To understand the types of hair loss, it is important to understand how your hair grows. There are around 150,000 hair follicles on the head of a normal adult and each follicle has a life cycle consisting of three stages.
The first stage is active growth of the follicle. This stage lasts between two and six years. The second stage is a 2-3 week phase involving growth of transitional hair. The third stage, which is a 2-3 month stage, involves replacement of old hair with new hair. This means there is constant growth of new hair, loss of old hair, and replacement of the lost hair on your head all the time.
Under normal conditions, a healthy adult should have normal hair growth that should result in a head full of hair. However, your appearance may change due to loss of hair, which can occur due to natural reasons like old age as well as other reasons ranging from genes to excessive stress.
Types of hair loss
The most common type of hair loss is called Involutional Alopecia, which is nothing but normal loss of hair as one grows older. As one ages, more hair follicles go into the resting stage while the number of follicles in the first stage comes down drastically. So, more hair is shed and fewer follicles are generated to replace the lost hair.
Fewer follicles and natural thinning of hair will result in hair follicles becoming fewer, shorter, and less dense. This is why people seem to lose hair very quickly as they grow older.
The second type of hair loss is called Androgenic Alopecia. This refers to a genetic condition where hair loss occurs in a distinctive manner. Hair loss occurs in a distinctive pattern with the hair line receding from the front and top of the head. The hair on the sides of the head remains thicker, which causes that distinctive look where the front of the scalp is completely bald even as hair growth takes place on the side.
Unlike the first type of hair loss, this may occur even at a very young age. Men often witness this type of hair loss in even their 20s while women suffer from this type of hair loss in their 40s. In women, maximum hair loss occurs on the crown with the front of the scalp retaining some hair.
It is a misconception that all types of hair loss results in permanent damage. The third type, Alopecia Areata, results in patch loss of hair in youngsters and even children. The condition may progress rapidly completely baldness. Yet, just one of ten individuals suffering from this type of hair loss remains bald. In all other cases, hair growth normally resumes after a few years.
The fourth type of hair loss is Alopecia Universalis, which, as the name suggests, results in loss of hair from the entire body. Head, eye brows, public hair, and even eyelashes fall out. This is an extreme condition that is not as common as other types of hair loss.
It is incorrect to say that hair loss is an unnatural phenomenon that is indicative of a medical or health problem. We know that hair growth occurs in three stages with the third stage, the resting stage, involving thinning and loss of hair.
Now, if a large number of follicles enter the resting stage simultaneously, you will automatically end up with a temporary thinning of hair on your head. This type of hair loss, the fifth type, is called Telogen Effluvium. It is a temporary thing and your hair will look thicker and healthier once follicles enter the first stage again.
Of course, it is possible for your hair to go into resting phase due to a shock that may range from excess stress to a severe physical ailment. This is a part of your body’s natural mechanism to cope with stressful and undesirable external and internal conditions.
Of all the types of hair loss, the sixth type, Scarring Alopecias, occurs due to a disorder or any other condition. From inflammation of the skin, other disorders, improper care including application of a hot comb, keeping the hair together in excessively tight coils, and even leading a high-stress life may result in permanent hair loss irrespective of your age.
This type of loss can be a particularly troublesome affair because the individual often ends up with scars on the scalp after loss of the hair. While baldness can be managed, presence of scars can affect your appearance and self esteem negatively.
Of course, it is possible for different types of hair loss to occur simultaneously. The genetic recession of the hair line combined with Scarring Alopecias may result in a permanently bald look at a very young age.
Finally, the last type of hair loss may occur to a psychological disorder where the individual pulls out his or her hair. This type of hair loss is called Trichotillomania. Children may do so at a very young age but this is a natural act that stops as they grow older. Youngsters with a mental ailment or physiological problem may exhibit the trait of pulling the hair out of their scalp. This problem can be rectified through counseling and medical care.
Knowing more about the types of hair loss is essential if you wish to identify the right course of treatment for your problem. Applying lotions to your head when the root cause of the problem is genetic is hardly going to make a difference. Similarly, it may make sense to just wait out the problem of hair loss if it is a temporary issue caused by thinning of your hair.
The types of hair loss described above have been identified by medical science over years of research. Of course, it is certainly possible that you may experience some unique symptoms when experience hair fall. However, knowing the type of hair loss you are facing will certainly help you tackle this problem with a lot more confidence.