Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Hair is made in tiny pouches in the skin called hair follicles. Each scalp hair has a normal 'life cycle'. Most scalp hairs last about three years and grow about 1 cm a month. After a period of time (about three years), each hair on the scalp comes to the end of its life and falls out. The hair follicle rests for a short while. It then starts to make a new hair.
All the hairs on the scalp are at different stages in their life cycle. At any one time about 1 in 100 scalp hairs are at the end of their life ready to fall out. This is why you will commonly find a few hairs on your shoulders, and some hairs fall out each time you wash your hair.
Anagen effluvium is the sudden hair loss which occurs as a result of chemicals or radiation, such as the hair loss that results during certain types of chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Anagen effluvium can be acute or chronic. When the shedding lasts more than six months or persistently recurs, it is referred to as a chronic anagen effluvium. Chronic anagen effluviums have been reported mainly in women. No racial predilection exists. Although anagen effluvium can affect hair on all parts of the body, generally, only loss of scalp hair is symptomatic.
In anagen effluvium the hair does not enter a resting stage as is does with telogen effluvium. The hair loss is usually sudden occurring 1 to 3 weeks after expose to the chemicals or radiation has occurred. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments are the most common causes of anagen effluvium. However exposure to toxic chemicals such as thallium and arsenic may also produce a sudden loss of hair.
Other causes of anagen effluvium include illness, major physical trauma, menopause, crash diets, severe psychological stress, major surgery (especially with general anesthesia), hypo- or hyperthyroidism, anemia's, acute and severe blood loss, heavy metal poisoning, etc.
There are many potential causes that can provoke anagen effluvium, but the most common are:
Defects in the production of hormones: Anagen effluvium may be associated with hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, Cushing's Syndrome and, occasionally, juvenile diabetes.
Nutrient deficiency: Extreme deficiency of copper, iron, zinc, biotin, essential fatty acids, or vitamin C in the diet.
Treatment against cancer: Chemotherapy.
Ionising Radiation: X rays and gamma rays.
Toxic agents: Thallium, arsenic, bismuth.
Hereditary genetic disease: Pollitt Syndrome, hypotrichosis type.
The exact prevalence is not known and getting accurate statistics would be very difficult, but the condition is quite common. Anagen effluvium can occur at any age. It is likely that most adults have experienced an episode of anagen effluvium at some point in their lives and, unbeknownst to most people, everybody has experienced the phenomenon early in life. In fact, mothers have been more aware of anagen effluviums in newborns and babies than most doctors have ever been.
Anagen effluvium caused by chemotherapy is only a temporary condition and in most cases hair growth will return to normal once treatment is finished. Many people even claim that their hair grows back healthier and thicker than before. Sometimes when the hair grows back the texture can be different. Some people who have had curly hair have claimed that their hair has grown back straight and sometimes even the color can become different.
If you have anagen effluvium, a lot of hairs fall out from your scalp. This is more than normal and most noticeable when you wash your hair. However, your scalp and the remaining hair look healthy. You will not have patches of hair loss (bald patches), but rather a generalized thinning.
The diagnosis is confirmed by examining the amount and type of fallen hair. Hair loss usuallyexceeds 100 hairs a day and more than 20% are bulbed. The scalp should look normal, nocompletely bald spots should be present and the thinning should not be dramatic over the top ofthe head which is more common in male pattern balding (also called androgenetic hair loss).Occasionally iron and thyroid tests are performed to rule out an underlying disease but they areusually normal.
There is no specific treatment other than stopping any meds that have been implicated and maintaining reasonable nutrition. The best treatment for anagen effluvium is determining the aetiological agent that began this type of baldness and taking the corresponding therapeutic measures. Once achieved, the hair will grow again and we will recover the appearance we had prior to the hair disorder.
It is usual for anagen effluvium to go on for months. Then the anagen-growth phase spontaneously kicks in, restoring most of your hair density.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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