Hair Loss – Remedies for the Treatment of Hair Loss
Aclump of hair in the shower drain or scattered .on the pillowcase can alarm anyone. For many folks, their mane is their crowning glory. When they’re having a “good hair day,” it adds extra zip their step. So anytime it looks like they may be losing their locks, they’re not happy.
In reality, it’s normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day. That’s generally not a problem, since the typical head of hair has about 100,000 hairs. It’s simply part of the shedding phase that all hair goes through. Hair first goes through a growth stage, which lasts anywhere from months to ears. “Women with very long hair have long growing phases. It’s not an acquired trait; either you have it or you don’t,” says Alvin Solomon, M.D., associate professor of dermatology and pathology at Emory University School of medicine in Atlanta. Hair then moves into a resting phase for about three months. Finally, the shedding phase occurs, and the whole cycle starts over again with a new hair.
By far, the most common cause of hair loss for both men and women is pattern balding. In men, this hereditary condition affects the front and/or top of the head. “All men undergo this to some degree,” says Douglas Altchek, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai school of Medicine in New York. Pattern hair loss and women isn’t generally as severe as it is in men, and it’s more diffuse, with the thinnest patches of hair usually at the top of the head. Still, the number of women with pattern balding is “much more than most people think,” says Solomon. While there is no cure for pattern balding, there are treatments available (see “Help for Pattern Balding”).
Hair loss does occur for other reasons, some of which you can have control over if you know about them. In most of these instances, the hair loss is temporary, although you may have to wait six to eight months after the precipitating cause has been removed before you see the growth begin again. The following tips can help you prevent some of other situations that can cause hair loss:
Stay healthy. Easier said than done sometimes, but a whole host of diseases may have the unfortunate result of causing hair loss. “These diseases may have the effect of shortening or interrupting the growth phase of the hair cycle,” says Marty Sawaya, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology and biochemistry at the State University of New York at Brooklyn. Illnesses as diverse as measles, thyroid disease, lupus, pneumonia, anemia, diabetes, syphilis, polycystic ovaries, and tumors on the adrenal gland may all produce hair loss.
Watch your medications. “Literally hundreds of different medications can cause hair loss,” says Solomon. Chemotherapeutic drugs (medications used in the treatment of cancer) certainly affect the hair, but the list of offenders also includes some birth control pills, high blood pressure medications, certain types of steroids, diuretics, antidepressants, and even aspirin when taken chronically. Whether you will be affected by your medication in this way depends on your own sensitivity. Check with your doctor to see if the medications you are taking are associated with hair loss and whether there are alternative medications available, suggests Altchek. However, do not stop taking any prescription medication without first talking to your doctor about it.
Eat a balanced diet. People who eat a very-lowprotein or iron-deficient diet run the risk of shedding more than normal amounts of hair. This can happen, for instance, when someone eats a poor diet or tries crash dieting. This holds true especially for women. “We don’t understand it fully, but some investigators have been finding that in women, iron and iron metabolism have an effect on the hair cycle,” says Sawaya. On the other hand, going overboard with certain vitamins can harm hair, too. Taking Vitamin A or D in excess can cause hair loss. “People who are taking the socalled megavitamin regime should be very careful,” warns Altchek.
Keep calm. Severe stress or a traumatic event like a death in the family can bring about heavy shedding of the hair. But moderate stress can leave its mark on your mane as well. “Gradual hair loss or thinning of the hair can be brought on by constant, low-grade stress,” says Altchek. Try to find a way to cope with stress and minimize its effects on your health-and your hair. Do whatever works for you, whether it’s exercising, practicing meditation or some form of relaxation technique, or making time for a hobby.
Don’t overprocess or overstyle your hair. We do many things to our hair to make it look beautiful, but some of them may not be good for our tresses. Cornrowing, tight braiding, bleaching, teasing, chemically straightening, and using hot rollers or hot combs can all cause hair breakage. “The rule of thumb here is the less you do to your scalp, the better,” advises Altchek. Whoever told women to brush their hair 100 times a night gave them “the worst possible advice,” he says. If you can’t forgo the styling and processing altogether, at least try to space them out a bit and give your hair a break from these treatments whenever possible.
Check out your supplements. Selenium supplements taken in excess and foreign herbs that contain heavy metals can cause hair loss. If you are taking any such supplement and notice hair loss, discontinue the supplement and see your doctor to be sure that the supplement has not caused other complications that may not be as readily apparent as the hair loss.
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