Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Catastrophic Hair Loss

What Can Doctors Do?
If you see a doctor about hair loss, he or she will check your scalp and, in some cases, may take hair samples. You may also be tested for certain medical conditions that can cause hair loss.

If medication is causing hair loss, ask the doctor if a different drug can be substituted. If your hair loss is due to an endocrine condition, like diabetes or thyroid disease, proper treatment and control of the underlying disorder is important to reduce or prevent hair loss. Using a product like minoxidil that can discourage hair loss and speed up hair growth also may be helpful. Alopecia areata can be helped by treatment with corticosteroids. And if a doctor finds that nutritional deficiencies are causing your hair loss, he or she may refer you to a dietitian or other nutrition expert.

Catastrophic Hair Loss
Hair loss can be the first outward sign that a person is sick, so it may feel scary. Teens who have cancer and lose their hair because of chemotherapy treatments go through a difficult time, especially girls.

It can help to feel like you have some control over your appearance when you're losing your hair. Try some of the many options for disguising hair loss — such as wearing wigs, hair wraps, hats, and baseball caps. For most teens who lose their hair, the hair does return — including after chemotherapy. And hair loss during chemotherapy is usually a sign that the treatment is working to destroy the cancer cells because you can see how it's working on the good cells (your hair!).

Taking Care of Your Hair
Eating a balanced, healthy diet is important for a lot of reasons, and it really benefits your hair. And don't forget to treat your hair well. For example, some doctors recommend using baby shampoo, shampooing no more than once a day, and lathering gently. Don't rub your hair too vigorously with a towel, either. Many hair experts suggest you consider putting away the blow-dryer and air drying your hair instead. If you can't live without your blow-dryer, try using it on a low heat setting.

Style your hair when it's dry or damp. Styling your hair while it's wet can cause it to stretch and break. And try to avoid teasing your hair, which can also cause damage. Finally, be careful when using chemicals — such as straighteners or color — on your hair.