Saturday, April 12, 2008

Myths dispelled - Hair

There are so many "old wives tales" and myths in health care, that each week EverythingHealth will pick a subject and give you a quick dose of truth. Today's topic is Hair. Everyone is interested in hair and that makes for lots of hair myths.

1. Split ends can be repaired: When the tips of hairs are damaged and fray, it is called a split end. Once split there is no product that can bond the ends together. Some products smooth the surface but the only way to end a split end is to cut it off.

2. Shampooing makes hair fall out: The hairs that clog the drain are part of the natural cycle of shedding. Some times more hairs fall out but scrubbing with shampoo does not cause it. The lifespan of a hair is 2-4 years and hairs are falling out and regenerating all the time.

3. Brushing is good for your hair. Do 100 strokes/day: The opposite is true. Vigorous brushing can tear and damage hairs and even pull hair out. In the old days when people didn't bathe regularly, brushing may have distributed scalp oils and dandruff and helped with lice control. For us, use the brush for styling only.

4. If you pluck grey hair, two will grow back in its place: As we get older the melanocyte cells that create colored pigment stop working. This is determined by our genes and some environmental factors like smoking and diet deficiencies. Pulling out grey hair doesn't affect the other hair follicles, but the passage of time does, so it may seem that more grey is occurring. Some people start greying in their 30's, others (Ronald Reagan ?) make it to old age without much grey. Go figure!

5. If you shave hair, it grows back darker and thicker: Cutting or shaving doesn't affect hair growth or texture. If it did, we could cure baldness with a razor. Hairs have a natural tapered end and when that is cut or shaved, the remaining shaft feels thicker and darker.

5. Shock can make hair turn white overnight: There are a number of reports of this happening (Marie Antoinette, Barbara Bush, Survivors of Titanic ) but there is no medical evidence that it can happen. Extreme stress can cause alopecia, where hairs at the end of their cycle fall out all at once. Hairs that are left may be the white hairs, giving the appearance of it happening suddenly (but certainly not overnight).

There you have it.


Tough Cookie said...

Hi there! LOVE your blog (and that bear is adorable!). I am a 23 year old, former collegiate cross country runner battling RSD. I hope you'll check out my blog. It's my small attempt at creating awareness and spreading hope.

Raymond Bouchayer said...

I read an article about hair turning white , it was a medical research in Australia and it said that premature whitening of hair was caused by Osteoporosis ??? is this true ?

Toni Brayer MD said...

Raymond: No it is not true.
Tough cookie: Thanks and good luck with a tough condition - RSD.

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