Rainproof Your Hair
An expert-backed defence plan for hair loss this season
OVERCAST SKIES, the smell of wet earth, piping hot tea, roasted corn and, oops … soaked hair! The romance of rainy days can be blown to pieces with the way your hair looks and feels. Here's what rain can do to your hair and some tips on damage control.
Stickiness, greasiness and dandruff are common during the rainy season. Increased atmospheric humidity and wetting hair in the monsoon showers can cause this. Civic authorities flush chlorine to clean potable water during this season. An excess of it can bleach and damage your hair. Also, fungus thrives in moist conditions and results in sticky, itchy dandruff. A medicated shampoo such as Nizoral is good, but if dandruff persists you may need to see a dermatologist. Untreated dandruff over a period of time tends to lead to scalp irritation and chronic hair loss. It is most important to identify and treat it early.
Hair Loss in Women
Avoid hot hair treatments (such as perming and straightening) or colouring in this season. These are not advisable because such treatments need time to settle on your strands, and this may not be the best time to get them done. When combined with moisture (due to humidity), hair treatments tend to weaken and damage the hair shaft and promote breakage and hair loss. Always air or towel-dry your hair in the monsoon to avoid damage, brittleness, split ends and, ultimately, hair loss.
Restrict the number of hair products you use-stick to a shampoo and conditioner. Avoid hair sprays. Wash your hair with a good quality shampoo every time you get wet in the rain. A leave-in conditioner after a hair wash protects your hair from damage and reduces frizz to a large extent. Also, avoid rubber bands; they pinch at your hair and chip away at the cuticle. When you remove them (especially from wet hair), they pull away hair strands. Use only soft fabric tie-backs for your hair. Drop hair brushes. Un-tangle the knotty strands after applying a leave-in conditioner and combing well. Brushing wet hair causes breakage and hair loss. Use the conditioner more on the shaft and ends rather than on the scalp. Special oils with protein strengthening properties also help.
Hair Loss in Men
Rain or no rain, nothing distresses the average man more than hair loss. Balding in men follows a reasonably predictable pattern. It starts with a receding hairline, followed by thinning on top of the head. The treatment has to be systemic. Here's how.
Blocking the root cause for hair loss-an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase-is the best way to prevent hair from thinning. The most frequently used drug for this is oral finasteride in the dose of 1 mg per day, however it may have some side effects, so do not use it without a dermatologist's advice. The effect of the drug becomes apparent only after nine to 12 months of treatment.
The only medically-approved treatment to stimulate growth is the application of the drug minoxidil. It is believed to act by improving blood circulation in the follicles.
This, in turn, helps take the follicles back into the anagen or growing phase, thereby ensuring growth of new hair. Minoxidil works really well, but it must be remembered that regrowth is reversed once you stop it.
Supporting the treatment with a diet that is rich in protein, vitamins and antioxidants is vital for best results. Male-pattern hair loss is not a disease. Discuss your condition, understand the stage it is in and check with your dermatologist before initiating treatment.
Boost the protein in your diet to keep your tresses stress-free. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Spinach, kale, fenugreek, paneer and eggs are good hair-nourishing foods. Soak some fenugreek seeds in water overnight. The next day, drain the water and drink it. If it is too bitter for you, add a teaspoon of honey.
Drink two cups of water just as you wake up, followed by three almonds, after breakfast.
Dr Aparna Santhanam is a Mumbai-based dermatologist and author of Let's Talk Hair, Rs 250, Collins.