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How to Prevent Hair Loss

When the strands of hair located on the top of your head are becoming less and less constant than the ones showing up on the hairbrush, falling onto the floor, or clogging the shower, you might be experiencing a hair loss problem. Hair loss is defined as the condition that occurs when the rate of shedding exceeds the rate of regrowth, and new hair becomes thinner than the hair shed, or when hair comes out in patches. While some hair loss cannot be avoided, especially when it comes to heredity, there are still plenty of ways to avert the type of hair loss that is preventable.

How to Prevent Hair Loss

What is Hair Loss?

The loss of hair is a natural process, where about 90% of the hair on most scalps experience a two- to six- year growth stage (known as anagen) at any given time [1]. The remaining 10% enters a two-to three- month period of rest (referred to as the telogen phase), where hair is naturally shed. On the whole, most people experience a normal shedding of about 50 to 150 hairs on a daily basis. Once the hair leaves the scalp, the growth stage begins anew, where new hair begins to emerge from the same follicle. The typical rate of growth for new hair is approximately ½ inch each month.

The Negative Effects of Hair Loss

In this day and age, unless you carry the same recognition as Jean Luc Picard, Telly Savalas, or Mr. Clean, hair loss and becoming bald is not a desirable outcome within a society that places high value on personal appearance. This is why the psychological effects of hair loss are one of the deepest negative outcomes associated with the condition.

While some people are better able to deal with the occurrence, others enter a vicious cycle of depression, anxiety, and social phobia that threatens the very identity of the person suffering from hair loss [2]. Although hair loss is not a life-threatening condition, it causes embarrassment and is responsible for the development of low self-esteem and negative perceptions of body image. Additionally, hair loss causes issues with proper hair grooming; may develop scalp sensitivity or tenderness; and can influence body heat regulation (especially at night) [3].

For some, hair loss serves as a daily reminder of traumatic experiences, as seen with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Hair loss stands as a constant reference point regarding their disease and the sometimes-painful treatments they must endure.

Causes and Risk Factors of Hair Loss

While the type of hair loss that comes from the family tree is unpreventable, there are many different temporary hair loss causes to consider. Depending on the source of hair loss, many prevention measures can avoid the occurrence, while some issues remedy themselves over time. Temporary causes include:

a) Disease:

Hair loss may occur when one suffers from thyroid disorders, lupus, or diabetes. In the case of thyroid disease, both an overactive and underactive thyroid could be to blame. Once proper treatment is established, the hair loss associated with the disease will cease and reverse.

b) Poor Eating Habits:

A diet that lacks a sufficient amount of protein or iron can lead to hair loss. This is a commonly seen result in crash dieting, fad diets, certain illnesses, and in the case of some vegetarians [4]. An eating disorder will also cause hair to fall out.

c) Prescription Medication:

There are certain drugs aimed to treat conditions, such as depression, heart ailments, high blood pressure, arthritis, and gout that may result in hair loss. Some women are also known to experience the same effects when taking birth control pills.

d) Medical Treatments:

Patients who include chemotherapy or radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment may experience hair loss. After a treatment regimen is complete, hair usually starts to grow back.

e) Childbirth: Some women experience an increase in hair loss several months after giving birth to a baby. Pregnancy can sometimes cause the active growth state to shift, which takes a bit of time to readjust once delivery is complete. Usually, this problem will correct itself without any help.

f) Infancy:

During the fist couple months of a newborn’s life, a baby may experience hair loss, which is eventually replaced by a more permanent head of hair. Sometimes, patches of hair loss develop, as a baby gets into the habit of rubbing the back of their head against their mattress, car seat, or playpen. Lost hair will return once a baby is able to spend more time in the upright position.

g) Stressful Hair Care:

If you are in the habit of treating your hair with chemicals, such as getting a dye job, tinting your hair, using a straightening device, bleaching, or perming, then you may cause damage to your hair that may cause it to break off. Some hairstyling techniques, such as pulling hair too tightly into a ponytail, may also cause some hair loss, which is referred to as traction alopecia [1].

h) Scalp Infection:

Infections caused by a fungus, such as ringworm, may affect the hair and skin of the scalp, which can lead to hair loss. Once the infection is treated, hair usually grows back. One of the most common ways to get rid of ringworm is to purchase a topical or oral antifungal medication.

i) Additional Causes:

Some people experience hair shedding that seems to occur about three to four months after a major surgery, illness, severe flu, or recent high fever. Usually, this condition will shift after the regrowth phase resumes after a period of rest.

