25 Aug 2014

Tips On Hair Loss


So me and a very good friend (you know who you are lol) recently had a deep discussion about hair loss, in particular Hair thinning which occurs all over the head as opposed to the patterned baldness that occurs in men. However any guys who do happen to read this will still benefit from some of the tips I have to offer.

Disclaimer,
I am not a professional dermatologist but the information that I have gathered into this blog has been sourced mostly from scientific journals, scientific news pages and a little from personal experience/curly-girl hair obsessing :)

This post has turned out to be very long so I'm going to split it up into sections with headings:

Section 1..........Why is hair so important?

Section 2..........Hair growth and Loss

Section 3..........Causes of Hair loss

Section 4..........Tips on Dealing with Hair Loss


Why is hair so important?

Most of us girlies want to grow long luscious locks and sometimes we go to through a lot of trouble to look after our hair. But why??....

At the end of the day it's just a bit of protein (keratin mostly) hanging from your scalp but in most ancient cultures, and even today, long shiny thick hair is a sign of beauty, health, and even fertility. Us humans are visual creatures, men especially, and it can't be helped because it's hard-wired into our biological blueprint to judge by appearances. When meeting/seeing someone new the first thing we subconsciously notice is usually their face and afterwards their hair but sometimes it's the other way around.

If our hair is what sets the first impressions to other people of our health, beauty and fertility then it's easy to see why to so many women (and men) that making sure their hair looks good can become a big priority.

I have inserted quite a few pictures of what looks like the Indian retelling of Rapunzel but the Brother's Grimm version of Rapunzel is actually very similar to the Persian tale of Rudaba who let down her hair to meet Her Lover Zal.

In this post I will briefly address the topic of Asian hair loss as it is quite distinct from hair loss in other races.

This reason alone has given me enough of an excuse to include pictures of a south Asian Rapunzel which I'm sure my 'freind' will appreciate :)


Hair Growth and Loss

So just to briefly explain there are only so many follicles on a human head the number of follicles is more or less determined at birth but may change during puberty after which it usually decreases as the body ages. Hair follicles go through cycles of growing hair strands and falling out (just like a girl's menstruation) however 90% of hair follicles on the scalp are in the growing phase which can last for 2-6 years.

Asian people have the thickest strands of hair. Because they are so thick there is not enough space on the scalp to have the same number of follicles as a Caucasian who would have relatively finer strands thus smaller follicles. If that's hard to understand then think of it this way......

A box (scalp) will hold 10 small cola cans (fine hair strands) but the small box will only hold 5 big 1ltr cola bottles (thick hair strands) because they are so much thicker.

Caucasians usually lose their hair a a faster rate than Asians but because Asian hair follicles are so big the gap left behind by one follicle will be bigger than that of a Caucasian, thus giving the appearance of faster hair loss. This also means that when Asian people experience hair loss any parting worn appears to widen.

But all is not lost because Asian hair as most of us know grows the fastest and has the longest growing phase (7 years or more) amongst all human races. This means that they will see faster results with any given treatment, medical or natural.

If you are Caucasian girl and you are reading this you can rest assured that your hair loss won't be that obvious to begin with but may be more difficult to improve with treatment.

Also I should explain here that hair loss in women occurs evenly all around the scalp whereas men experience what is know as male patterned baldness in which the hair is lost in particular areas, but only on the scalp. I won't go into too much detail on male patterned baldness but I may do a post on it if requested.

Something to note is that scientific studies on Asian hair loss have found that it can be hereditary along the maternal or paternal line. This means that an Asian female experiencing hair loss is very likely to have a female relative who has or will experience the same hair loss at a similar age. The same goes for Male Asians and Male relatives. These studies have also shown that because of the higher melanin content, Asian scalps are also more prone to keloid scarring which can affect hair growth. Because of this risk it's important to be gentle with the scalp and make sure it is not damaged to prevent any scarring.


Causes of Hair Loss

I'll now go through a list of possible causes of hair loss which can apply to anyone regardless of race or gender.

Weight loss of more than 15 lbs can cause hair loss however it will recover after a few months. 

The same goes for any nutrient deficiency which will cause temporary hair loss that will recover a few months after a normal diet has been restored.

Protein for example is an essential nutrient and if the body is lacking it our hair will not grow. this is because our hair is made up mostly of the protein keratin and if we aren't getting any protein our bodies cannot make keratin. Also hair growth is not a priority to the bodies survival so unless we are getting enough or surplus nutrition our hair follicles will not receive the maximum amount of nutrients possible from the our blood supply.

Which brings me onto iron. Yes, that mineral that is so important for making blood. If you don't have enough iron then you are probably anaemic and you definitely won't have enough blood supply reaching your scalp to achieve maximum hair growth. Remember ladies, menstruation and heavy periods can also cause anaemia regardless of how much iron you consume in which case there isn't much you can do other than make sure you are well nourish or ask your doctor if there is any medication to help make your periods lighter and more manageable. 

