Can hair loss be reversed? – Dr. Sanjay Panicker

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A very common question asked by most of my patients is whether my hair loss can be reversed. Hair loss is a very common term which is used by common man and they usually say that they are loosing hair. But if you look at it medically there are 40 different types of hair loss and whether it can be reversed or not, depends upon the type of hair loss the person is shaving which we can diagnose with the help of certain equipments like videomicroscope or a hair analyser, equipments like that. There are biopsy, blood tests and all those things with which we can identify what type of hair loss it is and we can tell the patient whether you can reverse it back or not. Medically speaking among all the 40 types, we do not get all the 40 types of cases that come to us. The most common type of hair loss that comes to us androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata and telogen effluvium. They are the 3 most common types of hair loss that we come across. Now if you look at androgenic alopecia is a condition where the hormone dihydroxytestosterone which is there in both men and women comes and attaches to the hair roots on the crown area of their scalp because the scalp area becomes sensitive to this particular hormone. When the hormone attaches to the root if the hair the nutrition which is supposed to reach the hair reduces and hence the hair starts thinning. Everytime a thicker hair falls, a thinner hair starts growing, a thin hair falls a even thinner hair grows and eventually it dies. This process of thinning of the hair strand usually happens after 50 years or after 60 years but nowadays we see a 20 year or 30 year old people coming up with this common type of hair loss where the hair is thinning. This is an ageing process of the hair strand.and aeging is supposed to happen in a later on stage in life but for some people due to various lifestyle and reasons and hormonal problem and so many things like that we get this condition happening earlier. Now here in medical science, two things is irreversible, one is if I become old, I cannot become young. Once there is death, the dead tissues cannot be restored and once a person becomes old, he cannot become young. The same rule applies to the hair. Once the hair become sold, it cannot become young, once the hair dies, ten you cannot bring it back to life, there’s no way that you can do it. So in androgenic alopecia, which is a process of ageing, after it ages, it dies. So once it dies then you cannot bring it back to life. Once it ages, the thick hair what you have on the scalp can become as thin as what you have on the body, as small as the hair you have on my hand now here. Of these types of very small types of hair are also seen on the scalp as the scalp hair becomes thinner and thinner. So once it becomes very old like that you cannot make it thicker, there’s no way. Once it dies you cannot bring it back to life again. So in this condition, it is irreversible you have to arrest that particular process with treatment and the hair which has just started ageing, we can improve it, but the hair which has become old, we cannot. Like ion the other condition, telogen effluvium, it’s a common condition seen after pregnancy, after delivery, when women start loosing a lot of hair and maybe after a major illness like typhoid, malaria, jaundice, after antibiotics people loose lot of hair like in bunches. Like if I touch the patient’s hair, I get 10 – 15 hair in my hand. So that is telogen effluvium. In this particular type of condition, you get , you lose hair from all over your scalp, not specifically form the crown alone, its from the entire scalp and it is this type of hair loss is there, you can restore it back. Actually the patient starts improving. Many patients restore or improve it even without any treatment. That is called acute telogen effluvium. When it is chronic, when it goes beyond a particular stage like more than 6 months the person is losing hair like this, then its called chronic telogen effluvium and in this condition we have to interfere and we have to treat it with medication. Otherwise the person will go bald. The other type of alopecia is alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss which comes here and there in patches. In this type there are two types of hair loss, scarred and non-scarred. In the scarred one there is a scare which forrns in the area of the patch and the scar once it forms, it is like any other wound scar, their hair roots are destroyed and hair cannot grow back whereas in the non-scarred variety you can grow back he hair if you treat it and if you don’t treat it also in some patients it grows back. But in cases these patches starts increasing the entire hair of the scalp is lost, that is called alopecia totalis, the total hair is lost and some people, it even affects the eyebrows, it is an autoimmune condition.

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