What hurts more than a break up? Hair fall. While this might make for a funny meme, it does have its roots in truth. There is something sinister about watching more strands than usual on the hair brush. And here is the thin line we walk on: panic too much and the stress of losing hair will lead to further hair fall. Turn a blind eye and you can leave the underlying causes unaddressed, sometimes leading to irreversible hair thinning. The trick lies in acing the balancing act and taking an informed step.

Understanding the hair growth and hair fall process

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Experts agree that it’s normal to shed 50-100 hair strands on a daily basis, as that shows that the growth cycle is in place. The old hair has to shed to make room for new strands to grow. In a nutshell, the growth is cyclical, and every year, there could be a time you are losing more hair than usual. If this phase is lasting for a few days only, there’s no cause for concern, as it could just be a sign of renewal. It is usually observed that the hair sheds a few extra strands during change of season, especially in monsoon. But if it lasts for more than a few days, for over a month, it’s time to sit back and take notice.

If the hair loss is changing your hair texture, making your strands thinner than their natural form, see a professional, preferably your dermatologist, immediately. Even if the hair thickness is fine but you are observing more hair loss than usual, it is a sign that something inside the body is not letting the organs or systems operate at their optimal efficiency.

Why hair falls

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Physiological changes such as puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause and nutritional deficiencies are some of the most common causes of hair fall. Hair damage (caused due to the way you wash, manage and dry your hair on a daily basis) comes a close second, but in that the hair fall is not from the roots. The first step is to understand the cause. That’s why a reputed dermatologist begins the treatment after the preliminary blood tests.

“If the patient is losing hair and the hair texture or thickness of existing hair is as before, then nutritional supplements can fix the problem. You should begin with the treatments when there is miniaturisation of hair follicles and hair bulbs that’s leading to hair thinning,” says Dr Satish Bhatia, Mumbai-based dermatologist and cutaneous surgeon.

His niche clinic is packed with patients from the Middle East who fly down all the way to restore hair loss through PRP (plasma-rich platelet) therapy. This is recommended when the problem persists even after dietary supplements and topical application of Minoxidil sprays. With a thin needle, your own blood plasma is injected into the scalp which can promote hair growth. The results are visible within four to six weeks.

Psychological reasons also lead to hair loss. “Hair fall and stress are intimately linked in a sort of never-ending vicious cycle. Stress causes hair fall, and that leads to more stress. Anxiety causes certain immune system changes, which in turn affect your entire body and also hair,” explains Mumbai-based Dr Rohann Bokdawala, consultant neuropsychiatrist.

Hair fall remedies: Diet changes for good hair health

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“When women (and men) suffer from hair fall, they change their shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments. But have you changed your diet?” questions Dr Harpreet Pasricha, nutritionist and diet consultant. The condition of your hair and skin is an outward sign of inside health. You need to eat healthy, not just to lose weight, but also to maintain good skin and hair. Excess sugar and processed foods interfere with absorption of certain minerals. Sudden hair loss could also result from weight loss diets that eliminate certain food groups leading to nutritional deficiencies.

“To counter hair fall enrich your diet with five nutrients—zinc, biotin, Vitamin D, iron and protein,”states Pasricha.

  1. Iron is the most important mineral for hair. Iron deficiency is a common reason people start to get flaky hair that starts to shed. Hair follicle and roots are fed by a nutrient rich blood supply.

Sources: Red meat, chicken, fish, lentils, spinach and other leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and salad greens.

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Spinach is one the top superfoods to treat hair fall problems as it is rich in iron, protein, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C, which enables the body to balance out hormones and to produce essential oils in the scalp. These nutrients condition the scalp, eventually leading to an increase in hair growth.

2. Zinc is required for scalp protection and to regulate variety of different growth hormones which your body uses to synthesize hair growth. Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp.

Sources: Fortified cereals and whole grains, oysters, and eggs.

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Seeds of pumpkin, flax and sunflower are rich in zinc, Vitamin E, oleic acid and Vitamin B6 which make them the perfect diet addition to combat hair fall. These nutrients strengthen your hair strands and improve oxygen and blood flow, while making it a viable environment for your tresses to grow.

3. Protein: Dry, brittle and weak hair is a result of low protein. The amino acid lysine is particularly important, since it’s commonly found in keratin. Thus it is important to ensure that you have enough protein in your diet for strong and healthy hair.

Sources: Chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products such as paneer and cheese, legumes and nuts and eggs.

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jessica @unsplash

Egg is packed with biotin, protein, sulphur, zinc and Vitamin E, which rejuvenates hair health from the roots of your strands, making it possible to have a healthier regrowth.

4. Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin which is used to synthesize Keratin Growth Factor, the hormone your body uses to synthesize Keratin. Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss.

Sources: Beans, egg and avocado

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5. Vitamin D has found to activate hair growth. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required to maintain normal hair growth cycle.

Sources: Sunlight, fish (mackerel, salmon, tuna), dairy products

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Don’t press the panic button at the first signs of hair fall. Sit up, breathe and analyse what your body is trying to tell you.

The article (in parts) was first published in vogue.in


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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