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A Publication of WTVP

For years, we have been told that it is normal to experience daily hair loss of approximately 100 strands per day. For those counting, strand number 101 normally has people, especially women, asking questions.

What is it?

Alopecia is a term for hair loss, which is part of the natural cycle of hair growth. It is normal to lose hair as we wash or brush it. I am sure that at some point you have been surprised as to how much hair collects in the shower drain, and how at times you can almost make a wig with all of the hair wrapped around the bristles of your brush.

The strands of hair that are on the exterior part of your scalp are made up of dead cells. You may notice that the ends of your hair are always much more dry than the hair near your scalp. This is because that part of your hair has been dead the longest, and it has been exposed to conditions such as blow drying and straightening for the most amount of time. The living part of your hair is within the scalp. This living part of each hair follicle is called the hair shaft or hair root. This explains why a haircut does not hurt, but someone pulling your hair will have you saying “ouch!”

Once the root of the follicle halts the natural hair growth cycle, the hair falls out during the resting phase. This is part of the normal hair growth cycle. Temporary or permanent hair loss is experienced when a new hair follicle does not replace the previous strand of hair. Hair thinning is evident when the hair growth stops sporadically throughout the scalp, while balding is noticeable when whole sections of the scalp do not re-enter the re-growth stage. Those experiencing unusual hair losses where clumps of hair fall out may be diagnosed with a condition called Alopecia Areata.

Why am I experiencing this?

In the past, the main focus of hair loss was put on the hereditary traits passed on from previous generations. Although this may have a factor to play in our hair loss issues, it also revolves around the lives in which we lead today.

Everyone seems to deal with a lot of stress—some of which is self-inflicted. Believe it or not, hair, nails and skin are parts of your body that demonstrate external signs of hormonal imbalance, stress, lack of nutrition and illness. Hair loss can be attributed to such changes in our lifestyle, including prescription and non-prescription drugs. Radiation, chemotherapy, thyroid disorders and other diseases or treatments can also cause hair loss.

Am I the only one having this problem?

People of all ages experience thinning hair or balding under different conditions and timeframes. Hormones have been known to change women’s hair texture or cause thinning immediately after having a baby. Stress related to major life events such as divorce or loss of a loved one can potentially be related to hair loss as well.

There are diagnosed conditions that can lead to hair loss, such as thyroid disorders and cancer, and can affect a person of any age. Children can experience hair loss issues that may be linked to disorders such as Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder that causes an individual to have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair.

How do I prevent it?

Our hair follicles need the appropriate blood flow to maintain a healthy growth cycle. A simple way to stimulate blood flow can start with a simple scalp rub or massage. Another option is to make sure we do not deprive the necessary blood flow by taking control of our stress, lack of nutrition or intake of non-prescription drugs.
Adjusting our lives to manage emotional and physical stress is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Taking a more positive approach to life versus always focusing on the negative, or cherishing what we have or are thankful for versus becoming frustrated with what we struggle to achieve, can certainly change our mind frame and prevent potential hair loss.

Our diets also have an effect on our hair. Sometimes our daily diet does not include all of the essential vitamins our bodies require. Vitamin supplements can help us bridge this gap. Iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin A, B, C, E and whole, protein-rich foods are associated with the health of your hair.

Non-prescription drugs are dangerous to your body for many reasons. It goes without saying that the consumption of illegal drugs can cause your body to react in ways that can cause health issues. Such additional stresses that are put on all parts of our body can lead to hair loss. This does not exclude performance-enhancing drugs which can be legally purchased at local vitamin stores. The bottom line is that taking things that are not right for your body may cause your hair to fall out, temporarily or permanently.

Will it grow back?

Hair re-growth can depend on the severity of the hair loss. As our conditions change from what led us to hair loss, we may notice that our hair might grow back with a different texture than it once had. We may also notice that our hair may not grow as fast as it used to, or vice versa. However, if the hair cycle has completely shut down, re-growth may not be a possibility.

Are there any solutions for thinning hair or bald spots?

There are many hair systems which help “fill in” areas of your hair that need extra attention. The marketplace is filled with different products that offer the possibility to help achieve the desired look.

Hair extensions have recently become more mainstream, and are helpful in filling in fine or thinning hair. Real human hair extensions can provide a natural look and can be treated in the same ways you would treat your natural hair. They provide the flexibility to comb, dry, curl, straighten and even color the extensions in same ways in which you would your natural hair.

For patchy spots of baldness, a glue-in hair extension system may be an alternative. Although it may not be ideal, and might be a bit uncomfortable, hair is actually glued to your scalp where hair growth is not evident.
What about wigs and hair pieces?

There are different options when it comes to the quality, make and “breathability” of wigs and hair pieces. Full-head wigs are available, as well as hair pieces that cover the crown of your head.

Synthetic wigs provide ease in maintenance and are simple to style. Real human hair wigs appear to have a more natural look and can be curled and styled like normal hair. Initially, people will gravitate towards real human hair wigs simply because they want to make sure their wig looks real. However, quality synthetic wigs are looking more and more natural. As you might expect, human hair wigs are more expensive than synthetic wigs.

The best look for any wig is to select one that fits your preferred style and matches your skin tone. Quality wig manufacturers offer a variety of colors and blends so the wig compliments your face.

The make and quality of the wig must be considered when deciding upon a wig. Just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. The quality of the wig will provide different comfort levels. An adjustable wig can provide a better fit at different times of hair loss, and the breathability of a wig will affect whether you are able to wear it for long periods of time without your head perspiring. It is useless to have a wig sit on your dresser instead of your head. Make sure you purchase a wig you will wear and one that gives you the confidence you are looking for. TPW

Paola Hinton is the owner of Five Senses Spa and Salon, Peoria’s first full-service spa and salon for men and women. Five Senses is located in the Jones Bros. Plaza at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie and online at www.FiveSensesSpaAndSalon.com.

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