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How to Prevent Hair loss

How to Prevent Hairloss

There are mainly two FDA approved medications that are used to prevent hair loss.

Propecia is a drug that acts by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone by preventing an enzyme called 5 alpha reductase. It is taken orally as a 1mg pill. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that it slows down hair loss and stops miniaturisation. The consensus among the medical community is to use 1mg every day. However I do believe that there is room for manipulation with the dose. The average serum half-life of Propecia is 5-8 hours. There is evidence that 1mg Propecia suppresses serum DHT for 7 days – hence the effects of Propecia should last more than 24 hours. Whilst prescribing Propecia, the advice I give my patients is that based on the evidence, the molecule could be equally effective if taken every alternate day.

Minoxidil is a topical solution used for the prevention of hair loss. It acts by increasing the blood supply to the scalp. It is applied topically twice a day. It comes in strengths of 2% and 5%. There are stronger versions of Minoxidil which the manufacturer claims can be used once a day.

 

How to Regrow your Hair

1. Minoxidil

There are a variety of products available in pharmacies which claim to stop or reduce hair loss, some more successful than others. Probably the most popular product is Minoxidil. 

Originally used in tablet form as a medicine to treat high blood pressure, it was noticed that some patients being treated with Minoxidil experienced excessive hair growth as a side-effect. Further research showed that by applying Minoxidil in solution form directly to the scalp, could prove to be beneficial to those experiencing topical hair loss.

2. Propecia

Propecia is an oral medication manufactured by Merck. Propecia acts by blocking the conversion of the male sex hormone testosterone to a metabolite called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone responsible for male pattern baldness. Propecia acts by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called 5 alphareductase. Studies have shown that men who suffer hair loss have high levels of 5 alphareductase in and around the follicles.

Propecia causes a significant drop in both scalp and blood concentrations of DHT. Studies have shown that DHT levels decrease by up to 68.8% and testosterone levels increase by up to 9.1% in men who take 1mg of Propecia a day.

Propecia was initially marketed for prostate enlargement as Proscar which is 5mg of Finasteride (the active molecule in Propecia). In 1998 the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) approved 1mg Finasteride for use in male pattern baldness. Studies have shown that 80% of men taking 1mg Finasteride either kept their hair or grew more.

In the crown more than 30% showed moderate improvement and 5% showed significant improvement in hair quality. However only 4% of men showed moderate improvement to the hair in the front. Also, hair counts were increased mostly in the crown.

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How to Cure Hair Loss

Could something as basic as hair loss nutrition really contribute to excess shedding of hair? Does nutrition have an important role to play in helping hair to regrow?

Problems caused by modern diets

Modern diets can be blamed for a number of nutritional deficiencies that may contribute to hair loss.

  • Refining of whole grains reduces the B vitamin content.
  • Overcooking of vegetables destroys B vitamins.
  • Most people have a lack of raw leafy greens in the diet.
  • The vitamins that have been ingested are directed to aid in the digestion of excess refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour that are deficient in B vitamins.
  • Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol rob the body of vital nutrients.
  • High levels of cholesterol are linked with the production of DHT which is a major contributor to male pattern type baldness.
  • Excessive salt intake may influence hair loss due to its tendency to accummulate in tissue.
  • Low fibre intake inhibits the digestion process thus reducing the body's ability to pass nutrients into the blood stream.

These nutritional inadequacies affect all aspects of health and well-being but do they have any relevance to hair loss specifically?

The answer is yes - poor nutrition can cause hair loss because the body will ration out nutrients in the order of vital organs first, and hair last. Improved nutrition will not result in new hair growth, but it will minimize shedding and support other treatments that encourage regrowth.

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Tips to Prevent Hair Loss

Here are a few steps that can help prevent hair loss.

  1. Wash hair in warm/cool water, not very hot water
  2. Try to avoid blow drying hair. If you must, always towel dry first
  3. Hair is made up of keratin (a protein), so a high protein diet may help
  4. Wash hair at least once a day as it helps to keep the scalp clean and avoid any build up of sweat which could block the pores and cause hair loss. Regular washing also helps in preventing scaly conditions like dandruff
  5. Try not to scratch your scalp with finger nails - this in turn traumatises hair
  6. Using a conditioner makes your hair softer and also prevents hair loss- make sure the conditioner is applied to the hair shafts and not to the scalp
  7. Make sure products like gel and wax are applied to the hair shafts. If applied to the scalp try to wash off the next morning so as not to block the pores
  8. It helps to wear a sun screen for your hair or using a hat in strong sun

 

 

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