Few things are more distressing than hair loss for both men and women. Sometimes there is no specific explanation for this condition and it can strike at any time. Alopecia is the condition where a person begins losing his or her hair. This condition can affect a small patch of hair or the entire head. Although the cause behind alopecia is unknown, some health care professionals believe it is the result of a stressful event. Sometimes the hair will fall out in patches over a short period of time, but other alopecia victims lose all of their hair virtually overnight. Often the hair will grow back in a few weeks, but in the case of alopecia totalis, re-growth of the hair is highly unlikely.
Causes of Hair Loss
The human scalp is constantly shedding its hairs, but the amount of hair loss varies over certain periods of time due to a variety of factors. Stress is the most common factor, but by far is not the only one. Age and disease also play a role in baldness, but heredity can also be at play.
Dieting and poor nutrition can be the cause of hair loss. Pregnancy affects hair growth as well, and many women experience significant hair loss in the weeks after childbirth.
Chemotherapy treatment which is given for cancer is also a cause of very severe hair loss.
A lesser known cause of hair loss is trichotillomania, which is self-inflicted and is common in children.
Symptoms of Hair Loss
Sudden loss of the hair resulting in baldness or near baldness.
How Hair Loss is Diagnosed
The first step is to identify the type of hair loss so a proper treatment plan can be initiated. Perhaps the most common form of baldness is male pattern hair loss, which is hormonal. It is dependent on androgens and can happen to both men and women. Age and genetic makeup also play a role in hair loss. Emotional distress can cause hair loss, as well as fungal infections such as ringworm. These types are easy to diagnosis.
Hair Loss Treatment
A drug called finasteride can be used to treat hair loss in men and women, but pregnant women should not use this drug as it is a hormone modifier and can affect the fetus. Another drug for hair loss is minoxidil, which is used as a lotion and is available over the counter. This should be applied to the scalp twice a day and should be used only by men.
Surgical techniques which can be used for baldness include hair transplants to permanently restore the hair. This is expensive and requires several sessions. Another surgical procedure is called scalp reduction, and involves reducing the area of bald skin. The procedure is repeated until the hair margins come together or the tissue of the scalp becomes too thin to continue treatment.
For episodes of trichotillomania, the condition is treated with understanding and discussion. Sometimes it is possible for parents to distract the child when they are pulling out their hair to avoid hair loss. This condition is sometimes associated with obsessive compulsive disease, which can benefit from psychotherapy.
Alopecia can be treated with steroid injections and topical cream. To treat “traction” hair loss, try styling in a different manner until re-growth occurs.
Because some hair loss can be caused by poor nutrition, try eating a well-balanced diet which includes fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes and quality protein, whole grains, lean chicken and beans. Be sure to consume lots of green, leafy vegetables as these provide a good base of nutrients which are known to be required for hair growth. Other foods to include are nuts, brewer’s yeast, oats and brown rice. Figs, berries and blackstrap molasses help ensure healthy growth of hair.
Alternative health care practitioners believe people fighting baldness should eat foods which nourish the blood. They include red adzuki beans, black beans, radishes, spinach, carrots, fish and black sesame seeds. Foods which are cooling that should be eaten include watermelon, green vegetables, tofu, and Chinese jujube dates.
Current research shows that palmetto is effective against hair loss in men, probably because it balances a metabolite of testosterone that contributes to men’s hair loss. Take 320 mg of an 85 percent liposterolic extract daily. Avoid hot or spicy foods such as chilli pepper, beef, lamb and garlic.
Supplements which can be utilized for hair loss include biotin, approximately 3,000 mcg a day. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, which is essential for healthy hair. Take 2,000 mcg of vitamin C per day for healthier hair. Take 50 mcg of B-complex vitamins daily to ensure healthy hair growth. Taking 500 mg of silica a day will also ensure healthier hair.
Essential oils to try include mixing 5 drops of rosemary, thyme, cedarwood and lavender in shampoo and massage the head with it for 10 minutes every night. This mixture helps to increase circulation to the head.
To use the principles of acupressure, take the five fingers on one hand and use them like a comb to rake them across the scalp two or three times per day. This promotes circulation and hair growth. Or press on the scalp with medium pressure 10 times for 5 to 10 minutes before bedtime.
Prevention of Hair Loss
One of the best ways to keep the hair healthy is to minimize or completely avoid the use of strong chemicals such as hair dye, and limit the use of hair dryers and other hair styling tools. Eating a healthy diet which includes lots of leafy greens is also beneficial.
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- Servan-Schreiber, D. The Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional & Alternative Medicine For All Ages, Rodale International Limited (2006)
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