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Hair loss? Here's how to fight it
Dr Parul Kolhe

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July 18, 2008

As you leave your teenage years behind and enter your 20s you realize that hair loss is an affliction that affects everybody, although in varying degrees of severity.

To distinguish normal hairfall from abnormal hair loss, one must understand the hair cycle. Each strand of the scalp goes through a growing phase termed 'anagen', lasting about 1000 days, a transitional phase called 'catagen', lasting 10 days (the hair stops growing during catagen) and the final resting phase called 'telogen', which lasts 100 days -- the hair then falls out of the follicle to be replaced by a new strand of hair, which will go through the same three phases.

There are roughly 1,00,000 hairs on the average scalp and thus it is said that upto 100 hair strands dying and falling out each day is normal. Most people, however, feel that they should not be losing even a single strand, which is obviously impossible. Hair, as per its life cycle, will grow and periodically fall out -- normal hair loss should not be stressed over, as the 100 strands that fall out are replaced by new ones produced by the scalp.

Certain conditions however, are known to increase this loss dramatically and require treatment/ prevention:

Stress management and eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins (especially biotin) and minerals (particularly zinc) are, therefore, extremely necessary to arrest hair loss. Consume plenty of dal, soybean, paneer, channa, egg whites, white meat like chicken or fish, nuts and leafy vegetables. If your work schedule is so crazy that you never know when you'll eat your next meal, ask your doctor to prescribe protein and multivitamin supplements.

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If you have bald patches, a family history of hair loss, a receding hairline or abnormal loss (a lot more than 100 hairs per day) despite a healthy lifestyle and diet, its time to consult your dermatologist.

Above all, be realistic -- you're not Rapunzel that your hair needs to be ankle-length, nor should you aspire to have a mane like the models you see in haircare advertisements. As you grow older, your hair will not remain as thick as it was when you were a child -- accept these changes gracefully and keep your crowning glory healthy.

Dr Parul S Kolhe is an MBBS and holds a DDV and DNB in dermatology.

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images


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