Hair normally grows in all places on our skin except for the palms and the soles of our feet, but
in most places it’s so thin that it’s invisible to our eyes. Hair is made up of keratin, a protein
which is produced by the follicles in our skin. The hair we see is a strand of dead keratin cells.
Typically, hair follicles produce hair at the rate of about 15 centimeters a year.
Every single hair follicle a certain life cycle that is susceptible to several factors such as age,
disease. This life cycle is divided into three phases called Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. It is
during the anagen phase that the follicle actively produces hair cells. The duration of this phase
varies between 2 and 6 years.
Typically the average adult has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs in their head and loses up to
100 of them a day as the follicles cycle within their healthy natural phases. Even though hair
growth slows down as we age, there are many other conditions under which natural hair growth
can be disrupted. Although it’s not known for certain why some hair follicles are programmed to
have a shorter growth period than others, several factors are known to influence hair growth
such as : Hormones, genetics, stress, illness, childbirth, drugs, blood thinners, beta-adrenergic
blockers, birth control pills, burns, injuries, x-rays, cosmetic procedures, medical conditions and
Hair loss in general is called Alopecia and the types of alopecia are ;
Androgenic Alopecia : This type of hair loss is caused by a genetic predisposition that can be
present in both men and women. The main culprit in this condition is DHT which is a derivative
of the male hormone testosterone. For men this condition is often called male pattern baldness
and hair loss in this case can start as early as their teens. First signs are typically a receding
hairline and gradual thinning of hair starting from the crown and the front of the scalp. In women
this condition is called female pattern baldness and although they don’t typically experience
thinning until their 40s or later, a general thinning over the entire scalp later occurs with the most
extensive hair loss at the crown. Treatments include certain medications such as minoxidil and
Telogen Effluvium : Temporary diffuse hair thinning on the scalp that occurs when the life
cycle of the follicles are disrupted by various reasons such as stress, trauma and hormonal
fluctuations. The number of follicles producing hair drop significantly and as most of the follicles
enter the resting phase simultaneously, hair starts shedding and thinning, in some cases all
over the scalp. In this condition there is usually no receding hairline except for some rare cases.
Alopecia Areata : A condition that can be seen in both men and women, most often seen in
children and young adults where hair loss is seen in patches. This condition mostly results in
just one or two bald patches, but for some the hair loss can be extensive and even in some
severe cases it can result in complete baldness. In the majority of people the hair that is lost
comes back within a few years.
Scarring Alopecias : Permanent hair loss that occurs due to inflammatory conditions such as
cellulitis, folliculitis, acne and other skin problems that in turn destroys the ability of the hair
follicles to produce hair in an area. A hair transplant treatment may be suitable depending on
the patient’s condition.