:
- Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) - This is typically characterized by a receding hairline at the temples and balding at the top of the head.
- Female Pattern Baldness (FPB) - Also known as Alopecia Diffusa, this is characterized by thinning of hair at the front, sides and crown of the scalp
- Involution alopecia – With advancing age, more and more hair follicles go into the resting phase. This leads to gradual thinning of hair and is called involution alopecia.
- Telogen effluvium - Severe stress may lead to noticeable shedding of hair – a large number of hair strands prematurely enter into the resting (telogen) phase and are thereafter shed. This may sometimes occur even 3 to 6 months after the initial stressor. The stressor could be anything like a heart attack, severe illness, high fever, sudden weight change, major surgical procedure, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, etc.
- Anagen effluvium – This is the pathologic loss of hair in the anagen (growth) phase, classically caused by radiation therapy to the head and systemic chemotherapy. It tends to be sudden in nature.
- Drug induced – Some of the drugs that can lead to loss of hair are Allopurinol (used for the treatment of Gout); Heparin, Coumarin (blood thinners); Clofibrate, Gemfibrozil (Cholesterol lowering drugs) and most of the chemotherapy medications
- Alopecia Areata – Patchy loss of hair, especially from the scalp
- Traction alopecia - Regularly wear pigtails, braids or tight hairstyles causes loss of hair from the part where hair is pulled tightly leading to traction alopecia.
- Trichotillomania - This is a psychological disorder seen more frequently in children where they tend to pull out one's own hair leading to hair loss.
- Other types of Hair loss
- Due to presence of Infections: Syphilitic Alopecia (caused by systemic syphilis), Tinea Capitis (a localized fungal infection of the scalp)
- Generalised atrichia – Caused by the presence of a recessive hairless gene, this is an extremely rare form of hair loss.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness is the most common cause of baldness seen in men. Triggered primarily due to the male hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), this can begin in some males as early as in their teens or twenties.
The condition is characterized by a typical pattern of receding hairline at the temples and hair thinning on the crown. It can progress to partial or complete baldness in some cases. This is the cause of hair loss in about 90% of men and more than one third of men are in their thirties. The percentage of men affected by MPB increases with advancing age.
How to identify MPB?
- Excessive loss of hair
- Hairline recedes from the front, temples
- Thinning of hair on the crown
- Bald patch on the top of the scalp
- Partial baldness
- Complete baldness at a later stage
How does it happen?
The male hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is important for the normal male sexual development. However, in some cases, the hair follicles are genetically sensitive to this hormone and exposure to it results in shrinkage of the follicles. This shortens the lifespan of the follicles and prevents them from producing hair normally. Hair follicles in the temples and crown of the scalp are more sensitive to this hormone and hence hair loss affects these areas more prominently.
Genetic cause is a strong factor for developing male pattern baldness and almost 80% of balding men have a history of baldness in their father or grandfathers.
This image shows the Hamilton-Norwood scale which grades Male pattern baldness from stages 1 to 7:
Stages of male pattern baldness according to the Norwood Hamilton Scale:
No hair loss. The head is full of hair.
Minor recession at the front of hairline and some temporal recession. This stage may not even be called as balding.
Recession progresses across the entire frontal hairline.
Temporal recession deepens.
Frontal recession keeps progressing backwards.
Besides the loss of hair in the frontal and temporal regions, there is early hair loss from the crown (vertex).
Frontal and temporal hair loss progresses and there is enlargement of the bald patch at the crown.
Hair loss progresses past the mid-crown.
Bald area in the front enlarges and starts joining the bald area at the crown.
Bald patches in the front and at the crown fuse and keep enlarging. The back part of the bald area is narrower are compared to stage 6.
The bald patch at the crown enlarges although it has still not fused with the bald area at the front.
Frontal bald area and the one at the crown are fused and continue to enlarge. The back part of the bald area is wider than in stage 5.
Extensive baldness where only a strip of hair remains at the back and sides of the head.
Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness, also known as alopecia diffusa, is a common cause of hair loss in women. It is characterized by diffuse loss of hair from the scalp.
The mechanism of female pattern baldness is believed to be very similar to that of male pattern baldness, with the bulk of the damage being done due to hormonal changes in the body. Genetic disposition combined with sensitivity to the male sex hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) are the primary triggers for this condition.
Besides the aforementioned, following can also lead to hair loss in the characteristic FPB pattern:
- Hormonal changes
- Delivery (Child birth)
- Nutritional deficiency
- Oral contraceptive pills
- Crash dieting
How to identify Female Pattern Baldness?
