Natural Hair Care Tips

Hidden dangers to your hair Part 1

We all know that excessive hair-styling and swimming can leave your hair in bad condition.
But a new book reveals the damaging effect on your scalp of the modern day medications we use every day, including aspirin, vitamins, HRT and antibiotics.

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Here, we look at how everyday medications can damage your hair

  • Aspirin – The problem: A low dose of aspirin (anything from half to two a day) can lower haemoglobin levels, which results in a mild anaemia and iron deficiency. Iron is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of hair and a deficiency can cause thinning and shedding hair. The solution: Take a blood test to confirm anaemia and take iron supplements on a doctor’s advice. Eat iron-rich food such as leafy vegetables and red meat.
  • Vitamin C – The problem: ‘Very many people take vitamin C to prevent colds,’ says trichologist Philip Kingsley. ‘But often they take much more than they need. Although the body is said to flush out excess vitamin C, there are side-effects. ‘Overdosing on vitamin C affects the reproduction in the scalp and the skin cells, and increases the levels of pityrosporon ovale yeasts that cause flaky, inflamed scalps.’ The solution: Moderate your intake of vitamin C to a glass of orange juice a day or one pill a day. You don’t have to stop taking it altogether, but don’t assume that if one is good for keeping you healthy, two will be twice as good. Monitor your medication regularly with your doctor.
  • Thyroid drugs – The problem: Incorrect treatment of thyroid problems can result in hair loss, hair brittleness, dryness and dullness. People either suffer from hyper (overactive) or hypo (underactive) thyroid, when the gland which regulates the body’s metabolism is working too slow or too fast. When it’s too slow, women tend to gain weight and feel lethargic. When it is overactive, you can be underweight and highly energetic. With a hyperactive thyroid the reproduction of the hair follicle cells speeds up, hair falls out in handfuls and you can lose hundreds of hairs a day. It is impossible to replace them as fast as they are being lost, resulting in hair thinning. If you are hypothyroid, your metabolism slows down and so hair does not grow back as quickly, leaving thinning patches. The solution: It is important to keep going back to the doctor to adjust your medication.
  • Vitamin E – The problem: Excessive vitamin E, used as a powerful antioxidant, can lower the absorption of iron in the body. As with aspirin, this can result in a mild anaemia which can cause brittle hair and hair loss in a few cases. The solution: ‘If you take iron and vitamin E at the same time, they counteract each other,’ says Philip Kingsley. ‘So take one vitamin E tablet in the evening and an iron tablet in the morning.’
  • Vitamin A – The problem: Taking more than 10,000 IUs of vitamin A can make your hair fall out. It increases cell reproduction in hair follicles, which means they reach the end of their growth phase faster. When hair reaches the end of its growth phase, it falls out, so the sooner it reaches the end of its growth phase, the earlier it falls out. A normal growth phase lasts about three or four years. The solution: As with vitamin C, you must lower your dosage. ‘To counteract damage, you must make sure you wash your hair every day and gently but firmly massage the scalp well,’ says Philip Kingsley. ‘This helps to stimulate the scalp.’
  • Anti-acne treatment – The problem: In some cases hair can fall out with the anti-acne drug Roaccutane because it is based on vitamin A, which speeds up the growth rate of hair, causing it to fall out sooner than it should. The solution: Try an alternative acne treatment and use moisturising treatments for your hair.

Continue for part 2 here.

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