IMPORTANCE OF HAIR THROUGHOUT HISTORY —Throughout history hair has been an important symbol as indicator of gender, social, religious and professional status. In ancient Egypt the Pharaoh was never seen without a wig. The sons of Pharaoh wore their hair tied on the right side of the head, just behind the ear. Ancient medical Text of Egypt also describes an ointment containing Crocodile fat and Hippopotamus dung, which was used for restoring lost hair. Ancient Greek Physician, Hippocrates may have been the first to find a connection between sexual organs and baldness. Even in the tale of Bible, the tale of Samson shows how a man is concerned about his hair loss. Even Christian monks shaved the hairs over the crown over their head, which proclaimed their vow of chastity to the world. Similarly the Buddhist monks shaved their head completely. Even today hair continues to be an important part of self expression and self identity and it is also a universals symbol of youth.
MECHANISM OF HAIR GROWTH AND HAIR LOSS – Hair is simple in structure, but has important function. Hair is made of tough protein called Keratin. A hair follicle anchors each hair into the skin. The hair bulb forms the base of hair follicle. In the hair bulb, living cells divide and grow to build the hair shaft. Blood vessels nourish the cell in the hair bulb and deliver hormones that modify hair growth at different times of life.
CAUSE OF HAIR LOSS – There are different causes of hair loss such as – Physical stress (Surgery, Accident, illness) Pregnancy (specially after delivery), Too much vitamin A, Lack of protein, Emotional stress, Anaemia, Hypothyroidism, Vitamin B deficiency, Autoimmune related hair loss, Lupus, Dramatic weight loss, Drugs used for Cancer, some blood pressure drugs, blood thinners, Polycystic Ovarian syndrome in females and other causes of hormonal imbalance, Tricho tillomania (a impulse control disorder characterized by compulsively pulling out the hair), Ageing, anabolic steroids and most common and most important Male Pattern Baldness. Most of these causes of hair loss are corrected when the underlying causes are corrected.
MEDICINAL TREATMENTS OF HAIR LOSS – There are currently only 2 medications approved by FDA to promote hair growth in scalp.
FINASTERIDE — It is a medication that lowers DHT, through blockage of 5@ reductase. It was shown to have reduced hair loss and have positive effects on hair growth in 90% of the patients. Clinical onset of action takes 6-8 months. Dose is 1mg, qd with or without food. Side effects reported are decrease in libido, erectile dysfunction, testicular pain, benign growth in male breast. The side effects disappear with the discontinuation of the drug.
MINOXIDIL – It is a topical medication that is indicated for treatment of hair loss & is used in both men and women. Although exact mechanism of action is not known, but it has vasodilatory properties. Dose is 2-4 drops, one to two times daily in frontal and vertex area of scalp .Observed benefits include increased proliferation of dermal papillae cells, increased hair calibre, diminished telogen phase during the hair growth cycle. Side effects are Dryness and Pruritus of the scalp & rare allergic reactions.
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