When you brush your hair, do you find yourself spending more time getting the hairs out of the brush than actually brushing? Do you take your hijab off after a long day at work and see hairs dropping onto your ceramic floors? Then you are suffering from the most common hair problem out there: hair loss! We spoke with Dr. Haya Ali Al Manai, consultant in dermatology, beauty, and laser treatments at Hamad Medical Corporation, to find out more about this troubling problem.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss is a problem that can occur at any time and to anyone. Hair goes through three different growth stages:
- The first stage is where the hair grows and lengthens from the follicles. This process takes 2-5 years.
- The second stage is where the hair starts to get weak and separate from the follicles. This process takes about 2 weeks.
- The third stage is where the hair breaks from the follicles and falls. This process takes 3 weeks.
If anything goes wrong at any of these stages, the result is hair loss. There are many potential factors at play:
- Nutrient deficiency – especially iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins.
- Hormonal imbalances
- Thyroid issues
- Genetic / inherited hair loss
- Mental and emotional pressures
- Skin conditions like lupus, psoriasis or fungus
- Certain medications
- Post-natal depression
- Excessive use of chemicals on the hair, like harsh shampoos and dyes
What causes hair loss in teens?
During adolescence, hormonal and physiological changes and disturbances occur which can lead to hair loss. Teenagers these days have bad habits when it comes to nutrition, like eating fast food that is almost completely devoid of vitamins and essential nutrients needed for hair and body growth. Energy drinks and other highly caffeinated drinks cause a defect in the way the body absorbs essential nutrients like iron and vitamins, therefore causing hair to fall.
It appears more young people suffer from hair loss, is there an age where hair loss is common?
There is no definite age where hair loss happens. However, the percentage of hair fall in early childhood is far less than that in teens and adults. What is noted is that children’s nutrition is much better than that of adults. Sometimes when hair loss appears at a young age in children, this means that the child is not receiving enough care or nutrients.
Can hair loss be genetic or inherited?
Some genetic and hereditary conditions cause hair fall, so it is important that the patient is asked if any family members suffer from this problem. This is usually more common in those who suffer from pattern baldness or male pattern baldness. This causes hair loss at the front of the head, and can actually affect both men and women. It is caused by the hormone testosterone in specific cells in the body changing to a much stronger hormone called dehydrotestosterone through an enzyme (5 alpha reductase). This in turn damages and weakens the hair follicles, causing hair to become very fragile, and eventually leading to baldness.
What are the treatments for hair loss?
Treatments can only be determined after the hair is examined and the right diagnosis is given. Each person’s hair is different.
What are the best ways to prevent hair loss?
I recommend good nutrition, consuming food that is packed with iron, as well as vitamins B and D. Using moisturizing hair care products also helps. Once a week you can use natural oils to moisturize your hair. Avoid chemical products that cause the hair to become dry and damaged, like regularly using hair dyes.
Is there really a cure for hair loss or just a way to minimize it?
The treatment depends on the cause of the hair loss. Some treatments are quick and simple and others that require a lot of dedication. For example, hair loss due to nutrient deficiency is easy to treat and fast, while genetic male pattern baldness can take longer to cure.
Is the environment or the weather a factor in hair loss?
There isn’t much research linking environmental factors to hair loss. However, one of the most famous studies about this was done in Switzerland and it showed that more hair loss occurs in the summer months less in the spring, and even less in winter.
Hair loss can be classified as:
- Cicatricial: in Latin meaning scarring. This means it is serious and is caused by diseases like fungal infections, bacterial infections, vitamin deficiency, trauma, and much more. For this type, if not treated quickly, hair is lost forever.
- Non-Cicatricial: in Latin meaning non-scarring. This is treatable with time and is easy to treat. What causes this are things we see every day like psychologic upset, post-partum depression, nutritional problems, fever, surgery, stress. This is easy to diagnose and avoid.
“The teeth and nails are huge indicators of hair loss caused by genetics or disease. The appearance of the skin can indicate diseases inside the body,” said Dr. Hassan Al-Abdulla.
So there you have it—hair loss is a problem that everyone faces at some point in their lives, and the best way to deal with it is to take care of yourself with a healthy diet packed with nutrients to give your body all the support it needs to grow strong, beautiful hair.
Natural Remedy – Heavenly Hair Mask
Try this naturally moisturizing hair mask today and let us know how it works!
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 egg yolk
- Blend all the ingredients in a blender until they are very smooth
- Thoroughly wet your hair
- Evenly apply the mixture throughout your hair (focus on the roots)
- Use a shower cap or wrap a towel around your hair to lock in the moisture
- Allow 30 minutes for best results – time to relax and unwind
- Wash it out and let it air dry
- Voila! Shiny and soft hair for the day!
Check out our August issue for a henna hair mask recipe that will give your locks that gorgeous natural red-brown color (with far fewer chemicals).