By Dr. Willie Ong

Q. I am 38 years old and my hair has become thinner. Every time I take a bath, a lot of strands fall off. What is causing this? What can be done to cure my hair loss?

A. Normally a person would lose 50-100 strands of hair everyday. But he won’t grow bald because hair is continually replaced. Baldness results when the loss of hair is greater than the production of hair. Medically, we call it alopecia.

Alopecia totalis

means total loss of scalp hair. Alopecia universalis is a condition where all body hair is lost universally, including the eyebrows and eyelashes. Alopecia areata means you have certain areas of bald patches on the head. If someone calls you alopecia, you have the right to pull his hair.

Causes of Hair Loss

But seriously, the most common reason for baldness is hereditary. Blame your parents. There is a well-known male pattern of baldness, which creeps at the side of the head then affects the crown of the head. In severe cases, some men only have hair at the back and the side only. Hair loss affects us guys more often because of our high testosterone levels. Think macho and sexually-active like Bruce Willis. (It’s a fallacy but it’s nice to put a positive spin to it.)

Certain diseases like anemia or an underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. Weird diets, crash diets, sudden weight loss and vitamin deficiencies can damage your hair, too. Some women experience hair loss after childbirth, but their hair usually returns to normal in a year.

Is there an Infection?

Dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can cause constant itching and scratching leading again to falling hair. In these cases, use shampoo with tar. Tar is very effective when used as directed.

Check the hair for lice, too. Head lice is everywhere and spreads easily from person to person. Use a fine-toothed comb (suyod) to remove the lice. Then use Kwell shampoo to kill the lice. Be sure other household members are treated too. Again, check the instructions and use only as directed.

Is It Stress?

Too much stress and involuntary pulling of the hair (stress, overworked, no girlfriend) can lead to bald patches. Any serious illness, radiation therapy and chemotherapy often produce temporary hair loss, too.

Choose Hairdressers with Soft Hands

Too much bleaching, dyeing, and tight braiding suffocates your hair. Look for a hairstylist with gentle hands. You may also adopt a more natural hairstyle. And if your hair has been damaged already, try cutting your hair shorter so it can grow evenly.

Regarding shampoos and conditioners, find one that is gentle to your hair. Don’t use body soap for the hair. It’s not the right Ph, says dermatologist Dr. Katty Go Estrada.

When shampooing, Dr. Katty advises us to use lots and lots of water. Make sure your hair is very wet before applying the shampoo. Otherwise, the dirt in your hair will just go around and around.

Medical Treatment

Medically, doctors prescribe minoxidil or finasteride to regrow one’s hair. It wasn’t meant to do that but doctors just found these drugs’ side effects to be useful for balding people. Consult your doctor first. Lastly, if these drugs fail, getting a wig and undergoing hair transplantation are the next options.

Natural Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are natural methods we can try first. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contains lots of anti-oxidants, may provide protection for the hair follicles and promote hair growth. Foods high in biotin, an essential component of healthy hair, may help too. Good sources of biotin are oats, green peas, soybeans, walnuts and brown rice.

Soy products like soybeans and tofu may also decrease the formation of dihydrotestosterone. A hormone implicated in the process of hair loss. Reducing mental stress will help, too.

Hair Care Advice

Other natural treatment options include shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica. Aloe Vera, vitamin C and E, and jojoba oils are beneficial for the hair. Do not use products which are not natural for the hair.

Common sense tells us to avoid too much sunlight and seawater since this can damage the hair. An afternoon of Manila’s polluted air will also leave your hair damp, dense and dirty. Can you use air-conditioning?

When taking a bath, be gentle to yourself. Hair is fragile when wet. Softly pat your hair dry instead of rubbing it all over. Invest in a soft tip hair brush and stroke gently. And lastly, no hair pulling and no rough fighting in bed. Be gentle to your hair.

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