Understanding Hair Loss

Many conditions, diseases, and improper hair care result in excessive hair loss. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out, should consult a dermatologist. With the correct diagnosis, most people with hair loss can be helped.

At Venkat Center, we evaluate a patient’s hair problem by asking questions about diet, medications including vitamins and health food taken in the last six months, family history of hair loss, recent illness and hair care habits. Hormonal effects may be evaluated in women by asking about menstrual cycles, pregnancies, and menopause. The questionnaire that we ask is attached.

After examining the scalp and hair, we also may check a few hairs under the microscope. Other investigations that are performed include trichoscan and trichogram. Trichoscan or hair scan is done to assess the density, type of units, weakness in the roots, assess the number of miniature hairs and response to treatment. A trichoscan or hair scan is a simple test to detect miniaturization, and thereby estimate whether there is likely possibility of permanent baldness. It takes only 10 minutes to perform.

Sometimes blood tests or a scalp biopsy may be required for an accurate diagnosis. It’s important to find the cause and whether or not the problem will respond to medical treatment.

Temporary Hair Loss

Emotional turmoil, medications, skin conditions, surgery, childbirth, poor nutrition, and illnesses can cause hair follicles to enter the telogen phase prematurely, resulting in increased shedding which presents itself as temporary diffuse thinning.

Among the many medical conditions that can cause hair loss, the most common ones are:

  • Anemia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Other endocrine problems (especially those that produce excess androgens)
  • Gynecological conditions – such as ovarian tumors • Connective tissue disease (such as Lupus)
  • Surgical procedures and general anesthesia
  • Rapid weight loss or crash diets that are not nutritionally balanced
  • Severe emotional stress
  • Drugs such as oral contraceptives, thyroid medication, blood pressure medication (such as beta-blockers or water pills), “mood” medication such as lithium, Prozac, or tricyclic antidepressants, blood thinners such as heparin or coumadin, cholesterol-lowering medication. The treatment of all these medical causes of hair loss(which never cause total baldness) is that of the underlying cause.

Localized Hair Loss

Localized hair loss may be sub-divided into scarring and non-scarring types. Alopecia Areata is a genetic, auto-immune disease that typifies the non-scarring type. It manifests itself with the sudden onset of round patches of hair loss associated with normal skin and can be treated with local injections of Cortico-steroids. Fungal infections can cause hair loss in children. Scarring Alopecia can be caused by a variety of medical or dermatological conditions such as Lupus and Lichen Planus, or local radiation therapy. Baldness from injuries, or from local medical problems that have been cured, is usually amenable to hair transplantation.

Traction Alopecia is the hair loss that occurs with constant tugging on the hair, in some beauty treatments. Contrary to popular belief, dandruff usually does not cause hair loss. Likewise, type of water, frequent shampooing, oiling the scalp do not affect hair growth at all. Various shampoos which claim to make the hair grow have no basis.

TIPS FOR HAIR CARE- FAQs, & DOs and DONTs

  1. Does shampoo/soap nut powder cause hair loss? Shampooing/soap nut powder do not cause hair growth or hair loss. Cleanse the hair regularly (at least twice a week) by using a shampoo. Don’t use soaps to wash the hair as they make the hair dry & susceptible to breakage. Shampoos are used only to cleanse the hairs and make them manageable. Any shampoo that suits you is ok.
  2. Don’t manipulate your hair too much with cosmetic products.
  3. Don’t comb the hair when wet as it can cause hair shaft damage.
  4. Which oil to use for my hair? Oiling the hair does not cause hair growth, oil acts as a conditioner for the hair, and make it look shiny and also easy to manage, & avoids split ends, thus oiling the hair is only for grooming & not for growing. There is no particular oil that is specifically prescribed for hair as all oils do the same job.
  5. Allow hair to air dry in the sun, avoid hot hair dryer, because heat causes hair shaft damage.
  6. Will long hair cause hair loss? No. Long hair doesn’t fall more than regular hair.
  7. Use a wide-toothed comb with blunt bristles as it avoids friction between the hairs & the comb bristles.
  8. Don’t tie the hairs very tight as it can cause tractional alopecia.
  9. Protect your hair from environmental assaults like dust, wind & pollution– they make the hair dry.
  10. Does dandruff cause hair loss? No. Dandruff, helmet do not cause hair loss.
  11. Does shaving the head increase hair growth. No. shaving the head does not increase hair growth.
  12. Remember; all of us have a normal hair loss up to 50 hairs a day – this does not need treatment.
  13. Most hair loss is temporary hair loss – which can be fully treated.
  14. Does smoking cause hair loss? Yes. Smoking can increase hair loss due to decreased blood flow to the hair roots.
  15. Does exercise help hair growth? Yes. Daily aerobics may help to reduce hair loss. However, muscle build exercise may increase hair loss.
  16. Which food to avoid? Foods like chocolates, pastries, red meat, bakery foods, Chinese food rich in Ajinomoto, soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, can all increase free radical levels in the body and affect hair growth & cause increased hair loss.
  17. Which food to prefer for healthy hair? Foods rich in sprouts, green leafy vegetables, salads, fresh fruits, pulses and plenty of water all help in giving healthy & glowing hair.
  18. Does hard water cause hair loss? Hard water contains minerals which accumulate of hair shaft leading to the colouring of hair and breakage. However, hard water does not affect roots.

Instructions for shampooing the hair

Apply an adequate amount of shampoo on to the wet scalp and work out the lather. Leave the lather on scalp for 5–10 mins and then wash thoroughly with water. Shampoo the hair twice a week.

Instructions for conditioning the hair

Conditioner moistens the hair, and makes them soft, and are applied after the shampoo; apply conditioner for a few minutes and then rinse.

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About The Doctor

Dr. Venkataram Mysore was one of the first surgeons to learn this technique in the country. He is an expert in FUT and is one of the most respected Hair Transplant experts in the world. He has edited the first Indian textbook on the subject and is the first and only Indian Dermatologist to be made a fellow of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons.

Dr. Venkat being presented with the ILDS Leadership award by Professor Ocampo Candiani

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