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Getting To The Root Of It

Men and women alike have been plagued by hair loss since as long as we can remember. But, is it natural to lose so much? Pearl Mathias delves into some common and uncommon causes of hair loss

Although it’s natural to lose 50 to 100 strands of hair each day, it always makes us uncomfortable to see stray strands lying around the room or find them on our clothes. There are many reasons for hair loss such as too much vitamin A, according to a study published in the American Academy of Dermatology. Genetic factors may play a role as well, if you come from a family that suffers from hair thinning or hair loss, according to a study published in Clinical Genetics. Dihydrotestosterone — a form of testosterone — is the primary trigger with male- and female-pattern baldness. We tell you about other common and unusual causes of hair loss and simple measures you can take at home to remedy the situation.

SOMETHING COMMON

Heredity is a big factor, but hair loss can be caused by poor diet too. We contacted Dr. Akshay Batra, managing director and vice chairman at Dr Batra’s Healthcare who tell us about other common causes.

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 the control group. Follicles that are constantly deprived of blood (and therefore nutrients) cannot produce hair properly.

Stress: People loose hair when they experience traumatic situations or illness. Suffering from prolonged illnesses such as dengue, typhoid or malaria can also cause stress on the body. A person may be genetically predisposed to baldness, which can get induced by an extreme stressful situation.

Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause and conditions such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can all lead to significant hair loss.

Hair treatments: Various chemical treatments that are done on the hair, especially with ammonia-based products, perming, straightening and ironing can lead to hair damage and hair loss.

Infection of the scalp: Scalp infections, especially ringworm, can lead to hair-loss problems, and scalp diseases such as psoriasis may lead to it too.

Environmental issues: Scientists believe that toxins and carcinogens in polluted air and water can stop hair growth by blocking the mechanisms that produce the protein from which hair is made. Selenium toxicity can cause hair loss. Lead, cadmium, mercury, iron, aluminium and copper, many of which are found in fish, are also thought to contribute to hair loss.

QUITE UNUSUAL

There are simple causes of hair loss, which we’re familiar with, and then there are unusual things that you may not expect to contribute to your plight. Here are some of the less common reasons for hair loss.

Crash-dieting: Excessive dieting, especially mono dieting, which involves completely avoiding a particular type of food, disturbs the balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat in our bodies, leading to hair loss. “Sometimes hair loss does not reverse, even after one gets back on a normal diet,” says Dr. Akshay.

Oral contraceptives: Dr. Akshay tells us that certain oral contraceptives, those that contain synthetic progesterone, may lead to female-pattern baldness. “Taking oral contraceptives is also known to be associated with generalized hair loss in women some time,” he says.

Medications: Drugs used in the treatment of gout, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart problems can lead to hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment are other causes.

Smoking: The presence of nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the body’s extremities as well as the hair follicles. The follicles slowly lose nourishment, which can lead to hair loss.