By Solaade Ayo-Aderele
Generally, the way your hair looks tells volumes about the state of your health. A head full of healthy hair is a head-turner any day, because healthy hair is seen as an important emblem of health and vitality.
Indeed, research suggests that hair and self-image are closely intertwined. And that is why many people, especially women, spend fortune on all sorts of hair products, ranging from salmon to silicone, all in a bid to have attractive hair.
Scientists say the average scalp has 100,000 hairs. “Each follicle produces a single hair that grows at a rate of half an inch per month. After growing for two to six years, hair rests awhile before falling out. It’s soon replaced with a new hair, and the cycle begins again. At any given time, 85 per cent of hair is growing, and the remainder is resting,” researchers explain.
They explain that because resting hairs regularly fall out, most people shed between 50 and 100 strands every day, and that’s why you typically find a few hair strands in your hairbrush or on your clothes whenever you comb your hair. This shedding of hair is necessary in maintaining hair health, and it is different from hair loss due to some health reasons, experts say.
While there are various reasons for hair loss, experts say the commonest cause of hair loss — medically called alopecia — in men and women is androgenetic, which may be due to ageing, changes in heart rate or genetic problems.
According to the online portal, healthplus24.com, the typical baldness that accompanies ageing in most men usually begins between the ages of 12 and 40 years, while visible hair loss occurs in about 30 per cent of men over the age of 30 and more than 50 per cent over the age of 50.
Scientists say 40 per cent of people who experience temporary or long term hair loss are women. And this may be due to thyroid problems or hormone imbalances.
According to a gynaecologist, Dr. Tunde Cole, during pregnancy, many women experience thick hair growth. However, within weeks after child delivery, the hair starts falling and it doesn’t stop until it returns to its pre-pregnancy state. “This is called “postpartum effluvium,” Cole explains.
He says the normal shedding of hair is inhibited by hormonal influences during the last trimester of pregnancy, and that once hair starts falling after child delivery, it may take up to two years for it to return to normal.
Physicians also say hair loss can occur after a severe illness, particularly if it’s an infectious disease marked by high fevers.
Described as “febrile-toxic effluvium,” family doctor, Grace Oluwaseun, says it’s usually seen in patients who have lost weight rapidly or among those who are on starvation diets.
She also warns that drug-associated hair loss may result from certain medications such as the progestogen oral contraceptives, high doses of vitamin A, retinoids, cimetidine, beta-blocking agents and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents.
“In the case of oral contraceptives, the hormones that suppress ovulation can cause hair to start thinning in some women, particularly those with a family history of hair loss. Among some women, the hair loss begins when they stop taking the pill,” Cole says.