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What’s Alopecia? Understanding & Reversing Your Hair Loss

What is Alopecia? Have you recently noticed your hair falling out or thinning? Perhaps you’ve started to: 

  • Collect clumps of hair from the shower drain 
  • See your scalp in the mirror and photos 
  • Carefully arrange hair to cover thin spots 
  • Lose confidence about how you look 

Alopecia, or hair loss, doesn’t mean you’ve lost all the hair from your head. It takes many forms. And understanding how hair works and what hair loss is can help you figure out what’s going on, why it’s happening, and (often most importantly) what you can do about it. 

If you’ve tried many things, but none of them has seemed to make a difference, then we’re glad you’re here.  

Read to the end when we share a great way to boost your hair loss treatments so you can ditch the rising panic every time you run your fingers through your hair. 

How Does Hair Work? 

Yes, this is the best place to begin. And here’s an interesting piece of trivia, there are only 4 places hair doesn’t grow: 

  • Palms of your hands 
  • Soles of your feet 
  • Lips 
  • Eyelids 

Length and thickness vary depending on where on your body the hair grows. Vellus (meaning fleece or wool in Latin—cute!) is the short, fine hair that grows all over your body. You might know it affectionately as peach fuzz. The hair on your head is often called capillary hair. 

What’s the (Simple) Science? 

Think of each hair just like a plant. The strand has a root made of mostly keratin protein. This is kept in place in the hair follicle by the bulb. Papillary capillaries feed the bulb hormones and growth factors, and this is what makes it grow. The sebaceous (oil) gland lubricates the growing hair so it can reach the skin’s surface. How amazingly intricate is that? 

It’s All About the Follicles 

Truly—follicles are essential to hair growth. You can’t grow hair without them, and if they become dormant, the only way to get more is a transplant. On average, a human has 100,000 follicles on their head, and you can’t grow more. There’s no hair loss treatment that makes new follicles appear or grow.  

Hair Growth Cycle 

So now you know how hair grows, but understanding the phase of hair growth is also essential in understanding your hair loss. There are 3 phases in total. They are: 

  1. Anagen 
  2. Catagen 
  3. Telogen 

Here’s what happens in each. 

Anagen hair growth phase 

When your hair grows, it’s in the anagen phase. That means the cells in the hair bulb are dividing rapidly. You might have noticed you simply can’t grow your hair beyond a certain length. This could be because your hair is in the anagen phase for a shorter period. Typically, hair is in this phase for 2–7 years. If your hair stays in this phase for closer to 7 years, you’ll be able to grow your hair longer. Most of the hair on your head (around 80-90%) is in the anagen phase.​ 

Catagen transitional phase 

After this growing period has ended, your hair enters a transition phase. It stays attached to your head but won’t keep growing. This lasts only 2–3 weeks on average. While if you looked at the hair, it would look like a regular anagen hair, what you can’t see is what’s happening underneath the skin. There the hair detaches from the blood supply. It’s now called a club hair. Each hair undergoes this process at a different time, with only about 3% of your total hairs being club hairs. 

Telogen resting phase 

Your club hairs will continue to stay in place for around 3 months. During this time, new hair is beginning to grow underneath. This is called the telogen phase. Finally, your club hairs fall out, and the new hair pokes through. About 6–8% of your hair is in this stage. 

If you think about a lot of mammals, they shed seasonally. So when it gets warm, a lot of their hair will fall out. We don’t (thankfully!). Each follicle and hair will be up to a different stage at any given time. Shedding approximately 50-100 hairs each day is within what’s considered the average range. 

What is Hair Loss? What is Alopecia? 

microneedling results hair loss

You might have heard the term “alopecia” and wondered if it’s different to hair loss. It’s not. Alopecia is a medical term that describes any form of hair loss. While it’s often talked about as referring to hair on your head, it can also mean hair loss from any part of your body.  

Alopecia causes include: 

  • Hair shedding 
  • Poor quality hair 
  • Hair thinning 

You may have a combination of these, and scalp disease or scarring can make these issues worse. 

