Hair loss and scalp disorders
Inherited from either parent and typically beginning in the late teens or early twenties, this genetic hair loss is characterised by a gradual thinning of hair around the temples and/or top of the scalp.
Younger women are suffering from an epidemic of thinning hair and hair loss. The primary causes range from stress, improper diet and the greater use of hormonal therapies such as the contraceptive pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Often triggered through stress, Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune problem. Typically it begins with sharply defined bald areas which can occur to any area of the scalp. In more acute cases, all the hair may fall from the scalp (Alopecia Totalis) and all the eyebrows and eyelashes usually disappear. In rare cases, a complete loss of hair can occur from head to toe (Alopecia Universalis).
Another autoimmune problem, this is where hair follicles are destroyed. Patches occur slowly and inflammation and scaling around the affected hair follicles are typical.
Characterised by many slowly developing patches of baldness in which follicles have been destroyed, this is again an autoimmune problem. Treatments are normally not effective but the problem often stops of its own accord.
This occurs when the hair has been held under tension by such styles as braids or ponytails, or the individual has slept in rollers. The baldness often takes 2 or 3 years to become apparent and it often occurs around the hairline.
Held too tightly for too long a time causing structural damage.
The pulling out of one's own hair. Characterised by poorly defined areas in which there are many short hairs. Usually occurs in children. Any obvious signs of stress should be dealt with. Sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing in the hope the child will, in time, stop pulling their hair out.
A circular patch or patches of hair breakage. Hair stubble within the patch, redness, dilation of the hair follicles and itching of the patch are typical of ringworm on the scalp. The problem is caused by various fungi, usually caught from birds, puppies or kittens, which feed on the keratin of the hair and skin.
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is characterised by yellow greasy scales, inflammation to the hairline, oiliness and irritation. It appears that the sebum (oil) is acted upon by the yeast pityrosporum ovale (which we all have on the skin) and that the resulting product irritates the skin and causes the itching, scaling and redness. Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is most commonly located along the frontal hairline but can occur anywhere on the scalp. It often begins at puberty, when the increase in male sex hormones increases sebum production. The sebum of those affected contains proportionally less linoleic acid.
This is characterised by thick white scale that sticks to the base of the hair.
Lichen Simplex, also termed neurodermatitis, is a rare problem characterised by white scale on a red base, normally located in the nape area. Severe itching of the area in question is typical. The problem is a result of excessive scratching and rubbing of the skin, but what initially causes scratching is not known.
Contact Dermatitis is an inflammatory condition of the skin caused by an external substance. Sometimes scaling is associated with the dermatitis. There are two types of contact dermatitis - irritant dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. Both these types can, on rare occasions, trigger autoimmune problems such as Alopecia Areata. Irritant dermatitis affects only the area exposed to the causative agent, whereas allergic dermatitis can occur away from the site of contact. An allergic reaction to a substance occurs on the second exposure to that substance.
Dandruff is probably the most common scalp scaling disorder. It is characterised by loose bran like white scales which are visible through the hair. The cause appears to be attributed to scalp yeasts and stress. Treatments are varied and involve the use of Trichologically prescribed medications. The use of some of the commercial shampoos which are abrasive can aggravate this condition. General advice on treatment would again be given by a qualified registered Trichologist.