Trauma to Hair Follicles: Why do some of us lose it?
Author: Leslie Correa is a nationally renowned hair designer and hair chemical specialist, (Color, Perms, Relaxers) he has devoted the past 24 years perfecting his craft in the art of hair design. He has devoted his career to knowing how to refine the best qualities of your hair and bringing out its natural beauty.
Source: Beauty Magazine
Types of hair loss
- Trauma: Burns and Accidents
Trauma to hair follicles can result in permanent hair loss. Thermal and chemical burns for example, can kill hair follicles and result in hair loss.
- Normal Shedding:
During the resting stage of the cycle of hair growth, the hair follicle relaxes its hold on the hair shaft bulb, and the bulb of the hair shaft moves closer to the surface of the skin. Over time, normal hair movement and shampooing cause the hair shaft to loosen further. Eventually the hair is shed. Shedding hairs is normal. On average we shed about 50-100 hairs each day (we also grow about 50-100 new hairs each day).
- Telogen Effluvium:
Telogen effluvium is when a sudden severe stress causes noticeable shedding of hair after the stressful event. The hair loss is always delayed, usually 3-4 months after and sometimes 5 or 6 months after the stressful event. The event can be a physical stress such as childbirth, a heart attack, a severe illness with a high fever, sudden weight changes, or a major surgical procedure. Sudden severe emotional stress can also trigger telogen effluvium, including the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a job termination.
- Anagen Effluvium:
Anagen effluvium is the sudden loss of hair as a result of powerful chemicals or radiation suddenly halting the hair growth cycle. There is no 3-4 month transition to a resting stage, as with telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is most commonly experienced after chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment for cancer. Within just 1-3 weeks after treatment, some or all of a patient’s hair falls out, often in uneven patches.
- Alopecia Areata, Totalis, Universalis:
It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million men, women, and children in the U.S. have some degree of alopecia areata. There are three basic types of alopecia areata:
- Alopecia Areata: small, smooth circular areas of hair loss affecting less than 50% of the scalp.
- Alopecia Totalis: more than 50% hair loss on the scalp.
- Alopecia Universalis: complete hair loss affecting the scalp as well as the face and body. Although the cause is not yet clearly known, researchers feel alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation points out that other than the hair and occasionally the nails; no other part of the body is affected. For more information http://www.alopeciaareata.com/default2.asp
- Androgenetic alopecia:
This is the most common type of hair loss, eventually affecting about half of all men or 75 million (male-pattern baldness) and 10 to 20% of women 30 million (female-pattern baldness). A slightly elevated level of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone probably plays a major role, along with genetic factors. The hair loss can begin at any age, even during the teenage years.
- Traction Alopecia:
Traction alopecia occurs when hairs are constantly being pulled upon, usually by tightly braided hairstyles, elastic bands holding hairs together and hair extensions. This type of styling traumatizes the hair follicles, and the hairs fall out before the end of their growth period Permanent hair loss can result if the new hairs that grow out are subjected to more pulling, although this usually requires constant pulling over many hair growth cycles. Repeatedly pulling out a hair from a follicle will eventually result in finer hair growing back, and eventually no new hair growth. The follicle will simply quit growing new hairs.
Various hair removal methods that involve pulling out hairs take advantage of traction alopecia, including waxing, depilatory machines, and plucking hairs out with tweezers. After hairs are pulled, the follicle takes 3-4 months to recover, and during this time the unwanted hairs are gone. Repeating the procedure on the new hairs that grow out will result in finer hairs growing back and eventually will result in permanent hair loss.
Pulling hair, lashes or brows is a far more common problem than you believe. It is believed that around 2% of the population pull or pluck hairs from their scalp, brows or lashes, or even other parts of the body. Trich is considered an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and is an anxiety disorder. Not a disease. This can be cured through care counseling to reverse the habit. I once heard it being described as though it were a fly on your lip. If a fly landed on your lip, the first thing you would try to do would be to swat it off. That’s what Trichotillomania is like. It’s a reflex, not a disease.
- Hair Shaft Breakage:
Broken hair shafts are a type of hair loss caused by damage to the hair itself, (the “hair shaft”). Improper or excessive hair styling, aggressive grooming techniques, and exposure to too much swimming pool chlorine and sunlight are common causes of hair shaft breakage. Rough treatment of the hair can result in hair loss. Hair styling chemicals can damage hair shafts if used incorrectly. Hair dyes, colorings, bleaches, relaxers (straighteners), permanent wave solutions are all generally safe for hair when used as directed. Incorrect use includes application of these products too frequently, and leaving the solutions on the hair or scalp too long. This is why it is important to make sure the stylist performing Thermal Reconditioning on your hair is an experienced stylist who is very familiar with the chemicals to be applied on your hair.
(Here is where I step in to interject a contrary opinion. Athough I’m no chemist, it’s a known fact that permanent hair dyes and coloring have to raise the cuticles and deposit color into the cortex. In the case of bleaches, the chemicals actually raise the cuticle, take the color out of the hair shaft. If you’re going blond that’s it. If you’re going to a lighter different color, then that new color has to be deposited into your hair shaft. The stripping of or depositing color, whatever the case may be, is damaging and drying. In the case of color deposits, they can make the hair shaft swell, leaving nappy hair (all hair really) even more susceptible to dryness. And we all know that relaxers destroy the original chemical bonds that make your hair nappy. They make your hair more prone to being dry and brittle, and therfore weaker, leaving much more prone to damage and breakage. Over time, many people have experienced hair loss from using these chemicals whether applied correctly or not.)
Hair styling often involves the use of heat on the hair shaft. Excessive heat from curling irons and blow dryers can cause hair shafts to become weak and brittle and prone to breakage. A heat protector will only protect the hair but not the scalp.
Aggressive grooming and personal hygiene such as vigorous shampooing, scalp massage, and rough towel drying of the hair can break hair shafts. Combing long wet hair with fine-toothed combs can cause shaft breakage. Excessive shampooing can result in dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage. Use a paddle brush to minimize breakage of hair.Repeated exposure to both swimming pool chlorine and sunlight will weaken hair shafts. Covering your hair with a swimming cap is a good way to avoid chlorine in pools, and some shampoo and conditioner products are designed specifically to neutralize the effects of swimming pool chlorine. Covering your hair with a hat or towel when in the sun helps to avoid exposure to excessive sunlight.