Localised vs Diffuse Hair Loss 

Sometimes you may seemingly suddenly notice bald patches appear on your scalp. This is known as localised alopecia, where all the hair in one area is affected. But you may also notice a thinning of hair all over your scalp. This is also alopecia. It’s just that the hair loss affects the entire area evenly. This is called diffuse hair loss. 

Who Experiences Hair Loss? 

The harsh truth is that most of us can probably expect some form of hair loss later in life. This is because our follicles are developed during the foetal growth stage. Inevitably some of those follicles will become dormant with age. Meaning they stop producing hair. Although often thought of as a male problem, hair loss affects both men and women and children as well as adults. However, Androgenetic Alopecia (male pattern baldness) does occur more in men.  

Types of Hair Loss 

If you’ve noticed bald patches or drastically thinning hair and are starting to panic, it may not be permanent. Depending on what triggers alopecia, hair loss can be temporary or permanent.  

There’s no blanket solution hair loss treatment that will work for everyone (sorry!) Most likely, a combination of therapies customised to your type of hair loss is your best chance at growing back your mane. This won’t be the last time we say this, but getting your hair assessed by a professional early is essential. 

More on that later. First, let’s get back to the different phases of hair. This helps you understand your hair loss.  

Anagen Hair Loss 

In some cases, hair is snapped off or tapered while it’s still growing. If you have this type of hair loss, you’ll notice there’s no bulb attached to each of the loose hairs you sweep up. 

Some of the things that may cause alopecia during the anagen phase include: 

  • An auto-immune disease that leads to Alopecia Areata, characterised by patches of hair loss 
  • Medications, in particular, chemotherapy drugs 
  • Congenital reasons, such as loose anagen syndrome  

Telogen Hair Loss 

When hair falls out at this “resting” stage, you’ll see a bulb at the end of the hair shaft. The loss of resting or club hairs is what you probably know as excessive shedding, although it’s also commonly called Telogen Effluvium. If you have a shock to the system, it can cause a majority of your hair to go into this resting phase and fall from your scalp. Telogen Effluvium triggers include: 

  • Pregnancy 
  • Rapid weight loss 
  • Stress 
  • Illness 
  • Medications (including the contraceptive pill, anti-coagulants and anti-convulsants) 

Hair Shaft Abnormalities 

Did you know it could be your hairstyle that’s causing you hair loss? If you wear the same tight hairstyle repetitively or headwear such as hats, scarfs or accessories, the follicular tension can lead to Tractional Alopecia. Again it’s important to catch and reverse this early because if it continues over a longer period, it can lead to scar tissue in the follicles, known as Cicatricial Alopecia. 

Androgenic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness) 

This is one of the most common types of alopecia and occurs in both men and women, although more often in men. And that’s why it’s often called Male Pattern Baldness. 

You might have heard that hormones are to blame, and this is true. The culprit is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It triggers the papillary hair on your head to turn into vellus hair (that peach fuzz we talked about). This is when you want to be talking to someone about your options, as the follicles become dormant soon after. And the only hair loss treatment option for dormant follicles is a transplant.  

How do I know If I Have Androgenic Alopecia? 

The best way to know for sure is to consult a professional. For men, male pattern baldness can begin as early as their 20s and starts with receding hairline on the temples and on the crown of the head. For women, it usually begins in their 40s or 50s and has a different pattern. It tends to thin all over the head, and the hairline doesn’t recede. 

Dermapen 4 Combination Therapy 

hair loss treatment

As we’ve already mentioned, there are some forms of alopecia that will only be successfully reversed with a hair transplant. All other treatments, including Dermapen Treatments™, need follicles to be present to be successful. 

Types of alopecia with follicles that a Dermapen Treatment can help with are 

  • Tractional Alopecia 
  • Cicatricial Alopecia in the early stages: the mechanical action of the needles breaks up the fibrous deposits in the follicles. Once the follicles become dormant, it’s too late. 
  • Androgenetic Alopecia: likewise, this will only work in the early stages with active follicles. 
  • Alopecia Areata  
  • Telogen Effluvium  

These last 2 conditions, Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium need to be stabilised prior to microneedling for it to be effective. 

