Scientific Area

Dry hair

CATEGORIES SCIENTIFIC AREA

Scientific collaboration between Professor Marco Toscani and Dr. Pasquale Fino, Chair of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Umberto I Health Center – “Sapienza” University of Rome.

Both men and women of any age may have dry hair. This situation is endured not only as an aesthetic problem, but in time may represent a problem concerning hair health. Dry hair often appears weak, fragile and tends to become brittle and to break.
Dry hair often has split ends and other forms of damage to the shaft.

Often, the presence of dry hair is accompanied by various symptoms such as: dry and brittle hair with split ends, very thin and dry hair that breaks easily, greasy skin and dry hair, dry skin and dry hair, and dry and thin hair that tends to fall out.

The causes that lead to dry hair vary and are difficult to counteract. When the causes cannot be eliminated, treatments focus on the symptoms. This allows for mitigation of the problem and to make it manageable. Among the endogenous causes, we can list hormonal causes, given that hormones influence the formation of hair and hair follicle activity by inhibiting the production of sebum. Another cause can be identified in dietary deficiencies or in a diet lacking in protein, vitamins or minerals. These nutrient deficiencies modify the keratinization process of the hair, thus causing the hair to weaken and become thin.
Genetic causes must also be mentioned: dry hair is hereditary.
An important cause of dry hair is reduced sebum production.

Among the exogenous causes we can list cosmetic hair treatments such as perms, hair dyes, highlighting and frequent use of a hair straightener. Hair straighteners may break hair just like hair dyes and strong ammonium-based and hydrogen peroxide-based hair decolorations. Moreover, in older age hair tends to become increasingly drier due to the progressive atrophy of adnexa and sebaceous glands.

Washing hair too often and the frequent use of aggressive shampoos may cause dryness both of the hair and of the skin. The use of hair dryers at high temperatures or too close to the scalp is another exogenous cause of dry hair.
Among environmental factors, excessive exposure to sunrays, excessively cold temperatures, salt water, pool chlorine and atmospheric pollution damages hair and makes it dry and brittle.

There are many cases of individuals with oily skin and hair that is dry at the ends. This occurs when an excessive quantity of greasy sebum is produced. Greasy sebum, different than oily sebum, adheres to the scalp and does not lubricate hair. In these cases it is important to wash and cleanse the greasy scalp, nourishing and lubricating dry ends. In a nutshell, this re-establishes the acidic-hydrolipidic balance of the skin in order to make hair healthier and shinier. Dryness of the skin and hair may be caused by two factors. The first depends on a defect in sebum secretion which leads to the quantity of lipids expelled onto the scalp being so low that it is unable to lubricate the skin and hair. The second instead derives from reduced sweating, resulting in the sweat glands not functioning as they should and therefore the scalp does not receive thecorrect amount of water, which has the task of evenly spreading sebum throughout the hair.

Dry skin and hair may, moreover, originate from the combination of the two aforementioned causes.
Dry and brittle hair is often the result of a deficiency concerning the lipids and liquids which normally help to untangle hair. When dry hair is associated with dry skin, a greater supply of lipids, water and nutrients is needed so as to stimulate both sebaceous gland and sweat gland function. Laser therapy vascularizes skin, while a daily scalp massage facilitates the secretion of skin.

When the problem of dry hair is not serious it is possible to opt for natural remedies that strengthen the hair via the use of vegetable oil masks, restructuring masks, nourishing shampoos or specific treatments for different types of hair.
Seriously dry, brittle hair that is susceptible to thinning tends to fall out, so it is best to consult a specialist for the correct therapy before it is too late.

Brittle hair

Brittle hair is hair that appears opaque and without shininess. It is characterized by glaringly visible damage and deterioration of the shaft.
The causes that lead to the problem of brittle hair may be of endogenous and exogenous origin.

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Hair types and morphology

Some parameters and characteristics should be taken into consideration when assessing hair types and morphologies: shape, density and appearance. The appearance of hair, in the form of lanugo, occurs during the fourth month of pregnancy.

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Life cycle of hair

The life cycle of hair and its subsequent growth occur at a speed of 1-1.5 cm per month. Hair is a living element that follows a follicle cycle with an average duration of 2-6 years. In humans, unlike other mammals that are subject to a periodic change, this cyclic evolution is not synchronous (therefore each hair is independent from the others).

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Androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss) or baldness

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss and affects the majority of white men, with varying degrees of seriousness. It is less frequent in other ethnic groups. Often it can be associated with a family history of baldness, but the absence of other affected family members does not exclude the diagnosis. The condition is characterized by progressive hair loss in the crown area, the front hairline and the temporal area.

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Hair loss (telogen defluvium)

With the term Telogen Defluvium we mean a modest, not excessive, loss of hair in the telogen phase, but which tends to often be irreversible, with the precise characteristics of hair in decay or involution. The hair that falls out is usually short and fine, with bulbs that are undeveloped and reduced in size.

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