Hair diseases have become more rampant in today’s generation, with transforming lifestyles and grooming habits. With innumerable hair gels, mousse, sprays, serums, conditioners and shampoos available in the market for hair care and styling, it is virtually impossible to maintain one’s hair in their natural state. And then there is the matter of an anxiety prone lifestyle, pollution filled environment and genetic mutations. 70% of the population today suffer from one of the other form of hair problem.
Common Hair Diseases
Although hair loss is the pre-dominant hair problem caused due to internal and external environmental factors, there are several other diseases and conditions for which people seek treatment. These are –
- Hair loss (also known as Alopecia Areata)
- Hair lice
- Folliculitis (inflammation of one or more hair follicles)
- Scalp ringworm (Tinea Capitis)
- Female pattern baldness
- Male pattern baldness
- Premature greying of hair
- Scalp Psoriasis (excessive growth of skin cells leading to formation of reddish scales and patches)
Causes of Hair Diseases
Hair diseases and specifically hair fall or baldness can be caused by a multitude of environmental factors and internal genetic or somatic factors. While some of these factors can be controlled to reduce hair loss or damage, others are difficult to control. Common causes of hair diseases are –
- Hormonal imbalance: Hormonal changes are the leading cause of hair loss in women. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are common stages during which a woman can experience hormonal imbalance and lead to hair fall. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, malfunctioning pituitary gland and excessive production of androgens can be primary causal factors.
- Auto-immune syndrome: Body’s immune system can at times start malfunctioning and attacks its own hair follicles. This can cause patches of baldness to appear on the scalp which are smooth and don’t show any scars.
- Infections: Lice and ringworm infections due to poor scalp hygiene or environmental conditions can lead to formation of scaly patches on the scalp and hair loss.
- Skin disorders: Conditions like Lupus, Lichen planus and Sarcoidosis can cause scalp skin disorders which can cause baldness and scarring.
- Psychological factors: Conditions like Trichotillomania and even clinical depression can induce urges to pull out own hair.
- Chronic diseases: Diabetes, HIV infection and different forms of cancers can also trigger hair loss. At times non-surgical treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also cause hair fall
In addition to these causes, family history, poor nutrition, poor hygiene habits and even age can cause hair loss or increase susceptibility to various hair diseases.
Hair Disease Treatment
As medical science has progressed over the years, several advanced hair disease treatments have been developed which not only fix the hair fall and hair loss causing disorders but also restore hair growth. Diagnostic measures like the pull test, the pluck test, daily hair count analysis and scalp biopsy are conducted to determine the extent of hair disease and cause of condition. Both surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available. Hair disease treatment options are –
- Medications: Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a liquid or foam rubbed onto the scalp to prevent hair loss and induce hair growth. Yet another popularly prescribed drug for hair disease treatment is Finasteride (Propecia) which is an orally administered drug.
- Hair Transplant Surgery: In case of pattern baldness or bald patches, hair transplant surgery is a commonly prescribed treatment option. Hair plugs are removed from other sections of the scalp or anywhere else in the body and transplanted on the bald patches.
- Laser Therapy: Laser treatment of inactive scalp follicles to induce hair growth is a popular treatment option in pattern baldness.
- Stem Cell Transplant: In this non-surgical hair fall treatment option, stem cells are extracted from the patient and then injected into the scalp for restoring hair growth.
- PRP: Platelet Rich Plasma enriched with growth factors is injected into the scalp to induce hair growth.
- Other treatments: Retinoids, Methotrexate, Cyclosporine and UV light treatment are also used to treat scales or red patches on the scalp.