Alopecia / Hair Loss in Men & Women

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Alopecia / Hair Loss

By Josef  CHAI, Auslab Research & Compounding Chemist Australia

Hair covers most of our body. It is constantly growing, and is constantly shed. A healthy person loses around 50 - 100 hairs from the scalp every day. Losing more hair as we get older is natural; however, for a number of reasons some people lose hair faster than others. Hair loss can affect both men and women at any age. Some typoes of hair loss are temporary - hair will grow back but sometimes hair loss is permanent. There are treatments which slow hair loss in some cases.

Hi, my name is Josef CHAI, am a registered pharmacist worked for Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and now doing research work on skin care, hair loss, anti-aging, anti-cancer,am also consultant for Compounding Chemist Australia. I would like to share with you some pharmacy care information on aopecia and my personal counseling and recommendation for alopecia treatment and prevention. I hope this will be helpful in your understanding and self management of alopecia.

Hair is made form the protein keratin, the same substance as fingernails. It gorws out of a hair follicle just under the surface of the skin. There are about 100,000 hair follicles on the average scalp.

Hair grows at the rate of about 1cm a month. Each hair grows for two to five years. Eventually, the hair stops growing and after a few months, it falls out. The hair follicle then starts the process of growing a new hair. If this process is disrupted, hair may fall out early or not be replaced. leading to thinning hair and partial or total baldness. This is known as alopecia.

Types & Causes

Male pattern baldness

* Most common types of hair loss affecting men.

* Hair follicles stop growing normal hair and grow soft, fine, pale hair instead. Eventually hair stops growing completely.

* Occurs in families, and is related to hormone levels in the blood

* Hair is usually lost from the front of the head, especially the sides, and on the top back of the head.

Female pattern baldness

*Similar to male pattern baldness.

* Hair is lost from the top and centre of the head, without a recding hair line,.

* Loss is less prominent than in men, occurring as thinning at first.

Alopecia areota

*Sudden hair loss in a particular area or patch of the scalp or body. It is thought to be caused by an immune system disorder.

Medicines

* Some medicines used to treat high blood pressure, cander, some antidepressants, blood thinning medicines, and high dose vitamin A can cause hair loss.

Skin Infections

*eg Ringworm of the scalp(Tinea capitis). Ringworm is a fungal infection which causes a scaly patch on the scalp. Hair is lost in and around this patch

Scarring

* Areas of the scalp or skin that have been scarred lose hair follicles and new hair cannot grow. Scarring can be due to injuries, burns, some skin infections and diseases, and some cancers.

Stress and illness

* Serious illness, such as high fever, infection or surgery may cause hair loss a few months after the illness.

* Other conditions that can cause hair loss include thyroid problems and AIDS

* Some women experience hair loss a few months after childbirth

Poor diet

* Poor nutrition, including a lack of protein, iron and zinc can cause hair loss.

Cancer treatment

* Chemotherary medicines and radiation treatments can affect hair follicles and cause growing hairs to fall out.

Beauty treatments

* Overuse of hair colours, perming solutions etc, can damage the scalp and cause hair loss.

* Regular pulling hair into tight hairstyles (eg tight roller, tight plaits) can also cause hair loss.

Important

See your doctor if :

* you are suddenly losing hair, and

* you feel unwell

Hair loss may make you feel unhappy, or even angry. Understanding why you are losing hair may help.Talk to your doctor about what is causing your hair loss, and how you fell about it.

Treatment

Male/female pattern baldness:

* Minoxidil solution can prevent further hair loss and hair may grow back in some cases. Ask your pharmacist or doctor.

* Your doctor may prescribe a medicine for some men with male pattern baldness.

* Treatments work best if sharted early in hair loss. They must be used for several months before hair regrowth will occur.

* Once a treatment is stopped hair loss will continue as before.

Other Hair loss treatments:

* Hair usually grows back in alopecia areata, but differs in each person. Cortisone and other skin treatments may be used. Ask your Pharmacist or doctor

* Fungal skin infections are treated with antifungal tablets. Ask your doctor.

* Hair loss due to medicines, stress, childbirth, some medical conditions or poor diet usually grows back once the cause is removed or treated.

* Hair lost during cancer treatment will usually grow back after treatment is finished.

* Hair transplants and other surgeries can reduce the size of balkd patches.

* Wigs and other cosmetic treatments such as hair weaving and tinted sprays can hide hair loss.

NB: There is no permanent cure for male/ female pattern baldness or conditions where hair follicles are permanently damaged.

Sef care

* Be aware that treatments for hair loss take time to work. Treatment for male/ female pattern baldness must be taken continually to prevent further hair loss.

Hair loss doesn't make a person less of a man or a woman. Focus on things that you like about yourself.

* Remember skin on the scalp is very prone to sunburn. Always wear a hat when outside, and use SPF30+ sunscreen to exposed skin.

* Learn to relax.

By Josef  CHAI, Auslab Research & Compounding Chemist Australia

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