In the history of mankind the hair is always considered to be a crowning glory. A healthy and lustrous mane is every person’s dream be it a man or woman, from past or present. Even with the increasing globalization, ethnic variations in perception of beauty in males and females, luxurious hair is still a reason to flaunt. But the pursuit of beautiful hair is not only a lifestyle choice, it has a deeper meaning in reference to a person’s health.
The hair disorders are not just the problems associated with hair but actually the symptoms of the inner derangements of a human body. Anything from cough to cancer to thyroid exhibits itself as symptoms related to hair, be it hair fall or hair thinning. Never ignore these warning signs of the body and get it diagnosed to rule out all the possibilities.
Now the question arises even though most of us are aware of the hair problems we are suffering from and want to do something about it but where to go when we are lost in the advertisements and scores of advices flooding from everywhere? Irony is, inspite of so much information available and help around our concern is not addressed properly. The main reason behind this is the lack of right guidance and wrong approach towards the problem.
Like a cardiologist is required when we want our heart to be cured and ophthalmologist for eyes similarly to treat our beautiful hair we need to consult a trichologist. Trichologist is someone who specialises in hair and scalp disorders and its management. Even a dermatologist is equipped to deal with the same as trichology as a science is a part of their curriculum too. So now we know where to go to seek resolution for our hair concerns.
Hair disorders is a broad category that includes alopecia (loss or thinning of hair), hirsutism (excessive male pattern hair growth in women) and hair shaft disorders. But to understand it well we need to know more about hair. This simple structure called hair has important functioning like facilitation of evaporation of perspiration, regulation of temperature, protection and also acts as sense organ. It is made up of a tough protein called keratin protein. The life span of a hair is 3 years and 4 months and is divided into 3 phases i.e. anagen phase which is the growing phase, catagen phase is the transitional stage from anagen to telogen and telogen phase which is the shedding phase of Hair. The longer the hair stays in anagen phase, the longer it will grow. About 85% of the hair on one’s head are in anagen phase at any given time. During the catagen phase the follicles renews itself by shrinking in size and cutting the hair strand off from its nourishing blood supply. In the last phase i.e. the telogen phase the hair base will break free from the root and the hair will be shed. Within two weeks the new hair shaft will begin to emerge and this is how telogen stage ends. This problem results in normal hair loss. It is quite interesting to know that 100 hair falling off can be normal and 1 hair falling off can be abnormal because it depends on the ratio of anagen and telogen hair. So do not worry until you find a major increase in your hair fall pattern distinct from your usual pattern.
Coming back to disorders of hair, the first one is Alopecia which occurs due to deficiencies, certain drugs, autoimmune reaction in which body’s immune system becomes faulty, other causes include severe stress, pregnancy or pulling of own hair. The second one i.e. hirsutism generally categorised by irregular menstruation, acne, deepening voice, lack of ovulation, balding and other genital abnormalities. Next is hair shaft disorders. Which occur due to colouring, excessive heat or certain diseases.
Management of these disorders requires getting it diagnosed first, so that the exact cause can be identified and recurrence can be checked. For this the foremost step is visiting the professional who will take your hair strands for microscopic and clinical examination to correlate the picture with other symptoms, present and past history.
Managing hair at home
Like any other thing existing in this world our beautiful hair too requires regular care and maintenance
• Wash your hair regularly, at least 2 to 3 times in week, even if you are experiencing a hair fall. A dirty scalp worsens the hair problems and the hair that fall while oiling, washing and combing are anyways going to fall.
• Use any mild shampoo which is sulphate free preferably.
• Oil is the natural hair conditioner so it is good to oil regularly before wash if you have dry hair and scalp, however one should refrain from oiling if the scalp is oily as excess of oil can worsen the problem and lead to issues like dandruff and hair fall
Do not oil hair after wash as dirt gets accumulated on the hair and makes it heavy which can lead to hair fall
• Towel dry and comb your hair gently it is not a war that you have to win. Rubbing hair harshly opens up cuticles on hair which is a protective layer and turns hair dry and frizzy
• Eat healthy food as what you eat reflects through you skin and hair. If your hair are thinning do not forget to add green tea which is an antioxidant and DHT blocker, soy which good source of protein and phytoestrogens, flax seeds and walnuts every day.
If your hair are falling than also add raisins and jaggery in diet as these two easily available sources of iron. In India the no. of women suffering from iron deficiency is too high.
Vegan diet often leads to vitamin b12 deficiency as the flour that we eat is processed and refined so add bran in small portion while kneading dough as it is a rich source of vitamin b12.
Some interesting facts about hair
• Human body has more hair than a gorilla, it’s just that our hair are much finer and lighter than a gorilla’s hair.
• The hair cells inside our ear aid in converting the vibrations caused by sound waves into signals for the brain and hence help in hearing. If the sound is too loud the hair cells get damaged and can no longer send signals to brain. Once a hair cell dies, it will never grow back.
• Hair grows half inch per month or around 6 inches per year.
• Most of the times hair fall stops on its own after 3 months owing to the telogen phase of the hair which is 3 months and also any acute illness or stress or drug can lead to hair fall which exhibits after 3 months. This is known as magic 3 months, so before you start panicking try improving your lifestyle and wait to see if symptoms improve on their own. If it doesn’t do not delay in meeting an expert to find the exact cause.