How to Prevent Hair Loss

You should be happy to know that the kind of hair loss that comes from taking certain medications, suffering from stress, following poor diet habits, and relying on inappropriate hair care is often preventable. While there are many different lifestyle changes associated with keeping a full head of hair or preventing further shedding, there are also a variety of products on the market to help maintain your tresses, locks, or curls. Below are some of the ways an individual may prevent hair loss:

a) Biotin:

Sometimes a deficiency in biotin can cause hair to fall out, which then grows back once a sufficient amount of this B vitamin is included in a diet [5]. Biotin helps to make hair healthy and is found in many foods. The best sources of biotin come from beef liver and brewer’s yeast, but a decent amount is also found in nuts, egg yolks, and whole grains. Additional foods to consider include bananas, cooked oatmeal, peanut butter, brown rice, and white rice.

b) Better Hair Care:

The way hair is styled may help prevent hair loss, which is especially true for women, who tend to tightly pull their hair back and use a variety of different chemicals to clean and style their hair. Those who wear their hair in the same styles can also create undue stress, which causes the weakness that eventually leads to breakage and hair loss. Varying hairstyles, especially those that allow the hair to breath and fall loose are recommended for the promotion of strong, healthy hair.

c) Balanced Diet:

Those who follow a balanced diet increase their chances of preventing hair loss. Some of the major foods and beverages to consider include tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and plenty of water. A balanced diet allows an individual to receive the proper amounts of vitamins that hair needs to stay strong and healthy.

d) Propecia:

Researchers sought out to find the smallest amount of the antiandrogen called finasteride, which could be used to effectively treat mild to moderate thinning hair in men between the ages of 18 and 41. Based on clinical trial results, it was concluded that taking 1mg on a daily basis would show results after two years of treatment. About 85% of more than 1,500 men suffering from hair loss and involved in testing the product were able to prevent further loss of hair, as well as increase their hair count [2].

e) Stress Reduction:

Many individuals have been known to lose their hair because of various stresses in their lives. Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, simple stretching, or meditation is just some of the many ways a person may reduce the amount of stress in their life.

f) LaserComb:

There is actually a comb that delivers a low-level laser to the scalp, which is believed to prevent hair loss and promote growth. The LaserComb is significant in the industry of hair loss prevention and treatment because it is the first and only home use product to receive the thumbs up from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

g) Clean Scalp:

An important part of hair loss prevention is keeping the clean scalp [6]. Using a mild shampoo on a regular basis will help wash away the extra proteins that may clog pores in the scalp. Pairing a light scalp massage with shampooing will increase the circulation to hair follicles, which in turn, strengthens hair and amplifies both hair and scalp health.

h) Herbs:

A wealth of naturopathic physicians recommend the use of Saw Palmetto, corn silk, horsetail, nettle, and rosemary to help slow down the hormonal effects that causes hair loss [7]. It is the horsetail, nettle, and rosemary that promote the growth of hair by encouraging blood circulation to the scalp and also aids in the unclogging of pores so that vital nutrients may work their magic on hair follicles. When women wish to prevent the thinning of their hair, they may benefit from using herbs that affect the adrenal glands, such as licorice, astragalas, and Siberian ginseng.

Resources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_loss#Stress_Reduction
[3] http://www.healthscout.com/ency/68/429/main.html#CausesandRiskFactorsofHairLoss
[5] The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals by Alan Pressman with Sheila Buff (Third Edition; pg 134)
[6] http://www.herbal-gardens.net/hair-loss-cause.htm

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