Dr Andrew R. Christie explains, “For this therapy to work with Androgenic Alopecia and Telogen Effluvium, the condition first needs to be stabilised to work. This addresses the core problem, and this is where some combination therapy may be required. If you have not addressed the source, you won’t see long-lasting results.” 

He continues, “For Telogen Effluvium, patient health, diet, illness and medication all need to be addressed”. 

We really can’t overstate how important it is to consult your Authorised Treatment Provider as soon as you first notice hair loss to have the greatest chance of success. 

Grow Back Your Hair Thicker and Faster 

We mentioned at the start of this article that there was a way to get more out of your hair loss treatments, and that’s with the Dermapen 4™. This is a market-leading microneedling device exclusively used by trained Authorised Treatment Providers. 

Dermapen Treatments for Hair Loss Work in 3 Ways 

DermapenWorld is known for its synergy of solutions. Everything we create is designed to work with the products in our range, your skin, and even other treatments. So, let’s dive into the 3 different ways Dermapen Treatments increase the chances of thick luscious hair regrowth. 

  1. As part of a controlled inflammatory response, angiogenesis is stimulated. This helps create a stronger network of capillaries that feed the hair.
  2. The mechanical action of the needle can help release and breakdown of scar tissue for Cicatricial Alopecia
  3. The traditional way to deliver mesotherapy and PRP into the skin is point-by-point with a needle. In comparison, the Dermapen 4™ increases the infusion, distribution, and saturation of these restorative solutions.

You can clearly see that you’re giving your hair the best chance at renewal by incorporating microneedling as part of your hair loss plan. 

What’s Meso-therapy? 

Essentially this is the use of microneedling to deliver solutions deeper into the skin for greater results than simply applying it on top of the skin. This is important and effective for a wide range of skin concerns, but especially for hair loss. 

The needles need to reach the hypodermic capillaries, as they allow for the delivery of nutrients, growth factors and hormones that stimulate hair growth. You need consistent and precise penetration, which is what the ultra-sharp, strong, and fine needle cartridge delivers. The rapidly oscillating needles need to penetrate deep into the skin to be effective for hair loss. 

The Dermapen 4 creates 1920 micro-channels in the hypodermis per second. It’s a fast, effective, and virtually painless part of your combination hair loss treatment. 

hair loss before & after

hair loss before & after 2

hair loss before & after 3

What’s a Combination Treatment for Hair Loss? 

That simply means that a Dermapen Treatment™ will be used as part of a more holistic treatment plan that may also include prescription or over the counter medications and mesotherapy or PRP infusions. These products may be squirted onto your head by your Authorised Treatment Provider before needled in, or you may be advised to take them separately.  

Is There Anything Else I Can Do? 

Yes! And kudos to you for recognising that the more you do to minimise your hair loss, the better your chance of returning to “wow, it’s so thick” hair. There are a couple of extra easy things you can do. 

Red LED 630nm light therapy for hair loss 

which hair loss_treatment is best

First up, you can use the Dp Dermaceuticals L.E.D. HAND with its 2 complementary wavelengths, Red (630nm) and Near Infrared (830nm), to further stimulate angiogenesis. Don’t let the HAND in the name put you off; this mask can be used all over the body. Moving it around the scalp for a regular 10-minute dose of hair-boosting light. 

Adjust your hairstyles 

Do you always wear your hair pulled back into a tight ponytail? Perhaps you wear headwear for religious or cultural reasons. Consistently wearing your hair, accessories, headwear and hats in the same position can lead to Tractional and Cicatricial Alopecia. It can make a real difference to continually adjust any hairstyles, headwear, or extensions. This will help reduce the tension that leads to snapped hair. 

Take Action Today 

From changing up your hairstyle to medication and microneedling, there’s plenty you can do to reduce your hair loss. The key is to start exploring what’s going on with your hair early before your follicles become dormant. Don’t put off seeing your Authorised Treatment Provider until it’s too late. If you’re concerned about your hair loss, now is the right time to act. Tomorrow could be too late. 

If you are a professional and wish to learn how to become a DermapenWorld Authorised Treatment Provider, click here.