Almost 15% of the people facing hair loss or baldness problems are due to the diseases that can occur of which hair loss might be a major or minor symptom of. Most amazing thing is that people are not even aware about the fact that there are diseases which can cause hair loss, and not because people are supposedly not good enough in taking care of their hair.
And also, amazing part is that people don’t even know that they might have it. But certainly, there are some diseases that can cause harms which result in hair loss and damage.
Things we can look about hair diseases:
- Problems with the shaft
- Is it the hair follicle that produces the disorder?
- Chemotherapy results on hair
- Do people lose all of hair in alopecia.
The issue with the hair is that it comes from the scalp. So there are 2 different things that can go wrong to give you a hair disorder.
- You can have an issue with actual hair shaft. These are the hair strands that pop out of the follicles or simply the hair. The dead protein that comes in a long chain that comes out of our scalp.
- Or you can have an issue with the scalp itself. A disorder in scalp will never grow good hair.
Today most of the people are aware of the fact that with age people have hair thinning type of hair diseases on their horizon. We call them male pattern baldness. But not only males but females can also suffer from male pattern baldness.
In scientific terms we call it Androgenetic alopecia. It can either have a male pattern or a female pattern, since it happens in different formats in different genders.
The other thing that comes into play in hair diseases is that after a stressful event like childbirth, or a surgery, or any personal life damage, you can shed your hair out of stress. Hair is basically cosmetic.
From a body standpoint, it protects our scalp little bit from scratching and retains a little bit of heat. But other than that, it is purely cosmetic. But in these cases, the hair grows back from telogen effluvium.
Telogen is a hair shedding phase as hair grows and shed in cycles unlike a reptile which sheds its skins all at once. Effluvium means robust discharge.
So when everything is in normal phase, these cycles rotate at regular intervals. But at times of bigger stresses induced in body, theses cycles irregulate and might not switch back to anagen that is the growth phase for quite some time.
They start shedding more than they normally should. But in this condition, after 9-12 months people regain the growth of hair as normal.
Problems with hair shaft:
Mostly popularly when it comes to hair shedding and growing, people think about female and male pattern baldness type of hair diseases. But there are huge chances that people can have disorders with the hair shaft itself.
Hair shaft is a growth of dead protein chains that sprout from your hair follicles. These shafts can be abnormally formed either genetically inherited or spontaneous. Some of the symptoms are:
- Strange glistening of hair
- Hair structure like wire or straw
- Breaking of each hair after certain length
- Not growing hair enough for a hair cut
These are some of the situations where people should opt to see a dermatologist for a hair shaft analysis. They observe the shaft under microscope for different traits according to the symptoms at varying strengths of magnification to figure out what hair disorder people have. We inherit some of them from the family tree.
Is it the hair issue or the hair follicle that produces the disorder?
There can be two forms of abnormalities either it be genetic abnormality or structural abnormality. Both arise from the bulb. Hair is like a tulip. A bulb is dug under the ground that is your scalp.
It must be oriented in the right direction and it has to have growth factors around it to then to grow a shaft just like a tulip flower. So it gets composed in the bulb which is where the things can go abnormal.
You can also have abnormalities of the protein structure that supports the hair that keeps it anchored in your scalp. In this case you will grow a normal hair but you can’t keep it simply because it gets pulled out due to normal activities like wearing a hat or brushing your hair.
You are born with the tendency for the most interited part. Some of them can accelerate with time. However, for the ones that have anchor problems where it’s the supportive tissue that doesn’t keep the healthy hair in place, they actually improve with age because with age the skin gets stiffer which provide some peripheral support. In these conditions it is necessary to have loose braids, no dreadlocks, be careful with the hats.
Second type of hair diseases which is more common is where you develop an inflammatory disease that comes to scalp and eats away the bulbs that are sitting in your skin and its surrounding structure. In this you will no longer be able to grow any hair in future if it results in the scar.
If the inflamed process is stopped right there and then before the scar and retained the follicular unit, there are chances for body to remember how to grow back a bulb and resulting in hair growth.
Chemotherapy results on hair
When the body goes through a chemotherapy, firstly it signals number of shocks due to the rays that the body has never been exposed to before. What happens is that the hair cycle that maintains the hair to shed and grow back, the anagen or the growth phase stops completely, and body goes into resting phase.
And it stays there for quite some time till it recovers itself back from the shock. Once the body is fully recovered and all the sessions of chemotherapy are over, the follicular unit bring back their old memory to wake up the bulbs.
Soon after the waking of the bulbs the anagen phase resumes and run its course. This leads to hair growth back into its normal state.
Do people lose all of the hair in alopecia?
The term alopecia means ‘hair loss’ and there are multiple reasons to lose hair. There can be entire head that goes bald or some part of it. Time is the essence when it comes to hair clock because once the hair follicular unit is destroyed then there is no other way to grow back hair other than grafting.
If you see some part of the scalp that is literally bald like shaved down, or its nicely cut out in a clean circle, or the skin is very shiny and looks very thin or it bleeds very easily or you notice that one part of your head shed more hair during combing than the other, you should go to a dermatologist because these are all very time sensitive diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] on Hair Diseases
It can be both genetic abnormality or structural abnormality
Hair themselves do not cause diseases but unhygienic hair or dirty hair can be a carrier of several viruses. Also extra long hair with extra tight ponytail can give headache sometimes.
It depends on the disease and the stage of the disease. Time is the essence of hair clock.
Hair diseases are not communicable among the people but it certainly travels along the genes and can be inherited.
Poor quality products can lead to hair loss and fungal infections, but they cannot cause any long-term permanent diseases. Check out the article Do hair products messes up with your hair.