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Nuances of hair care

THANK YOU for all your responses for the article on Hair Care. I was happy to get a lot of e-mails from many men. Nearly all queries were related to hair loss. I have tried to cover all aspects of hair loss and do hope you will find answers to your questions.

Dealing with hair loss

Nothing alarms a person more than to be confronted with the problem of undue hairloss. Hair has a life cycle. Every hair that grows must fall after its life cycle and new hair will grow in the same place.

There is a natural balance between the rate at which hair falls and the rate at which new hair grows. Now-a-days, excess loss of hair is very common. It can be triggered by a number of factors such as emotional and physical stress of city life, local scalp infection, adverse drug reaction, hormonal imbalances during teenage, pregnancy and menopause and effect of chemical treatments on hair like perms, colours, straightening, excessive stretching and pulling (blow drys), exposure to extreme heat for long periods, regular use of hot or ordinary rollers.

Factors that determine hair loss:

Research has shown that hair fall is related to the rate of hair growth, length of hair, age and even colour of hair .

It is normal to shed from 50-80 strands of hair a day. It is normal for each of those hair to be replaced by the hard working follicles. At any given time, about 90 per cent of the hair is in the growing stage. Hair fall occurs mostly in the morning. This fact remains unexplained.

The length of hair is also an important factor in hair loss; the longer the hair, the less is the hair loss. Hair grows on an average of 6 inches a year. Apart from day-to-day loss, we shed more than usual hair during six periods of our life: from birth to 3 years; 10 years - before puberty; 22 years; 26 years; 36 years and 44 years.

This happens due to hormonal changes that occur in our bodies during these periods in our lives.

The maximum hair growth occurs between the ages of 15 and 30.

Causes for excess hair fall:

An unnatural excess hair fall, temporary or permanent is called Alopecia. There are various types and patterns of Alopecia:

*Alopecia Totalis is complete baldness.

*Alopecia Areater is the name given to baldness in circular areas. It is common on the scalp and is usually due to fungal infection.

*Male Pattern Alopecia is the most common form of hair loss. Hair recedes at the temples, spreading to the top of the scalp.

The rate of progression varies individually. It is common during the 20's for men and later years for women. Its cause is mainly hereditary; however, hormonal imbalance can also be the cause, especially the androgen hormone levels. Age is also one of the contributing factors.

*Alopecia Traction is the hair loss due to excessive pulling. Eg. Plucking, rolling, brushing, perming and hair straightening.

Causes for excess hair fall:

Hereditary - The kind of hair we have - whether it is thick, thin, fine, sparse, straight or curly, depends a great deal on the genes inherited. The problems concerning hair loss are also passed on from the parents to the offsprings. Diabetes and thyroid disorders are two real threats to healthy hair.

Trauma - The result of physical stress on hair is called Traction Alopecia. This can be caused by tying the hair in too tight in the form of a ponytail, pigtail or topknot. The prolonged and continuing pull-like pressure on the hair can result in spot baldness.

Spot baldness can also be caused due to a trauma or sudden shock experienced. A severe blow to the head may lead to spot baldness where the blow is received.

Local Scalp Infections - Bacterial, viral or fungal infections can cause spot fall. It can, however, be treated with lotions, medicine, ointment etc.

Diseases - Internal disorders and infections which cause high fever such as flu, pneumonia and typhoid are often accompanied by excessive hair loss.

Chemicals or drugs - Excessive use of antibiotics and drugs like cortisone lead to hair loss. Chemical therapies given in serious diseases such as cancer, cause excess hair fall and can lead to baldness also.

Emotional or environmental stress - Pressures of life and worry can lead to excess hair loss. Due to tension, the muscles in the scalp and neck constrict thereby impeding blood circulation, resulting in suffocation of hair follicles.

Hormonal imbalances and hair loss - Hormonal imbalances are the primary cause of hair fall, especially during pregnancy, menopause and when a woman is using birth control pills.

Pregnancy - Generally the hair condition and growth improves during this period and the hair will look thicker and healthier - this is because the endocrine glands function at their peak. Hair loss occurs only after the birth of the baby. This happens due to the irregularity in the functioning of the thyroid glands. Hair loss occurs four months after the child birth and continues for about two months.

Menopause - This is the period in which the production of Estrogen slows down. This results in weak, dry hair. This is also the period of emotional stress; therefore, most women experience hair fall.

How to prevent excess hair fall:

*If you find that you are losing more hair than normal or have any other problem, you should seek professional help. In most cases, it can be controlled with specific treatment.

*To identify the cause of hair loss, a general medical examination should be your first priority so that problems like iron deficiency, thyroid or hormonal imbalances, scalp disease and so on can be identified.

*Stop all procedures that may be causing physical damage or trauma like perming, bleaching, chemical dying, excessive use of hair dryers, brushes, rubber bands and so on.

*Excess hair fall occurs mostly when the hair condition is extremely dry, rough and damaged. Conditioning and nourishing the hair are, therefore necessary.

*A number of ayurvedic and patented preparations are available in the market specifically to prevent hair loss. Use any of these but only after making sure that it is made by a reputed company.

*Massage is a very important element of scalp treatment to control excess hair fall. Massage helps

- to release the tension in scalp muscles.

- to increase the blood circulation giving hair an increased supply of nutrition and oxygen for healthy hair.

- to stimulate the dormant hair follicles, for fresh growth of hair.

- massage should be done slowly with the right pressure. Vigorous massage may lead to more hair loss.

- clinical treatment consists of procedures that help stimulate the hair follicles by using an electric gadget called the high frequency.

(To be continued)


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