Baldness / Hair Loss

Partial or complete loss of hair is also called alopecia. Hair loss or baldness usually develops gradually and may be patchy or diffuse (all over).

Roughly 100 hairs are lost from your head every day. The average scalp contains about 100,000 hairs. Each individual hair survives for an average of 4 1/2 years, during which time it grows about half an inch a month. Usually in its 5th year, the hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one. Genetic baldness is caused by the body's failure to produce new hairs and not by excessive hair loss.

Both men and women tend to lose hair thickness and amount as they age. Inherited or "pattern baldness" affects many more men than women. About 25% of men begin to bald by the time they are 30 years old, and about two-thirds are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60.

Hair loss can be a subtle metabolic disorder, or related to persons with diabetes or cancer however, baldness is not usually caused by a disease, but is related to aging, heredity, and testosterone. It can also be triggered by a poor diet, especially a deficiency in calcium, zinc and magnesium. In addition to the common male and female patterns from a combination of these factors, other possible causes of hair loss, especially if in an unusual pattern, include:

· Hormonal changes (for example, thyroid disease, childbirth, or use of the birth control pill)
· A serious illness (like a tumor of the ovary or adrenal glands) or fever
· Medication such as cancer chemotherapy
· Excessive shampooing and blow-drying
· Emotional or physical stress
· Nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing
· Burns or radiation therapy
· Alopecia areata -- bald patches that develop on the scalp, beard, and, possibly, eyebrows. Eyelashes may fall out as well. This is thought to be an immune disorder.
· Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp)

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