Hairfall is a frustrating conditions afflicting more and more people in recent times. It is important to understand that there are several different causes for hair fall apart from male and female pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia that commonly occurs with age and can be hereditary. It is often difficult to pinpoint the other triggers for hair fall and alopecia. The cause may be as glaring as hormonal diseases such as thyroid disorders and polycystic ovarian disease or as implicit as nutritional deficiency and stress.

The best way to understand what is wrong with your hair is to first understand hair. Hair is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the skin. Every person has about one lakh strands of hair on the head, and these may decrease with age as we grow older. However, hair strands in different people can be distinctive. People genetically blessed with thicker strands of hair enjoy a thicker look; their 1 lakh strands seem to look like double the amount. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for those with thinner individual strands.

Hair experiences three main cycles: growing phase (anagen), resting phase (catagen) and shedding phase (telogen). Each hair grows for about two to six years, growing one centimeter a month. Then it rests for about a week, after which it sheds. Many women feel their hair growth is stagnant because their hair is genetically predisposed to only grow for about two years.

Alopecia can be due to several different causes and often it requires detailed history taking and investigations like scalp biopsy to find out the exact cause. Alopecia can be localized affecting only a small area of the scalp or diffuse with involvement of the entire scalp.