- Hair thinning all over the head - even if there is no visible loss of hair while washing or combing hair
- The frontal hairline is generally maintained
- Moderate loss of hair from the crown
- In rare cases this may progress to total or near baldness
- Facial hair may get coarse in some women (due to the effects of the male hormone)
Causes of Hair Loss
"A hair in the head is worth two in the brush" thus said Oliver Herford and he surely realized the worth of every strand. But do we stop to think as to what has resulted in all those extra hair in our hair brush, on the pillow or on the floor of our house? If we know what has caused the hair loss, we can surely take the next step to control the same.
We have already seen that DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) - the male sex hormone - is the primary trigger of male and female pattern baldness. Besides this, more and more hair follicles go into the resting phase with advancing age leading to gradual thinning of hair. Heredity is also known to determine hair loss problems.
Discussed here are some of the other general causes of hair loss commonly seen:
- Poor Nutrition: This is one of the commonest reasons for hair loss, especially in India. Iron deficiency (anemia) tops the list and is followed by protein deficiency. Improper absorption of the nutrients can also lead to poor nutrition.
- Crash dieting: Excessive dieting especially mono dieting, which involves completely avoiding a particular type of food group, causes a disturbance in the balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, leading to hair loss, which sometimes does not reverse even after the patient gets back to a normal diet.
- Oral contraceptives: Certain oral contraceptives using synthetic progesterone can lead to female pattern baldness. Then again, stopping oral contraceptives is also known to be associated with generalized hair loss for sometime.
- Poor circulation: A study of young men diagnosed with male pattern baldness showed that the blood flow to their scalps was on average 2.6 times lower than in a control group. Follicles that are constantly deprived of blood, and therefore nutrients, cannot produce hair properly.
- Smoking: Nicotine (tobacco) negatively influences the micro-circulation of the scalp leading to increased hair loss.
- Mental stress: There is increased hair loss when an individual is highly stressed - the exact mechanism of this is not known.
- Dandruff: This is inflamed flaky skin on the scalp and it hinders proper circulation and nutrition to the hair thereby causing increased hair loss.
- Medications: Drugs used in the treatment of gout, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart problems can lead to increased hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatment are other common causes.
- Presence of other systemic illnesses such as Diabetes, Lupus, Scleroderma
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc. can lead to significant hair loss.
- Hair treatments: Chemical treatment of hair especially with ammonia based products, perming, straightening, ironing, etc can lead to loss of hair
- Infection of the scalp - especially ringworm of the scalp can lead to hair loss.
- Local diseases of the scalp such as Psoriasis, lichen planus, etc.
- While recuperating from a serious illness such as high fever, sudden or excessive weight loss, after a surgery or from metabolic disturbances
Diagnosis of Hair Loss
At Dr. Batra's, with the use of breakthrough technology, we can diagnose hair loss even in the crucial early stages when most people tend to miss it. The use of Folliscope (PC based video microscope) is a painless and non-invasive test and it takes just a few minutes to measure hair thickness and density. It aids the diagnosis as follows:
- The Folliscope magnifies the view of hair follicles and the scalp up to 200 times
- It can determine the density of hair in a selected patch and detect thinning at an early stage.
- It identifies the ratio of terminal: vellus hair which may be altered in early stages. At a stage of early alteration of this ratio, patient is usually not aware about the hair loss that has already begun and if corrected at the right time, further loss can be prevented.
- Folliscope can also determine the type of the scalp (normal, dry, oily) so that patient can choose the right kind of products for his hair
- In addition, it can diagnose other conditions on the scalp such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, lichen planus, scarring, etc.
This early detection technology at Dr. Batra's which very few clinics have, facilitates early treatment thereby raising the probability of its success.
In most cases of hair loss, a detailed case history and proper examination also gives significant clues about the condition and its causes. Certain other tests may also be required to detect the cause of the hair loss:
- Pull test: This is done to diagnose or rule out telogen effluvium. Several hair strands are gently pulled together to see how many come out.
- Biopsy: In suspected cases of scarring alopecia areata, this may be performed.
- Blood tests for related conditions: To rule out anemia, diabetes, lupus, thyroid disorders, etc.
Safe and sure way to strong, healthy hair
At Dr. Batra's you can be assured of effective, gentle and safe solution provided by experts for your hair loss problems. After successfully treating more than 75,000 cases of hair loss over 35 years, we are in possession of expertise to detect your hair problems at an early stage as well as provide you with the best options of treatment.
Our three-pronged approach of Homeopathy, Trichology and Technology is a winning combination that has brought a smile to many suffering patients. International studies have also clearly shown that homeopathic medicines counteract the effects of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) thereby controlling the progression of hair loss without any side effects. Isn't it time you took your step to control your hair loss?
