Know your Hair
What is your hair really made of?
Your hair is mainly composed of keratin, a protein which has great chemical resistance and mechanical strength. A chemical analysis of your hair would reveal that it contains carbon (45%), oxygen (28%), nitrogen (15%), hydrogen (7%) and sulfur (5%). The proportion of each would vary with age, gender and hair type.
Your hair growth begins in a hair follicle which is embedded in your scalp. The only ‘living’ portion of the hair is found in the follicle. The follicle consists of a hair bulb and hair shaft.
The base of the root is called the hair bulb, which contains the dermal papilla cells that produce the hair shaft. Hair is made of three components – medulla, cortex and cuticle. The medulla is the inner core of the hair shaft. The cortex is responsible for mechanical strength and water uptake. It also contains melanin which provides color to the hairs. The cuticle is an outer covering for hair shaft. When the cuticle breaks and dislodges at the end of hair, it results in split ends. Improper care and use of hair chemicals damages the cuticle.
Respect your hair, it brings you respect.
Looking good is important today and these simple tips for good hair treatment,can help you take better care of your hair:
How often you should wash your hair.
If your scalp is oily, you may need to wash it once a day.
If you have chemically treated hair, it may be drier, so you may want to wash it less frequently.
As you get older, your scalp makes less oil, so you may not need to shampoo as often.
Concentrate shampoo on the scalp.
When washing your hair, cleaning your scalp is more important than washing the entire length of your hair.
Conditioner that protects against sunlight.
It significantly improves the health of damaged hair and offers some protection from harmful UV rays.
Wet hair – handle with extra care.
Don’t brush your hair when it is wet.
Avoid pulling too much on your hair when you brush it, or style it.
When combing hair use a wide-tooth comb, and use it gently.
Dry your hair carefully.
To dry your hair, don’t rub with a towel but wrap it in a towel to absorb the water. Don’t use a blow dryer, let your hair dry by itself.
See a Dermatologist.
It’s important if you are concerned about thinning hair or hair loss. Most causes of hair fall can be stopped or treated. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better your results.
Signs of Hair loss
When the hair fall in men starts becoming obvious from the thinning of hair on the head, it is time to take a closer look.
Hair loss can happen suddenly or take place gradually depending on the causative triggers. Some types of hair loss are temporary, and some other types are permanent.Now let’s look at how you can recognize the signs of hair loss.
Gradual thinning on top of head.
This is the most commonly seen type of hair loss in men. Hair slowly recedes from the forehead in a shape that looks like the letter ‘M’.
Circular or patchy bald spots.
Some people are affected by smooth bald spots on the scalp, about an inch (2.6 cms) in size. Such bald spots are also known to occur in beards or eyebrows.
Sudden loosening of hair.
Hair can loosen as a reaction to a physical or emotional shock,and simply combing your hair may cause it to come out in handfuls.With this type of hair loss, the result is an overall thinning of hair and not bald patches.
Full-body hair loss.
Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over your body. The hair usually grows back after treatment ends.
There are tests to confirm the severity of a hair loss problem.
Before starting treatment for hair fall control, it is good to confirm that the problem really exists.
Hair pull test.
This is simple, a dermatologist picks up a few strands of hair with the fingers and pulls on them gently. The difference between the number of hairs pulled and the number that come off in the hand, reveals the health of the hair. The hair pull test is considered ‘positive’ when more than 10% of the hairs come off in the fingers.
A Trichogram involves the collecting of 50 to 100 hairs, taken from different parts of the scalp. The hairs are then studied under a microscope to see what percentage of the hairs are in each of the three phases of the hair growth cycle: Anagen (growth phase), Catagen (resting phase), or Telogen (no growth phase).
Microscopic hair shaft analysis.
Dermatologists examine the hair shafts under a microscope. Approximately 25 strands of hairare cut as close to the scalp as possible from a representative area. If the hair roots are to be examined, the hairs may be pulled or plucked. An analysis is done by looking closely at the appearance of the hair roots, shafts, and ends.
What is Hair loss?
‘Hair loss’ is termed as such when the amount of hair on the scalp starts reducing, and becomes noticeable.
The medical term for such hair loss is alopecia. The most common form of hair loss occurs gradually and is referred to as “androgenetic alopecia,” or “male pattern baldness”.
