Hair fall making you stressed? Well, Dr Smriti Naswa Singh shares you are losing hair and what you can do to prevent that.
Silky, poker-straight hair or gorgeous, thick curls— our hair is the invisible crown that you never take off. So, if you notice your crown shipping aka hair fall, you could be suffering from diffuse hair fall.
This means loss of hair from all over the scalp without visible inflammation.
"In monsoons, in general, the maximum number of patients in dermatology OPDs in India, come in with fungal infections. However, this year 'diffuse hair fall' seems to be the number one problem. I have noticed that patients have been having hair fall since April with definitive increase post-July. I personally am seeing anywhere between 5-10 cases of ‘diffuse hair fall’ in every OPD," says Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist, Fortis hospital, Mulund.
Dr Singh explains that our hair growth has three phases. Majority of the hair on your scalp is in the growing or ‘Anagen phase’ while the rest are in resting ‘Telogen phase’ and one per cent are in the falling or ‘Catagen phase’.
She says, "When there is a stress to the body (physical or mental), the growing hair phase suddenly stops and shifts to resting hair phase (which is a period of 3 months). After about 3 months of the stress, suddenly all hair in resting phase fall - this is called ‘Telogen Effluvium’, where around 50-70 per cent of the hair starts falling suddenly."
So, here are some causes behind this:
Vicious Cycle Of Stress and Hair Loss
"Stress could be triggered by long-term illness, hospitalisation, surgery, post-delivery, less than 10 per cent bodyweight loss in less than one month (e.g. through crash diet) or mental stress. COVID19 is one such infection which has been noted to cause diffuse hair fall this year. Interestingly, many people are coming to us who haven't had COVID19 and still are having acute Telogen Effluvium. There can be multiple reasons for that - mental stress due to the lockdown, general impact of the pandemic, economic setbacks suffered during this time, lost jobs, working overtime while working from home, etc. Some people have shown concurrent itchy scalp due to performing household chores, leading to sweaty scalp and increase in dandruff; this coupled with overall physical & mental exhaustion, erratic sleep and meal schedules etc. is wreaking havoc.
Using Harsh Shampoos
"Interestingly, one thing that I have found common amongst the many patients coming in with hair fall concerns is their tendency to wash hair twice a day; especially if they are working in healthcare settings. They are seen to be using harsh chemicals like Chlorxylenol (a disinfectant) to wash hair, leaving the hair brittle, fragile and prone to damage. Above all, monsoon season beckons with it hair fall season; where humidity in the atmosphere doesn't let the hair dry - so combing wet hair breaks the hair from the roots, leading to more hair fall – while combing dry hair breaks the hair from the ends, causes split ends!"
"While discussing with the patients, I try to find out the root cause and try to solve each one of them. Patients are investigated for nutritional deficiencies, iron deficiency, and hypo or hyperfunctioning thyroid, and treat the correctable deficiencies. In addition to that, supplements like Biotin are usually prescribed, along with some hair lotions/ serums, to support hair growth. Patients are guided to consume diets rich in Vitamins & Minerals which are abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains; they are encouraged to exercise, have an active lifestyle and ensure quality and timely sleep."
Impatience About Recovery
"Usually the patients with acute Telogen Effluvium or diffuse hair fall recover in 3-6-9 months, so patience is the key. Usually, all the hair and its density also come back, so one need not worry about going bald or search for wigs online. In certain cases, especially amongst those who delay seeking treatment, the hair fall can become chronic (which is also treatable but can take more time) and in some cases, a genetic predisposition of patterned baldness (of the crown area) can get unmasked. So seeking medical aid in time is essential, and it is even more crucial to not believe in heavily promoted miracle ‘overnight growth’ promising potions."
Here's what to do instead...
Eat plenty of colours in your diet (rainbow diet)
Reduce mental stress
Give yourself physical relaxation days
Don't get overzealous about disinfecting your hair
Don't over comb your hair with fine bristle combs
And lastly, if you are not able to handle the hair fall, seek help from a dermatologist immediately!
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