If you have noticed a little bulge or nodules in your hair shafts, chances are that you are suffering from Trichorrhexis nodosa. These are weak points in the hair at which it tends to break easily. It is a common occurrence. Since the hair tends to break at the bulges it leads to hair loss and alopecia, hence it must be treated as soon as it is noticed.
If you have excessive hair breakage, you can check your hair for this condition: simply feel the hair between two fingers. Normally the hair should be smooth but if you feel any bulge, you can be certain of this condition. The bulge or the node in the hair tends to be weak and brittle and the hair breaks at that point. The nodes may have a white or yellow look and are distributed on the hair all over the scalp.
Trichorrhexis nodosa can be of two types: the first is hereditary and passed on by the parents’genes. In such cases, it can be seen in infants or may occur later in life. The second type – and the more common one – is acquired Trichorrhexis nodosa, in which the disease occurs when the body and the hair go through some kind of stress. Physical stress occurs if you comb your hair excessively, or use styling methods such as straightening or perming. Combing methods have been known to cause this condition. Physical stress is also caused by subjecting the hair to hot blow-drying, heat treatment and exposure to the sun. Chemical stress occurs in the hair when exposed to repeated salt water, excessive shampooing and bleaching. Use of cosmetics containing chemicals and sprays will also cause stress to the hair shafts. Deficiencies in the body such as those of iron, biotin, vitamins and essential minerals may also lead to this disease. Thyroid or other diseases may also cause this condition to develop.
Though one’s hair is affected by this condition, it is also seen in eyelashes, eyebrows and pubic hair at times. A microscopic examination of the hair shows that the nodes consist of fibres instead of one strand of hair.
The main symptoms of Trichorrhexis nodosa are the nodes in the hair shaft that make it brittle and prone to breaking. Discolouration and white or yellow nodes can be seen on the hair shafts. The hair appears dull and lifeless and cannot grow long. Split ends can be seen on the hair shaft, accompanied by thinning hair, and discoloration at the nodes. An examination will show lacklustre hair that does not grow, easy breakage, thinning hair and split ends and discoloration.
The diagnosis consists of an external examination. Doctors are usually able to diagnose the disease by examining the hair on the patient’s scalp. To confirm, a microscopic examination may also be done. To find out genetic causes, a skin biopsy may be required. Trichoscopy, or dermoscopic imaging of the hair, is also used to diagnose hair disorders.
If the disease is inherited, it has no cure, except to reduce stress on the hair and to keep it well hydrated. Acquired Trichorrhexis nodosa is treated by avoiding stress to the hair along with tackling the underlying causes, which generally helps in controlling it. It is recommended to follow a hair care routine so that it is well nourished and conditioned at all times. Harsh methods such as heat treatments are to be avoided, along with excessive shampooing.
If you see the symptoms of Trichorrhexis nodosa in your hair, do not worry. It is not a dangerous condition and can be cured. All it requires is to treat your hair gently. Avoid perming and styling methods that expose your hair to heat treatment. Protect your hair from the sun and ultraviolet light, and avoid cosmetics containing chemicals. Change your combing method and follow gentle brushing methods. I have always stressed the need to natural drying or using the hair dryer at nomal temperature. Together with regular oiling and a nurturing diet, you should be able to get rid of Trichorrhexis nodosa permanently.