It is caused by a combination of hormones and hereditary factors. There are other types of hair loss: alopecia areata (bald patches in the scalp), telogen effluvium (the rapid dropping of hair after childbirth, or sickness); and traction alopecia (the thinning that happens caused by wearing tight braids that stress your hair).
Male pattern baldness accounts for about 95% of hair loss in men. What it does is make the hair follicles in your scalp to shrink. Over time, hair becomes thinner and shorter, until there is no growth at all.Simply put, hair loss occurs when you lose hair faster than you can grow it.
What is male pattern baldness?
It usually begins with a receding hairline (hair starts thinning from the front of the scalp to the back) and then the hair begins to thin on the top of the scalp and the sides, around the ears. These three areas eventually meet to make the person completely bald.
Male pattern baldness is genetic and is a very common phenomenon. It is often seen as a sign of ageing, but the onset can vary. It usually starts in the late twenties and thirties and by the age of sixty, most men experience some degree of hair loss.
Facts about male pattern baldness
- It can be inherited from either the mother’s or father’s side.
- The first signs begin to show after puberty and it reaches fully-blown proportions in the 40s.
- Up to one-third of all men are affected by it.
- By the age of 50, approximately 50% of men have significantly thinner hair.
When Androgenetic Alopecia or hair fall in men takes place, the large active hair follicles in specific areas of the scalp begin to shrink to smaller, less active ones. The human enzyme 5 Alpha- Reductase is thought to be the major cause of this. The enzyme causes the male hormone testosterone to become Dihydrotestosterone. This reaction in the hormone makes the hair shafts narrower,and as a result hair becomes finer and finer with each new growth cycle. Finally, the hairs become transparent and stop emerging.
A person with Androgenetic Alopecia may have an overall level of testosterone that is normal, however the activity of 5 Alpha-Reductase is most likely greater than normal, which results in increased amounts of Dihydrotestosterone in the hair follicle.
Causes of Hair loss
What are the different causes of hair loss?
Significant stress increases toxins in the blood, which circulates in the scalp with negative results. Toxins push large numbers of hair follicles into a ‘resting phase’, as opposed to a ‘growing phase’. These hairs later fall out in large numbers.Stress is usually accompanied by a lack of sleep which adds to the negative effects.
Some of the more serious conditions which can lead to hair loss include hypothyroidism, auto-immune diseases such as lupus and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Dandruff is an inflammation of the scalp in which white flakes are spread throughout the hair. It causes severe hair loss.
Watch your regular medication.
A wide range of drugs cause mild to heavy hair loss, if you see a change in your hair talk to your consulting doctor.
Follow a healthy diet.
Eating healthily nourishes your scalp and hair. Your hair is composed mostly of protein, so having lots of protein in your diet is essential for healthy hair.
Avoid low-calorie diets.
Such diets often rob your body of many of the vitamins, other nutrients and healthy fats it requires to function properly and maintain a healthy rate of hair growth.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Don’t wash hair too often
Washing too often can strip your scalp and hair of natural oils, making it dry and prone to breaking. It’s advisable to wash hair only every two to three days.
Nourish your hair.
Coconut oil and almond oil can work wonders for your scalp and hair, making it soft and silky.
Trim your hair regularly.
Keep your hair in good condition by getting it trimmed every six to eight weeks. This eliminates split ends and helps your hair to look and feel great.
Try to avoid using hair products with too many chemicals in them. Shampoos containing sulfates or parabens affect both scalp and hair and should be avoided in preference for the more natural, organic shampoos.
Pick your shampoo with care.
If you have dry hair you will need richer, super-moisturizing products, while oily or very fine hair will require lighter products that were designed for regular use.
Try not to brush your hair when it’s wet, and don’t blow-dry after a bath.Another risk is fussing over your hair with your fingers…over styling as it’s better known, or wearing your hair in a very tightly stretched fashion. And do keep bleaches away from your hair.
Male pattern baldness.
Genetics plays a big role in hair fall in men. This type of baldness happens when your hair starts to recede, beginning at the temples or crown.
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Know Your Scalp
Understand your scalp better
The scalp consists of skin cells which constantly replicate themselves to produce new cells, just like the skin on the rest of our body. When something disturbs this process, scalp problems arise. These problems show up in the forms of flaking, or tiny bumps on the scalp along with itching, thinning or falling of hair, premature greying or breakage, dandruff and flaking. These are symptoms you need to watch out for and manage it by taking the care to change your diet, or hair regimen.
