My hair seems to be falling from the roots? Is this loss permanent?
Many patients express a lot of anxiety even on having a normal hair fall, because they mistake the white portion at the end of hair as the root of the hair. This mistake probably arises from the belief that is just like a plant which carries the root at its end. However that is a completely false notion.
The white part seen at the end of every hair is merely the hair bulb, which in fact has no role to play in forming a new hair. The hair root is always attached to the skin within the hair follicle and never “falls off”. And if the roots are alive, then a new hair can be generated. Thus every time you lose a hair strand, it need not worry you as a permanent hair loss.
I have been receiving some email forwards suggesting that SLS containing shampoos cause cancer and that the government has banned these shampoos. How far is that true?
It is as true as the monkey man of Delhi. No government has banned any of these shampoos. And a case of cancer caused by shampoo is yet to be recorded in history. Most of these forwarded emails are nothing but marketing gimmicks. If you study the email chain carefully you will notice that these emails originate from certain websites which promote the so-called natural or herbal shampoos or soaps or toothpaste. It is rather surprising that these select websites have such in-depth knowledge about the hugely harmful effects of SLS while the other recognized medical institutions, government bodies and most of the medical fraternity are ignorant about it. These chain emails in fact show how a good medium like the internet can be easily misused.
I have stayed in 3-4 cities in India and with every change of water my hair fall increases. In some places the water was really hard and of poor quality. I have therefore started using mineral water available in the large 45 liter cans and that has helped reduced the fall to some extent. Should I continue with this?
The water available in the large 45 liter can is not really mineral water, but ordinary drinking water treated with reverse osmosis, wherein the hardness of the water is reduced by around 30-50%. It is a fact that frequent change of water causes hair loss. And it is not good water or bad water, just change of water that triggers hair loss. By using canned water, the water used for washing ends up getting standardized and that is the only reason it helps. And it is not really the mineral content in the water.
Does shaving the scalp repeatedly help in better hair growth?
I think this thought is based on the fact that many men shave their beard regularly and it keeps growing back every day. However it is a complete myth, there is no truth in this. Repeated shaving does not help at all, and in fact in the long run can cause decreased growth.
You can however occasionally shave the scalp (1-2 times per year). In fact what is much more useful than shaving the scalp is maintaining a certain constant length of hair, by repeating hair cuts at regular intervals. Not only does that help in controlling hair loss, you will find the hair grows better that way.
If I use a good shampoo will it stop my hair loss? Can a shampoo make my hair grow long and strong?
Any good shampoo can do only do one thing to your hair – clean it thoroughly. If you expect that your shampoo will also make stronger, or longer or straighter, or give it more shine, more luster and also stuff with proteins and vitamins, and especially will do that because some actress or a model being paid millions of bucks says it does, then get ready to be disappointed.
Is oiling hair compulsory? Will I go bald if I don’t oil it regularly?
Folk wisdom will have you believe that it is compulsory for everyone to put oil on the head. The fact is that every scalp has its own natural oil secretion called sebum which provides lubrication to the part of the hair inside the skin. Sebum makes it easy for you to comb your hair forwards or backwards without causing any frictional damage to the hair shaft. For most people the sebum produced by their sebaceous gland under the skin is enough to keep the hair healthy and moisturized negating the need to apply any external oil. So the next time someone advises you to put oil on the scalp, ask yourself whether you really need to??? The natural oil secretion is more than sufficient.
Does hair oil provide nourishment to the hair?
It’s not true at all. The hair gets its nourishment just like the rest of the body does, through the food we eat. Most men have plenty of hair growing on the moustache and beard area. Have you ever heard of men applying oil on their moustache or beard to make it grow? And yet the hair grows very well in that area! Unfortunately however, tradition is not always easily countered with logic.
Can oiling stop hair loss?
A popular brand of oil actually guarantees that its usage will control hair loss. Sounds very promising, except if you read the fine print. At the bottom of the advertisement, of its advertisements, it states that this guarantee applicable only to those cases of hair loss which are not due to hereditary or due to medical reasons. Shocking isn’t it? After all if you rule out hair loss due to hereditary or medical reasons, then what is left is just normal hair loss. Is that what this oil guarantees to cure? Normal hair loss!!
