Hairy problem


  • Health
  • Sunday, 26 Jan 2003

BY SHAILER COTTIER

A potpourri of common ailments and possible herbal remedies. MY husband loses a lot of hair each time he washes it. He does not take any vitamin supplement and he smokes. He is in his late 30s and this problem worries him. Is it caused by his shampoo or a lack of vitamins

Hair loss might be related to age, since many men, myself included, lose their hair as they approach 40. 

If the hair loss is severe, your husband may have alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out as a result of a problem in the hair follicles. If he is worried, he should consult a hair specialist (trichologist) who will be able to advise him about the cause and the appropriate treatment. 

My wife developed stretch marks on her lower abdomen during her first pregnancy. Even after applying vitamin-enriched cream and oil for four months after delivery, the stretch marks remain. Are there remedies other than oral medication and plastic surgery

Unfortunately, the best method of treating stretch marks is to prevent them, since once they develop, they are difficult to mask or remove. 

However, taking vitamin E orally does help in most cases, particularly if it is taken together with zinc. Your wife would need between 250mg and 500mg of vitamin E daily, together with 10 to 15mg of zinc. Exposure to the sun also works for some people. 

Generally, the marks will fade in time. Although not harmful, they are unsightly as they are a form of scarring.  

I have a problem with canker sores in my mouth. Every time the old ones heal, new ones come out. I don't bite myself on the lips and eat regular meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. A doctor told me that the sores grow in unusual places and might be stress related. They grow on my cheeks, the back of my throat or on my gums near the molars. I've heard that vitamins and minerals can help heal these sores

I agree with your doctor that canker sores are often the result of stress. The cause of canker sores is still unknown, but they may be due to a localised immune reaction and is more common in those lacking iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. 

A good multivitamin and mineral with at least 300meg of folk acid per tablet should be taken daily, together with extra vitamin C in the non-acid form, such as acid-free C. 

There are also some topical ointments that your pharmacy can recommend. These will give you temporary relief and cover the sores so that they can begin the healing process. 

My 22-year-old daughter has had sweaty palms since she was a child. She has to clutch a piece of tissue when she applies make-up. When she writes a letter, half the page becomes wet. When she is anxious or excited, the sweat drips from her palms. This has become a big problem as her boyfriend is reluctant to hold her hand when they go out. Is there a treatment for her condition

The medical name for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis and it is usually related to over-activity of the sweat glands. It can be localised to the palms or the soles or it may be more generalised. 

Excessive sweating is one of the side-effects of anxiety, which has been controlled successfully with the herb St John's Wort. Since your daughter's condition worsens when she is anxious or excited, she could try using the herb. 

There are also topical lotions which your doctor or pharmacy can recommend. These lotions, applied directly to the areas which tend to sweat excessively, will dry these areas up. 

Your daughter may have to experiment with various treatments until she finds one that suits her best. 

I am in my early 30s but have had problems with white hair since I was a teenager. I have tried Chinese herbs but to no avail. My hairstylist has recommended that I highlight my hair to conceal the white ones. However, I'm worried that the chemicals in the highlight cream will spoil my hair. Is there anything I can do to stop my hair from turning white

Changes in hair colour may be caused by various factors, including poor supply of the nutrients necessary for hair growth to the scalp. Your hairdresser should be able to advise you, since it is unlikely that the problem is specifically due to any nutrient deficiency. 

However, the lack of zinc can contribute to the problem. Therefore, taking a daily zinc supplement may help reduce the problem over time. 

The simple solution is to colour the affected areas with an appropriate hair colouring product. I suggest you try one that does not contain hydrogen peroxide and ammonia, as these chemicals are very harsh on the hair. 

If you are concerned however, you may want to visit a trichologist, who specialises in hair. He can recommend ways to reduce or solve your problem. 

I have problems with oily hair. It seems to get worse as I grow older. I'm 30 years old. I wash my hair daily but it starts to look and feel oily soon after I've washed it. I minimise usage of hair products and avoid oily food. What kind of vitamins can I take? I also find it hard to find a suitable shampoo for oily hair

Oily hair is usually the result of an oily scalp. The skin on the scalp secretes sebum, which normally oils the shaft of the hair, preventing it from drying out so that its gloss and shine is maintained. 

You have not mentioned whether you also have an oily complexion, or whether you suffer from acne. But these are conditions commonly found with oily hair. 

Using an antioxidant supplement helps correct the tendency to an over-oily skin, and this would be worth trying in your case. Your hair salon should be able to recommend a suitable shampoo for oily hair. You should also avoid fatty and sugary foods since both increase the secretion of sebum. 

Shailer Cottier is a member of the New Zealand Nutrition Society and is a professional member of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology. This article is courtesy of Cambert (M) Sdn Bhd. 

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