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Ordinarily, hair grows in cycles. At any given time, most of the hair in the human scalp is engaged in a process of growth that can last for several years. The remaining hair is 'resting,' a phase which lasts for a few months, after which the hair falls out. This mild shedding, which may amount to as many as 100 hairs per day, is normal. The hair will be replaced by new follicles that will grow for several years themselves before falling out.

However, when the hairline starts to recede, when hair refuses to fill into particular spots, or when hair begins to come out in large clumps, there is something else at work. Genetic pattern baldness, unhealthy habits, or disease may be causing abnormal hair loss, and treatment may be able to help.

What are the different types of hair loss?

Hair loss can result from a number of causes. These include genetics, improper hair care, pregnancy, diet, disease, illness, and cancer treatment.

Male or female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) - Male pattern baldness is marked by thinning hair at the crown and near the forehead. Unheeded, it can eventually eliminate all of the hair on top of the head. Female pattern baldness results in overall thinning of the hair. Pattern baldness can be inherited from either side of the family.

Hair care practices - Hair care practices that can cause hair loss include excessive brushing or combing; hairstyles, such as braids or ponytails, that pull at the hair; and overuse of chemical treatments, such as dyes and bleaches.

Pregnancy - Excessive hair loss often affects women immediately following pregnancy. Abnormal amounts of the mother's hair can stop growing and fall out. New follicles will begin to grow in one to six months.

How is hair loss treated?

Some types of hair loss can be reversed with the discontinuation of a behavior, a change in diet, or the return to health after illness. Pattern baldness, on the other hand, is irreversible without treatment. Fortunately, treatments are available, in the form of both medication.

Surgical treatments are primarily designed for the treatment of male pattern baldness, though in some cases women can also benefit from them. They include hair transplantation, flap surgery, tissue expansion, and scalp reduction.

Scalp reduction involves the removal of bald skin around the crown of the head and the subsequent stretching of adjacent hair-bearing scalp to cover the area. Sutures hold the stretched skin in place while it acclimates to its new position. Scalp reduction is often used in conjunction with flap surgery to cover a bald crown.

If you are interested in hair loss treatment, you may want to contact a hair loss specialist for more information.