Alopecia: what are the causes and how to prevent this accelerated loss of hair?
What is alopecia?
A short lesson in etymology: the word "alopecia" comes from the Greek "alopex" which means "fox". What is the relationship between the animal and the health concern? Every spring, there is an abundant fall of fox fur ... and it reminds of hair loss!
Alopecia is defined as an abnormal loss of hair on the body (eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs ...): when it occurs at the level of the scalp - this is the most common case - we speak of baldness.
Dermatologists distinguish two types of alopecia:
- Thecicatricial alopecia, which is the result of active destruction of the hair follicle (burns, lupus erythematosus, lichen planus, radiotherapy ...),
- The non-scarring alopecia, which result from processes that reduce or slow hair growth without causing irreparable damage to the hair follicle (ringworm, trichotillomania ...).
What are the causes of alopecia?
- Andro-genetic alopecia
This form of alopecia is not uncommon and can affect both sexes: it affects about 15% of men at the age of 20, 30% at 30 and 50% at 50; 20% of women are affected by the age of 40
On the other hand, the zones concerned are not identical: in the man, the fall of the hair settles generally at the level of the temples or at the top of the head, One can also observe (especially when the baldness begins early) men who become totally bald at the top of the head, but keep their hair on the sides and back of the head.
In women, the loss of hair concerns the top of the skull (along the line) and usually manifests as a rarefaction rather than a complete disappearance of the hair.
Androgenetic alopecia is an inherited condition in which dihydrotestosterone (also called androstanolone) plays a major role.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means it is caused by an overreaction of the immune system, in this case directed against the hair follicles. Every year, in France, there are 60,000 to 120,000 cases.
It is characterized by acute, non-cicatricial hair loss on one (or more) well defined and smooth round plates. On the periphery of the plates, we observe hair "exclamation point" or very short or resembling small black buttons.
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a psychological disorder that is the expression of tics or auto-aggressive neurosis: children are more affected than adults and it is estimated that between 1% and 3% of the world population would be affected.
In case of trichotillomania, there is a loss of hair by circumscribed plaques with broken hair of irregular sizes.
- Cutaneous lupus erythematosus
Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (LEC) occurs in 70% to 85% of patients with lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by the falling of hair and hair patches all over the body.
- Alopecia of traction and cosmetics
Alopecia of traction is especially noticeable in young women, and follows an excessive and prolonged traction on the hair, often in connection with hairstyles (braids, ponytails, tight buns ...). Coloring, straightening ... can also cause hair loss.
Other possible causes:
- Drugs (chemotherapeutic agents, anabolic steroids, drugs used to treat high blood pressure, acne, thyroid disorders, seizures or anticoagulants),
- Eating disorders (excess vitamin A, iron or zinc deficiency),
- Mycotic infections (for example: scalp ringworm),
- Secondary alopecia related to certain pathologies (infection with HIV, syphilis, atopic eczema, psoriasis ...).
Hair loss: how to prevent alopecia?
Here are some tips to prevent alopecia - however, it should be noted that andro-genetic alopecia is hereditary:
- avoid using a hair dryer that is too hot and too close to the head; also avoid straightening irons and curling irons,
- avoid hairstyles too tight, too often; also avoid frost, hairspray and hair dyes,
- adopt a diet rich in iron, copper, silicon, essential fatty acids, zinc and vitamin B: egg yolk, hazelnuts, bananas, kiwis, whole grains ...
- favor a mild shampoo with a neutral pH; avoid dry shampoo,
- opt for dietary supplements that protect and boost hair growth (cystine, arginine, B vitamins ...).
Aromatherapy side. A shampoo recipe with essential oils against hair loss: take an empty bottle of 50 ml, pour a few centimeters of neutral shampoo, then add 4 drops of essential oil of Geranium Rosat, 4 drops of essential oil of grapefruit , 2 drops of essential oil of Cajeput, 2 drops of essential oil of Ginger. Fill with neutral shampoo until the bottle is filled. Source.
Side homeopathy. Take 3 granules of Thallium sulfuricum 5 CH morning and evening. In case of alopecia with alopecia areata, dry and brittle hair: 3 granules of Fluoricum acidum 5 CH morning and evening. In case of female alopecia (after delivery, during breastfeeding): 3 granules of Sepia officinalis 5 CH morning and evening.
When hair breaks - Swiss Medical Review
French Society of Dermatology
National College of Dermatology Teachers
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