The doctor may well give you birth control to help regulate your periods (or for whatever other reason) however birth control pills can different side effects depending on the individual. Some women may experience thicker hair growth however other women may actually experience hair loss.

The same applies to men taking steroids as these can also cause hair loss.

I should also add here that during pregnancy a woman's hair will beat at its thickest and best condition in her life because of all those lovely pregnancy hormones, however as soon as those hormone levels drop after child birth the mother will experience substantial hair loss and her hair may even be thinner than what it was before the pregnancy.

What about Fats? these are very essential for hair growth and if our diet is low in them our hair grows weak, limp, dull and lifeless. However you have to be careful with fats because too much of them can actually cause hair loss. this is because a diet high fats  increases levels of the the male hormones known as androgens which are responsible for male patterned baldness, acne, and bacne (acne on the back). This usually occurs in men however women with hormonal imbalances can also experience these symptoms which I most definitely have.

Many of us know that too much vitamin A can cause birth defects in unborn babies however it can also be a cause for hair loss.

And finally, a dry/flaky or even inflamed scalp can cause hair loss.




Toni's Advice

Although our hair growth and loss is largely determined by our genetics (which cannot be altered) there are many things we can do to ensure our follicles are healthy and reach their full hair growing potential. If you are still worried about your hair loss, see a dermatologist and have them check out your scalp because you may have an underlying illness or condition that is affecting your hair growth. Regardless of whether this is the case, here is a list that should help nearly anyone with their hair loss problems. I'm not saying that these tips will definitely work or grow new follicles on your head, but they will definitely aid in slowing down the process of hair loss and protecting their that is already on your head.....

 1. Make Sure you are getting enough daily calories

2. Make sure you are eating enough Fats, Proteins & Iron

3. There are many multivitamins on the market today however none that I have seen contain sulphur which is essential to hair growth. You may come across hair growth pills that contain sulphur but such pills will not have all the vitamins and minerals required for general health. Incorporate sulphur rich foods into your diet or take a supplement

4.Cucumbers contain silica which is also difficult to find in general multivitamins. If you're not the biggest fan of cucumbers try sprinkling a little salt on them or find other silica containing foods.

5. Calcium is also another nutrient not found in many multivitamins. I recommend drinking probiotic yoghurt because they are rich in calcium and some even contain vitamin D which we need to absorb calcium in the first place however you should get enough vitamin D from natural sun exposure. Scientific studies have shown that probiotic yoghurt can potentially have many benefits with regards to shiner, thicker hair, increased fertility and a healthy immune system. After just two weeks of drinking probiotic yoghurt every day I noticed my nails were longer, stronger and most of all shinier!!!!

6. Handle your hair gently because the scalp is much more delicate than the rest of your skin. You would be surprised at just how much damage our fingers can do to our fragile hair strands and how only a small amount of tension can rip them out.

7. Use a sulphate free shampoo. Sulphates can irritate the scalp and those of you with dry flaky itchy scalps definitely don't want to be using any sulphates.

8. Tea tree/peppermint/green tea and even coffee infused hair products like shampoo can increase blood flow to the scalp to help deliver the blood's nutrients to the hair follicles

9.Exercise regularly or at least do yoga to improve your blood flow. If you really want to go the extra mile do daily scalp massages.

10. Stay away from synthetic water-insoluble ingredients such as silicones in hair products as these will clog your pores and suffocate your follicles.

11. Don't rub your  hair dry, pat it gently with a soft microfibre towel or a soft T-shirt

12. Don't wear hat's too much as your scalp needs to breathe, however it should also stay warm in order to maximise hair growth. If you must wear a hat make sure the inside is lined with silk or satin.

13. If you suffer from anaemia like I have Floradix iron tablets are uh-mazing. they don't contain all the nutrients that a multivitamin does but they more or less cured my anaemia. My skin became richer in colour and was no longer pale from the lack of blood. Also Prior to taking the tablets I had experienced hair loss which was mostly noticeable by the thinning of my eyelashes and poor nail growth. After just two weeks I noticed my eyelashes had grown longer, after a month my nails were looking longer and after a few months my energy levels stayed constant and I no longer needed naps during the day.

14.  Finally as a last resort you can try taking Biotin tablets. however I believe this is useless because the body can synthesise this by itself so a deficiency is rare and unlikely. I have to warn you though that taking Biotin pills or anything that contains moderate doses of biotin WILL GIVE YOU ACNE, so make sure you  are healthy and drinking shit tonnes of water!!!! It is also best to take biotin as part of a wide range multivitamin complex so you are getting all the nutrients you need and not just an excess of one.


Just remember that you can't try out one of these tips for a few weeks and expect to see a drastic difference. I myself have incorporated most of them into my lifestyle. If you really wan't to see a difference you should slowly try to change how you care for your hair but most importantly try your best to be healthy and active

Hope this helps and  I hope you enjoyed reading :)

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