Women must have long hair!
Even in these modern times there are women who refuse to cut their hair short. The reason – their in-laws will not approve of it. And these are not village folks. A lot of them are working women. Apparently their parents / in laws have no issues in them working long hours and contributing to the family welfare in every which way, but when it comes to getting a hair cut done, it becomes an earth-shattering issue.
Products that contain chemicals are harsh. An herbal product is safer?
Most people think that an herbal product is safe. It is like a guilt trip. First they tend to neglect or mismanage their hair, undergo procedures like straightening, perming, coloring etc and then when all that results in hair loss they panic and go to the other extreme and go the herbal way. As if the herbal product will wash away all the damage and restore the hair to its glorious past. But before rushing to buy the herbal product, keep in the mind these red flags –
a) Herbal products cannot last long on the shelf – A pure herbal product should not have preservatives which makes it extremely fragile. This means you have to use it up within 3-4 days of preparation. Like food. Now if you are using a so-called herbal shampoo which is kept on the shelf for many months and is supposed to still retain its magical herbal properties, then please ask yourself how that is possible, without preservatives? And if synthetic preservatives are added, how does it still remain an herbal product?
b) A drop of herb is all you get
A popular brand of almond oil sells a bottle of the stuff for just 50 bucks. How do they do it when almond oil is so expensive? They do it by keeping the bottle 95% liquid paraffin to which they add just a drop or two of almond oil. That’s how they afford it. And this brings me to the last point
c) It’s all about the money, honey
Did you know the government gives duty cuts to products labeled herbal? This is to promote local products. So, many smart companies add a drop of herb, label the product herbal so that they get the duty cuts from the government, and thus sell it at a price cheaper than its competitor.
Is baldness curable?
Various cures for baldness have been proposed right from time immemorial. Every few years someone claims to have found some fancy or rare cure for baldness, a claim that sadly blows away with time…….until the next claimant comes along. Let’s examine some of these cures-
The oldest claim can be attributed to Hippocrates, the Father of medicine (and the author of the Hippocratic Oath). Hippocrates would recommend the use of Pigeon droppings to be massaged on the head once a week as a cure for baldness. We are not sure how well it worked, but clearly the doctor did not try it out on himself as it is believed that he was himself completely bald.
Another of his Greek contemporary, Aristotle used to prescribe Goat’s urine as a cure for baldness. In Aristotle’s case, it is believed he did use it himself; sadly however he too went the Hippocrates way.
The famous queen Cleopatra; she herself had very good hair, but wanted to cure Julius Caesar’s baldness. Her prescription – a mixture of burnt mice, horse teeth, bear grease and deer marrow. Clearly the ancient folks had high tolerance levels.
Coming to more recent times, the 20th century particular has been rife with new cures coming out every year. Sample some of them:-
•One doctor in Japan recommended using a special shampoo to wash hair whilst listening to the music of Mozart
•A very popular native cure is allowing your bald head to be licked by a cow. It does not however clarify on how to get the cow to co-operate in this venture.
•And perhaps the best cure of all – A doctor from England recommends drinking lots of alcohol for curing baldness. Not sure if drinking alcohol will stop the hair loss, or that you are just too drunk to care.
So next time someone claims to have found a cure baldness, a cure which has evaded the best and brightest in human history, well…… ahem!
Does stress cause hair fall?
With stress you are never really sure if it is high enough to cause hair loss. One easy way to be sure is to check if your thumb nail has ridges across it. More number of ridges is known to be associated with stress high enough to cause hair loss.
Does hair fall in cycles? Is it normal?
As human beings we are a part of nature and in nature there are cycles of growth and fall. For example, you will notice that once a year the trees shed their leaves, which then grow back on their own. Similarly once or twice a year the human body is also conditioned to have a normal cycle of hair loss, which the body then spontaneously grows back on its own. Such hair fall should not last for more than 60 days. If it persists beyond that, it may be an indication of an abnormal loss.