Hairy Situation?


Look who’s back! Back again! Dermatologist are experts on hair, skin and nails. Dr. Sandy was nice enough to write a guest post all things hair. Here it is:

As a dermatologist, I love skin, hair and nails.  As an Italian, I know how important hair is to your image.  Most people want healthy beautiful hair on our scalps.  Some men want beards.  Most women do not want facial hair.  Some cultures want body hair.  Other cultures do not want body hair.  Hair, or lack thereof, often defines us as much as our skin color and skin hygiene.  Aside from dermatologists and hair dressers, there  are so many people and companies who “specialize” in helping people grow more hair or diminish hair. In the July issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, Drs DiMarco and McMichael attempted to debunk some hair loss myths.  The article is really good.  I plan to restate some of their truths and add a few of my own.


Telogen effluvium affects most people sometime in their life.  It is hair shedding that lasts a few months after a physically or emotionally stressful event…most commonly after having a baby.  It usually resolves on its own but can persist especially if you have low iron, thyroid issues, chronic stress or take certain medications.


Studies show that by age 50 years, 50% of men and women will suffer with some hair loss.  Topical minoxidil treatment is one of the most studied and recommended treatments for hair loss.  Unfortunately, a few people may actually have some hair shedding in the first few weeks of starting minoxidil…this can be frustrating but it is temporary.  Also frustrating is that it can take up to 12 months of daily minoxidil use to see benefit.


There are so many natural remedies and supplements touted to grow hair.  One should consider their research and financial claims.  Biotin and iron have been studied to help hair growth.  Biotin helps if you are low in biotin.  I don’t usually test for this.  I was taught that your iron stores (ferritin) need to be at least 90ng/ml for optimal hair growth conditions.  I often check this. Onion juice and rosemary oil have also been shown to have some benefit in clinical trials.


Since hair grows from the “stem” cells in the scalp, typically whatever you do to your hair will not affect how hair grows. Traumatizing your hair with wearing tight braids, vigorous hair brushing, hair pulling, excessive heat or chemicals will lead to hair breakage and subsequent hair loss however.


Thankfully there is research being done in maximizing the hair on our head.  There are clinical trials being done for new medications to treat alopecia areata as well as hair cooling devices to decrease hair loss due to chemotherapeutic agents as well as hair loss due to aging.  Studies looking at platelet rich plasma, PRP, for hair loss are very promising.


All of that deals with not having enough hair on the scalp.  As for having too much hair on the body;  one can shave, tweeze, wax, sugar, pluck or laser.  On a personal note, laser hair reduction is one of the best things I have done for myself and I highly recommend it.  Please remember that in the state of Arkansas, any laser is considered a medical treatment and MUST be performed by a physician or supervised by a physician.


“Hair”  is to a skintastic day for everyone. Dr. Sandy


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