A natural oil called sebum is produced in microscopically small quantities by the scalp. This slightly acidic substance coats individual strands of hair and lubricates the scalp. Most scalp disorders happen because the sebaceous glands are not functioning properly.
The over production of sebum results in the creation of oily flakes on the scalp, and its under production causes dry flakes. These flakes are visible to the eye and are actually skin cells. An inflamed scalp does not support the growth of long and strong hair.
Skin on the scalp is thinner than the skin in other areas which makes it more sensitive to damage. While hair loss can occur because of scalp problems, that isn’t always the case. It’s important though to follow a scalp care routine in much the same way you follow a hair care routine.
Scalp types, like hair are of 3 types – normal, oily and dry. Appropriate scalp care regimes are recommended for each of these types to maintain good scalp health.
Hair care routines are common, but scalp care is just as important.
• Ensure your scalp contains the right amount of oils to stay moist and healthy. Frequent washing helps, but for some people it can have the opposite effect as over washing removes the protective oils affecting your hairs natural defences.
• Excessive washing of hair causes a dry, flaky scalp, a condition more commonly known as dandruff. It is advised to use a specially formulated shampoo and a moisturizing cream to nourish the scalp and restore it to its natural condition. The cream is to be applied just before you go to bed.
• Every time you wash your hair, apply a conditioner and leave it for 4 to 5 minutes before rinsing it off. This protects your scalp too.
• If you are troubled by rashes on your scalp which make it difficult to wash your hair, apply an oil or cream. This will soothe the itching.
• If spending time outdoors on a sunny day avoid applying oil as it increases your risk of sunburn. Wearing protective headgear is a good idea to avoid the damage that strong sunlight can cause.
Treatment with Minoxidil
What is Minoxidil?
It’s adrug that the patient applies directly to the scalp to stimulate hair follicles. It mainly slows hair loss in both men and women, and some might grow new hair. It is available as a solution and as foam.
How does Minoxidil work?
It works by gradually enlarging the diameter of each hair shaft, which has been slowly shrinking due to Androgenetic Alopecia. The growth phase of hair may also be extended,this gives your hair an opportunity to reach a longer length before they fall out.
What is the right way to apply Minoxidil?
1. Make sure your scalp is dry (hair can be damp)
2. Part your hair in the area of hair thinning
3. Take 1ml of Minoxidil solution, or half a capful of foam.
4. Spread the liquid or foam evenly over the hair loss area
5. Wash hands with soap and water after massage
These steps should be followed twice a day, once in the morning and repeat it in the evening. While using Minoxidil you can continue with other hair care routines, including washing your hair and styling it with gel or mousse, as long as you allow the Minoxidilsolution that you have applied to dry first which can take about 3-4 hours.
What to expect from Minoxidil treatment?
Some individuals see results faster than others, on average, the studies show that at least 4 months of treatment is usually necessary before there is evidence of hair growth with Minoxidil.
Within the first few weeks, as Minoxidil begins working, you may experience more hair loss than usual. This is temporary and an expected part of the Minoxidil process. If this hair loss continues even after 6 weeks, talk to your doctor.
Early hair growth is soft and colorless. However, with continued use, new hairs would become the same color and thickness as your other hair.If the treatment is successful, the first thing you will notice is less shedding within 90 days of beginning treatment. This is because Minoxidil may prolong the growth phase of the hair cycle, thus increasing the number of follicles in the growth phase at the same time.
Do remember that Minoxidil is a treatment and not a cure, further progress is possible only if you useMinoxidil continuously over the long term.
DR. JERRY SHAPIRO, MD
Hair & Scalp Disorders Clinical Professor,
University of British Columbia,
Department of Dermatology & Skin Science, Vancouver, Canada
Adjunct Professor, New York University,
Langone Medical Center, Department of Dermatology, New York City
“I have been using Mintop 2% since last six months, and it has helped
me grow hair where it was thinning” – Ashish Waghulkar, Nagpur
“Happy with results” – Vaibhav Shirwadkar, Mumbai
“In the last 3 months, since I have started using Mintop 10%, my
confidence and self-esteem has improved.” – Anurag Sethiya, Madhya