Who wouldn’t want a beautiful mane with long, thick hair? But sometimes it may seem like a herculean task to make your hair grow. And it is that some of us also have to have thinning or hair loss. If you have ever wondered why the hair stops growing, we have the information about this puzzling phenomenon. Normally, hair on the scalp does not grow continuously. Each hair follicle goes through a growth phase known as the anagen phase during which it becomes longer and then passes to the telogen phase where it rests. Usually, a hair remains in the anagen phase between 2 and 4 years and then in the telogen phase between 2 and 4 months before falling. At any time, about 85-90% of the hair on a person’s head is in the anagen or growth phase and the rest is in the telogen phase. This cycle usually causes a person to lose about 100 hairs in one day. Each hair follicle goes through this growth phase before taking a break and becoming inactive for a short time. The cycle resumes again. But many factors can alter this balance and prevent hair from growing normally. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
Like hair color, hair length and thickness are also governed by genes. In some people, hair naturally has a longer growth phase, while in others it stops growing before. So if you have won the genetic lottery, your hair can grow more. For example, Asians generally have an anagen or longer growth phase than Caucasians, while Afro-Caribbean people have a growth rate that is half that of Caucasians.
Aging changes your hair. Of course, we all know what causes hair to lose pigment and turn gray. But it can also slow the rate of hair growth and make hair strands become smaller. Many hair follicles can also stop growing new hair with age.
3. Alopecia Areata:
The alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells of the hair follicles, causing hair fall zones. In some cases, the hair may even fall out completely (total alopecia). It is believed that genetics play a role in the development of this condition. It has also been found that people with hay fever, vitiligo, Down syndrome, pernicious anemia, thyroid disease and asthma have a higher risk of getting alopecia areata. In more than 90% of cases, the hair grows back and the baldness areas disappear on their own within 12 months. Doctors may also recommend medications or phototherapy to treat this condition.
4. Hereditary Pattern Baldness:
Hereditary pattern baldness is considered to be the most common cause of hair loss. It is caused by a combination of the aging process, hormonal levels and genetics.
“In people with this condition, the normal cycle of hair growth is altered due to the influence of the male hormone testosterone, which causes the hair to be thinner and shorter”.
Over time, hair growth may stop completely in some parts of the scalp. In men, this results in the typical pattern of thinning hair at the top or a receding front line, while in women hair loss can be more diffuse.
5. Physical or Psychological Stress:
Physical or psychological shock can trigger a condition known as telogen effluvium. In people with this condition, more hair is prematurely taken to the telogen phase. When this happens, generally, about 30% of the hair stops growing and goes into the resting phase (compared to 10% in normal conditions). Severe psychological stress or other factors that stress your body such as surgery, significant physical trauma, extreme weight loss, severe infection, high fever or illness can trigger telogen effluvium. The condition typically does not last more than 6 months.
6. Hormonal Changes:
Sudden hormonal changes, such as those seen during pregnancy and menopause, can also trigger telogen effluvium. But the hair loss associated with these events typically resolves in 6-24 months. Hormonal fluctuations associated with polycystic ovary syndrome can also lead to hair loss.
7. Thyroid Problems:
Thyroid problems can also make your hair thin. Your thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormone that regulates many activities, including your metabolism. Both thyroid hormone insufficiency (hypothyroidism) and excess thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) can affect hair growth and cause loss. You may also notice other symptoms associated with thyroid disease if it is at the root of your hair loss. Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, increased sweating, diarrhea and muscle weakness, while hypothyroidism can result in slowness, constipation, cold sensation, less sweating, weight gain, hoarse voice and swollen face.
8. Certain Medications:
Many medications, such as birth control pills, calcium channel blockers, retinoids, beta blockers, certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antidepressants, etc., can hamper hair growth and cause hair loss. If you discover that your hair is shrinking after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor to determine if the medication might be causing it.
9. Nutritional Deficiencies in Iron, Protein, Zinc or Biotin:
Nutritional deficiencies can also hamper hair growth. And research indicates that iron deficiency can be one of those factors that leads to hair loss. If you have an iron deficiency, you may also experience symptoms such as brittle nails, cracks in the corners of your mouth, fatigue, shortness of breath and cold hands and feet. A deficiency of zinc, biotin or protein can also lead to hair loss. These deficiencies are usually observed in people who are on restrictive diets or who have some medical problems that lead to nutrient malabsorption.
10. Scalp Infections:
Fungal infections of the scalp can cause the hair to break on the surface of the scalp and cause hair loss in patches. You may also have areas of the scalp with itching, swelling and redness if you have a fungal infection. This can be treated with antifungal medications.
11. Harmful Treatments and Hairstyles:
The use of corn wicks, braids, hair extensions and even tight ponytails can pull the hair and cause it to break. Long-term use of these hairstyles can even damage the hair follicles and cause permanent hair loss. Strong chemicals and extreme heat can also damage the hair and cause it to break before it grows to its full length.