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Hair loss and its causes

Question : I SUFFERED from cancer when I was five. Due to chemotherapy, I had drastic loss of hair. Later, by applying oil, my hair grew back. The newly-grown hair used to be thick and curly but by the age of 13, I noticed it had became thinner. I sought help from hair experts and was told that dandruff had made my hair weak. I am undergoing treatment at a hair care centre but it is not effective, as there are some parts of my scalp where hair does not grow. I am using an anti-dandruff shampoo to control the dandruff. Is there anything I can do?

Answer : DANDRUFF is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, with itching and flaking of the scalp. In some cases, it can also affect the ears, eyebrows and forehead. Dandruff scales usually occur as small, round, white-to-grey patches on the scalp and they grow in size with the accumulation of dirt and oil. If the dandruff is persistent, accompanied by itching and inflammation, it could indicate another skin condition, such as seborrhea (waxy, tan flakes) or psoriasis (fish-like scales). Dandruff is not dangerous nor does it cause balding. Although its specific cause is unknown, a fungal yeast called Pityrosporum ovate is believed to be the main culprit. It can be managed and controlled.

A dry and scaly scalp is usually a sign of poor circulation. Anti-free radical nutrients such as beta-


carotene, vitamins C, E, zinc and selenium are vital in promoting healthy blood circulation and preventing oxidative damage. Selenium is an essential mineral that helps fight the fungus that causes dandruff. Garlic, a natural source of selenium, inhibits cell turnover. A high intake of fruit and vegetables is essential for healthier skin.

Evening primrose oil is a rich source of Omega-6 EFA that delivers 12-14 per cent gamma linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid. The intake of essential fatty acids can ease problems relating to dry skin, hair and nails.

B vitamins are essential in promoting a healthy skin or scalp. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar, which can deplete the body's B vitamins. Take it with the mineral zinc (which is also essential for healthy hair) for optimum absorption of vitamin B complex.

Reduce the intake of foods containing yeast like bread/baked goods, cheese, wine and soya sauce. Read food labels for sugar and sweetening agents that can trigger the condition.

Mild dandruff may be controlled by regularly shampooing the scalp with a non-medicated, mild anti- dandruff shampoo. Avoid strong alkaline or acidic-based hair styling products as they dry out the scalp.

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