R. Sujatha

CHENNAI: There has been a steady increase in the number of patients coming to government hospitals seeking advice and treatment options for hair loss.

Dermatologists at the hospitals attribute it to increased emphasis on appearance and the plethora of advertisements promising cure. At Government Stanley Hospital's Dermatology Department, at least five to 10 patients come every month for advice on hair transplantation procedures, says its head K. Manoharan.

“We conduct a range of investigations on those who come complaining of hair fall. It could be due to various reasons such as tonsillitis, stress or dental caries. The most common cause of hair loss is stress and tension,” Dr. Manoharan says.

D. Prabhavathi, attached to the Government General Hospital, says the hospital has been seeing more such patients than before. Many of them are young, she says, attributing hair loss to changing lifestyles.

“The work pattern and stress, working late nights have meant that the circadian rhythm is altered, increasing chances of hair loss,” she says. Though the number of people seeking treatment has increased, dermatologists are unable to help all of them because for many of the patients the condition is inherited. They are counselled and advised to accept the genetic baggage, Dr. Prabhavathi says.

“Youngsters have the money and want to go for transplantation or hair fixing. But we advise them against it. Some amount of hair loss is a normal, physiological process. A person normally loses about 80 to 100 strands a day. Only when it is over 125 or 130, it requires attention,” she explains.

Male baldness is, to some extent, treatable but such exercises are ruled out in women, doctors say. “You have to take many things into consideration. Anyway, you can only postpone baldness by some years,” Dr. Prabhavathi says.

Though those who require hair transplant treatment are referred to plastic surgeons after counselling, even young dermatologists say such procedures are not done for cosmetic benefits.