Beautiful Hair: Through Thick and Thin
Each day, women are bombarded with advertisements for products and
services to improve their hair. While some of these products may
enhance appearance, they also can contribute to hair loss.
Breaking through the myths of hair loss and hair care is the first step to maintaining beautiful hair for life.
Dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, M.D., clinical associate professor
in the department of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of
Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., dispelled traditional myths about hair
care and discussed how poor hair care can contribute to hair loss.
"Hair loss affects 80 million men and women and while it isn't
life-threatening, it can cause emotional distress," said Dr. Draelos.
"Disease, genetic predisposition and even poor cosmetic grooming
practices all cause hair loss. Even simple changes in your hair care
routine can result in healthier hair."
Myth #1 - Dandruff does not contribute to hair loss.
is caused by a fungus known as malazzesia globosa. This fungus is
commonly found floating in the air which is why dandruff can be
treated, but not cured. In addition to the scaling which characterizes
dandruff, the condition also can lead to hair loss.
Studies have shown that with only 90 minutes of continuous
scratching by the fingernails, it is possible to remove all of the
cuticular scale, a protective covering on individual hairs, off of a
hair shaft. This loss leaves the hair shaft weakened and permanently
damaged, making it easily susceptible to breakage and hair loss.
"The most effective dandruff shampoos and conditioners contain
zinc pyrithione," advised Dr. Draelos. "These ingredients leave behind
thin plate-like pieces of medicine on the scalp to prevent regrowth of
the fungus, thus acting as a preventive measure for both dandruff and
the hair loss associated with scratching."
Myth #2 - Prescription shampoos treat scalp diseases, but also damage hair.
two most common scalp diseases are dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis,
which is characterized by both redness and scaling. "People often view
products that treat these conditions as harsh and medicinal," explained
Dr. Draelos. "These misconceptions have led many people to choose to
live with the scalp itching rather than treat it with what they fear
are harmful chemicals."
Technological advances now allow prescription shampoos to have
the necessary medication to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
while also containing the same mild cleansers found in cosmetic
shampoos. "These potent prescription antifungals remain on the scalp,
preventing reoccurrence and ultimately helping keep hair healthy," said
Myth #3 - As hair turns gray, permanent waves and color treatments should be stronger.
As people age, they lose melanin, the pigment that gives the
hair color. To retain a youthful look, many people dye their hair. Hair
dye interacts with the melanin already present in hair to produce the
final hair color, but gray hair is less likely to dye as dark as hair
that contains more melanin. Also, as hair ages, the hair shaft becomes
finer, and thinner hair shafts are more susceptible to chemical damage
from permanent waves and coloring.
"Hair growth slows with age, meaning the same hair is often
chemically treated multiple times. The more the hair is treated, the
more damage is done and the more chance for hair breakage," stated Dr.
Draelos. "As hair ages, perming and coloring solutions should be weaker
and be left in contact with the hair for as short a period as possible."
Myth #4 - Blow drying hair with heat gives the hair body.
drying hair is a common morning ritual for many people. While it is a
quick, convenient way to dry and style hair, blow drying damages hair
as the high heat from a blow dryer can actually boil the water in the
hair shaft leaving it brittle. In addition, vigorous towel rubbing or
combing of wet hair also can cause hair loss, since wet hair is more
elastic and more vulnerable to breakage than dry hair.
"Rather than blow dry, the hair should be allowed to air dry,
with styling and combing occurring once the hair is partially dry,"
recommended Dr. Draelos. "This will provide excellent body with less
opportunity for hair shaft damage."
"Hair Loss Awareness Month is a good time to refine your hair
care routine. Keep your hair healthy by eating a well-balanced diet,
avoiding overprocessing with chemicals and using styling tools that are
flexible and easily slip through hair," advised Dr. Draelos. "If you
are experiencing itching or hair loss, visit your dermatologist to
explore a treatment that will work best for you."