As someone once said, “hair doesn’t make the woman but good hair definitely helps...
15 July 2019| Last updated on 15 July 2019
Hair woes are some of the commonest reasons for a dermatology consult.
Most patients find it distressing and demoralising. However, hair often responds very quickly to the right treatment.
Why is my hair falling?
Even though popular literature allows shedding of around 100 scalp hairs daily in an individual as a normal phenomenon, this is usually a ballpark figure. If you notice more than usual hair fall, it might be time to see a doctor.
Traditionally men suffer more from alopecia due to a combination of hormones and genetic factors. This results in a typical patterned baldness where a man loses hair from the crown and the temples first. This is called androgenic alopecia. Women are not immune to this although it’s often harder to identify hormonal factors at play. Nevertheless androgenic alopecia in women is quite responsive to a variety of treatments.
One of the commonest causes for hair fall is called telogen effluvium. This just means that the hair fall has been triggered by a stressful situation in your life. In the language of your body, this could translate to a major traumatic event, an accident, or even something as normal as a pregnancy or an examination.
Other common causes of hair fall include medical issues such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian disease and chronic anaemia. A lot of medications like isotretinoin and antihypertensives are known to cause hair loss as well.
Is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce hair fall?
Hair, at the end of the day, is keratin - a protein. A well-balanced meal goes a long way to correcting minor hair problems. That is often why you notice excessive hair fall after crash diets, weight loss surgeries and prolonged illness.
Many other essential vitamins and minerals like biotin, calcium pantothenate and selenium help hair grow better and healthier. This is provided, of course, you have no underlying hormonal issues. If you do, they need to be corrected first.
Sometimes, especially in androgenic alopecia, you might need to use medicated scalp lotions like minoxidil. In men, certain pills that counter the hormone- induced hair fall, are very effective.
Any hair care tips?
- Be gentle on hair
- Wash hair with cool water
- Brush out your locks before you sleep. Scarlett O’Hara was not far off the mark with her hair care routine
- The less hair products you use, the better. Using a mild shampoo or a two-in one is often gentler to your hair than using a shampoo and a conditioner separately
There are hundreds of hair ‘treatments’ offered at salons, ranging from deep conditioning to keratin therapies. None of this has a shred of peer-reviewed scientific study supporting it. This makes it a hazard best avoided. Not surprisingly, quite a few patients I see, come with complaints that the hair loss started after a hair treatment they took. Most chemicals used in straightening or perming are designed to interfere with the basic structure of the hair strand. This weakens and damages the hair leading to significant hair problems. Hot iron straighteners are again meant to be used with caution and avoided if possible.
Can you help?
Of course, that’s our job! Yes, the dermatologist and the hair surgeon can certainly help.
There are many treatments with sound scientific evidence that help restore and correct hair fall. Again, within reason. Many times, you might need to continue medication for prolonged periods especially if there is a strong genetic or hormonal component to the hair problem.
Platelet rich plasma therapies, if done with quality equipment and the right technique, give very positive results. Hair transplants have been an important treatment for many years. They are definitely the solution especially in people who don’t mind a surgical alternative. Stem cells injections have also given promising results.
Hope is not lost! A good dermatologist can identify and help correct your hair problems. The only thing required is patience and consistency in following treatment.
Have reasonable expectations, and you should be very happy with the results. For appointments call 04 282 7788, 04 701 6888 or 04 605 5999.
Authored by Dr. Betsy Narayan
Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, Mediclinic Mirdif and Mediclinic Deira
Dr. Betsy Narayan