Human hair grows at the rate of half an inch per month, with individual hairs growing for up to five years before falling out and new hair taking its place. It’s normal to lose about 100 hairs per day, but if your hair is falling out faster than it can grow back, you may be facing baldness.
Each person has approximately 100,000 hair follicles on their scalp and each one holds a hair. Male pattern baldness or hair loss in women can happen when follicles shrink with age, resulting in finer hair that doesn’t grow in as long or thick as usual. At some point the follicle shrinks to the point where hair no longer grows from it.
Thinning hair may also be related to a decline in testosterone, inherited genes, stress, and some medical conditions.
Symptoms of Thinning Hair
When people start losing hair, they usually notice that it begins to fall out at the crown or sides of the head above the temple areas. Hair that does grow back tends to be finer and shorter. Eventually it completely stops growing back. This is the typical male pattern baldness associated with genes and aging.
If hair begins to fall out in patches and is accompanied by scaling, itching, flaking or redness of the scalp, a fungal infection, eczema, or psoriasis may be the cause.
Some prescription medications may also cause hair thinning in both men and women, such as blood thinners and antidepressants.
Diagnosing Hair Loss
A physician will be able to tell whether baldness is due to age, genes, a medical condition or prescription side effects. If skin lesions, pain, or irritation are present, a biopsy of the scalp may be taken and tested. If a medical condition is found, certain drugs or ointments may be prescribed.
Non-Medical Treatment for Baldness
A lot of men, and even a few women, don’t mind being bald and don’t seek treatment for it. Some people may find thinning hair and baldness to be embarrassing so they find other solutions to the problem. The easiest way to disguise thinning hair is to try a different hairstyle. Curling the hair or getting a permanent can make thin hair look fuller.
For those who want a natural look, a wig or hairpiece can be worn, though they tend to fall off during vigorous activity and shouldn’t be worn while showering or swimming.
Medical Treatment for Hair Loss
Some drugs that have been shown to grow back hair and slow hair loss are Rogaine, Proscar, and Propecia. Also known as Minoxidil, Rogaine comes in a liquid or foam solution that is applied directly to the scalp. Hair loss is usually slowed, and new hair may grow back. With Propecia and Proscar, also known as Finasteride, a pill that inhibits the male hormone dihydrotestosterone is taken. Hair loss is slowed though new hair doesn’t grow in already bald areas. The drugs must be used consistently or hair loss returns.
Another alternative for hair loss in men and women are hair plugs. With this method, small pieces, or plugs, of hair and scalp are taken from areas where hair grows in thicker and is transplanted into balding sections. Although this procedure is costly, the end results are very effective and permanent.
If you find that you’re losing hair faster than it can grow, trying one or more of the above methods may help restore your hair and confidence.