Your hair is an epidermal growth that can reflect the general condition of your body. For example, an underactive thyroid gland can cause dry, coarse hair.
Keep your hair clean. Wash it once a week, more often if it tends to be oily. A pure, plain toilet soap or a good shampoo is the best cleansing agent. Good shampoos usually contain nothing more than soap or detergent, along with some perfume. Poor shampoos contain borax or an alkali that is usually irritating to the scalp.
Washing removes the natural oil in your hair along with the dirt, and shampoos do not restore these oils while cleaning your hair.
Protein conditioners, advertised to give the hair more ‘body,’ simply coat the hairs, but provide no lasting benefit. A little mineral oil rubbed in after shampooing may ease dryness, but lanolin has been overrated. Avoid hair sprays that come in aerosol cans; the materials in such containers can be dangerous to the eyes, skin and lungs.
Keeping your hair clean and brushed is the best thing you can do for its health and looks. Remember to wash your brush and comb at least as often as you do your hair.
The flaking off of the scalp’s dead skin cells is perfectly normal and occurs on all parts of the body surface. But excessive dandruff can be annoying and unsightly. There is no proof that it is caused by a germ of any kind; nor does dandruff increase your chances of becoming bald.
The best treatment is to shampoo often—even once a day does not harm your scalp. Special dandruff shampoos containing one or more of the following ingredients are sometimes helpful: sulfur, selenium sulfide, salicylic acid and tar. Or you may want your doctor or a dermatologist to prescribe a shampoo tailored specifically for you.
These wingless little parasites often spread from person to person in crowded places such as schools. Lice leave tiny white eggs (nits) attached to the hairs, but the nits can be removed by using a very fine-toothed steel comb and by careful picking with your fingers.
There are medicated shampoos your doctor may recommend that can be used to wash the hair. In severe cases, the doctor may recommend a very short haircut. These lice are different from the kind that settle in pubic hairs.
Hair Bleaches and Dyes
Hair can be bleached by ordinary hydrogen peroxide to which a drop of ammonia has been added. Sodium perborate bleaches can be harmful, and all bleaching tends to alter the texture of the hair. Later, new hairs grow in with their original color.
Hair can also be dyed or tinted. If you wish to have your hair dyed, be sure to have a small lock tested first to find out whether the dye will irritate your scalp or cause general illness. Always repeat the test process each time you have your hair redyed, because you can develop a sensitivity to the tint from repeated use.
How safe are permanents? The process depends on the action of chemicals that make the hair more pliable so that it takes the shape of the curler, and a second type of chemical that makes hair hold its new shape. Many people are allergic or sensitive to these chemicals. Always have a test curl made first, to be certain you will not suffer a reaction that may be severe.
Great care should be taken to keep the waving lotions away from the eyes and any cuts or sores, and to remove them promptly if they do touch sensitive areas.
Home permanents contain much the same ingredients as those used in beauty salons. You or the friend who gives you the permanent should make a test curl first, and you should be careful to keep the lotion away from your eyes and face—and from children. Follow the directions carefully.
The common (patterned) type of baldness is inherited. The gene that determines baldness is sex-linked, and the problem afflicts far more men than women. Unfortunately, there is no ‘wonder’ preparation that will restore lost hair if your genes have determined that you will be bald.
Once an area is bald, the hair follicles and the blood vessels and nerves that supply it cannot be restored. Still, those miraculous tales of bald people who grew back a whole head of hair may be perfectly true. This can happen only if the original cause of baldness was a disease or temporary emotional shock that for some reasons caused the hair to fall out—not if it is baldness of the inherited type. When the condition is remedied, the still living hair follicles resume growing hairs.
Bald patches can sometimes result from local infection, rubbing—as from a tight hatband—or as a reaction to the chemical and radiation treatments that cancer patients undergo.
In some women, too, the hair may become thin. This is natural in the elderly, but it may result as well from a shortage of thyroid hormone.
If baldness is particularly distressing to you, do not waste money on ‘hair restorers,’ but spend it on a good toupee or wig, which, if carefully made to match your hair and skillfully fitted, are hard to distinguish from the real thing. Hair transplants, though painful and expensive, can offer an even more natural looking restoration
Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Male-Pattern and Female-Pattern Hair Loss, 2017 Version by Satoshi Itami, Akio Sato et al
Head Lice by Ian Burgess
Changes in Epidermal Morphology Associated with Dandruff with J E Pople, A E Moore et al