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Abnormal hair loss or balding in women – part 1

Abnormal hair loss or balding in women – part 1

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With the increase in the popularity of what is sometimes erroneously termed “protective hairstyling”, we are seeing more and more women suffering from disorders of the hair and scalp as a result of hairstyles that cause tension to the scalp and hair (braiding and weaving), or hairstyles that deprive the scalp of oxygen (wigs).

One such disorder is hair-loss. The medical term for hair-loss is alopecia. This disorder is not only as a result of poor hairstyling choices. We will learn about the different causes of alopecia.

It must be noted that it is quite normal for persons to lose hair everyday. The hair goes through a cycle of growth, fall, and replacement. This cycle allows for the generation of new hair cells. Many persons mistake the natural shedding of hair for alopecia. In fact, the normal amount of hair strands one should lose a day is 75 – 150 strands. When you start experiencing more than 150 strands, one should become concerned and consult a trained cosmetologist. Let’s look further into the disorder alopecia and how we can recognise it.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is abnormal hair loss or balding. It may happen on any part of the body. There are many types of alopecia. Some types cause temporary hair loss and your hair will grow back. With other types, hair loss can get worse, and become permanent.

How do I know I have alopecia:

It can be hard to tell if you’re losing hair — especially if your hair loss happens gradually. Instead, you may notice that your ponytails don’t feel as thick, or that your scalp is more visible.

If you’re unsure, ask your stylist (preferably someone who has known

you for some time) if they have noticed any differences. This is especially important for women who are experiencing hair loss in areas that are difficult to see without someone else’s help, such as the top of the scalp.

If you or your stylist suspect hair loss, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Generally, the sooner you act, the more hair you can save. Going to see a doctor can determine whether it can be treated by your hair care specialist or if it has to be dealt with internally.

Other warning signs are:

• Gradual thinning on top of the head. This is the most common type of hair loss affecting people as they age.

• Circular or patchy bald spots.

• Sudden loosening of hair.

• Full-body hair loss.

• Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp.

Next week, we will look at steps to prevent or slow hair loss and treatment of alopecia

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