Use of Homeopathy:
At Dr. Batra's we have successfully used some rare and uncommon homeopathic remedies in hair loss cases and have got excellent results from the same. The fruitful use of these remedies comes from our vast experience and in-depth knowledge of this science. Clinical research on the homeopathic remedy Thuja has been conducted only recently and has shown its beneficial effects in hair loss cases as a DHT inhibitor; but at Dr. Batra's we have been using this remedy for more than last 25 years in hair loss treatment. This clearly demonstrates our experience and expertise in homeopathy.
The unbeatable advantage of Homeopathy combined with the expertise of our London-trained trichologists is now made easily available to you at Dr. Batra's. The head of Trichology department at Dr. Batra's - Dr. Akshay Batra and Dr. Ushma Batra are India’s first Trichologists from The Trichological Society of London. Dr. Akshay Batra is the first ever Asian Trichologist to get the honor of being the Vice President of the Trichological Society of London. With such experienced doctors to care for our patients, we leave no stone unturned in providing paramount service to all of them.
Additionally, each of our doctors providing hair treatment is personally trained by Dr. Akshay Batra so that only the best services are rendered to our patients. Our physicians closely assess your case using advanced diagnostic technique like Folliscope (video microscopy) and thereafter provide you with customized treatment options. The treatment goes beyond eliminating disease – it restores equilibrium, builds your defenses against illness and promotes lasting good health.
Advantage of Technology:
Technology has also been put to its best use at Dr. Batra's where we offer Swiss Polarized Rays (SPR) therapy (based on the Nobel Prize winning Piler Light Therapy) for cases of hair loss. A Swiss technology to start with, this is proven to have a beneficial effect on hair and scalp disorders. In addition, Low level Laser Comb is also made available for the patients to establish better circulation in the scalp thus controlling the loss of hair and augmenting hair growth.
At Dr. Batra's our nutritionists from London also lend their expertise by carefully charting out dietary dos and don'ts for our hair loss patients. These dietary tips have been clinically verified time and again and are derived from the vast experience of treating a large number of patients over more than 35 years.
Special formulations for our patients:
Our specially formulated Dr. Batra's shampoos have the right pH of 6.5 recommended by the New Zealand Dermatology Society. Many of our existing patients report good results with continued use of the same. Derived from natural products, these are very gentle on the scalp and yet very effective in treating hair disorders. For healthy hair in general, we suggest regular use of Dr. Batra' Shampoo (based on your hair type) and Dr. Batra's Conditioner.
Summarizing the aim of treatment at Dr. Batra's
- To control hair loss and bring it within normal limits
- To reduce the pace of deterioration
- To stabilize the thinning of hair
What does treatment at Dr. Batra's consists of?
- Detailed case taking
- Use of advanced diagnostic technique - Folliscope
- Determining the constitutional homeopathic treatment
- External homeopathic application wherever required
- Providing detailed nutritional guidelines
- Administering Swiss Polarized Rays (SPR) therapy (based on the Nobel Prize winning principle of Piler light therapy)
- Providing expert advice on hair management after examining the type of hair and the condition of scalp
Our concluding message to all hair loss patients - Treat Early and Control Hair Loss before it gets too late!
In addition to Homeopathy and the successful use of technology in treating our patients, we also extend our rich experience in providing self care tips to our patients. These have been clinically verified time and again and are backed by scientific studies.
This is what our nutritionists recommend:
- Avoid red meat since it's a DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) activator and therefore aggravates hair loss
- Include more of green tea and soya in your diet since these are natural DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) inhibitors and therefore help to control hair loss
- Pumpkin seeds (sun-dried or roasted) taken daily helps control hair loss
- Black dates, Halim seeds (gardencress), black raisins, fenugreek, eggs, nuts, cods are good for treating hair loss due to anemia
- Limit intake of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and lentils if you are hypothyroid and its causing you to lose hair
- For controlling hair loss due to dandruff (scaly scalp), take 2 tbsp of roasted powdered flax seeds daily. Yogurt also reduces intensity of scaling
- Reduce / stop smoking
There are few more things you can do to control your hair loss:
- Wash hair regularly with lukewarm to cold water to keep the scalp clean and healthy - but avoid washing hair too frequently
- Condition hair regularly to prevent hair loss due to breakage
- Avoid blow drying hair especially with high heat since it leads to easy breakage of hair. Let the hair dry naturally
- Avoid rubbing wet hair vigorously with a towel - just gently pat them dry
- Avoid combing hair when wet since it is prone to breakage at such time
- Use a wide-toothed comb instead of a hair brush
- Don’t choose hairstyles that put pressure on hair - e.g. tight ponytails, buns, etc
- If you must color your hair, choose ammonia-free products
- Avoid damage to hair as caused by chemical treatment, perming, straightening, ironing, etc.