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Hair Problems

Hair Loss continued...

Certain hair care practices, such as wearing tight ponytails or weaves, or regularly bleaching or perming the hair, can also lead to hair loss. Some people compulsively pull out their hair. This psychological disorder is called trichotillomania.

When hair loss is related to a medication, stopping the drug usually prevents further hair loss, and the hair will eventually grow back. Hair also tends to grow back after most illnesses, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Wearing a wig or hat can hide the hair loss until the hair returns. Hair transplants are a more permanent hair-replacement solution.

Hair lost to male-pattern and female-pattern baldness won't grow back on its own, but there are medications that can help slow hair loss and even regrow hair. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a topical medicine that is available over the counter to treat men and women. Finasteride (Propecia) is a pill that is available to men only by prescription. Injectable cortisone may also help regrow hair lost to certain conditions.

Hair Damage

Blow-drying, straightening, highlighting, and perming regularly can wreak havoc on hair, leaving it brittle, broken, and unmanageable. Split ends and dry hair are just two casualties of overstyling. 

Excessive styling and heat can cause split ends, which occur when the protective outermost layer of hair (the cuticle) is damaged and peels back. Some treatments for split ends include:

  • Brush gently with a soft, flexible hairbrush; don't overbrush.
  • Avoid towel-drying. If you do dry your hair with a towel, rub it gently.
  • Use a conditioner, and leave on a deep conditioner about once a week.

 

Hair needs moisture and a certain amount of oil to keep it looking healthy. A number of things can dry out hair, including:

  • Washing it too often
  • Using a harsh shampoo
  • Excessive blow-drying or use of a curling iron or straightening iron
  • Exposure to sun, wind, and dry air
  • Perms and dyes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain medications

 To keep the moisture in your hair, try these tips:

  • Don't wash your hair every day unless you have a scalp condition such as dandruff which needs daily shampooing for control. When you do wash your hair, use a gentle shampoo that's designed to infuse moisture into dry hair. Also, use a conditioner daily.
  • Limit blow-drying and use of hot irons, hot rollers, or curling irons.
  • Increase the time between hair treatments, such as dyes and perms.
  • Wear a hat on cold, windy days and put on a bathing cap when swimming.

 

Greasy Hair

The scalp contains a natural oil called sebum, which helps keep the skin lubricated. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. Sometimes these glands work overtime and produce too much oil, leading to a greasy scalp.  Greasy hair can look dull, limp, and lifeless, and it may be more difficult to manage. To treat greasy hair, try washing with a gentle shampoo that is specially formulated to control sebum.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on June 28, 2012

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