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Hair problems

Everyone's hair is different, whether it is wavy, frizzy, dry, greasy, shiny, going grey or just having a bad hair day.

Here are some tips for dealing with some of the most common hair concerns.

Grey hair

For some people, grey hair is a distinguishing characteristic - for others it is a reminder that they are getting older. However you feel about it, grey (or white) hair is pretty much inevitable with age - if you are fortunate enough to still have hair in your later years.

Scientists have put a lot of effort into investigating the cause of grey hair, and they believe they have got to the root of the problem. Hair gets its colour from a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocyte cells in the hair follicles. Researchers have discovered that melanocytes endure cumulative damage over the years, which eventually leaves them unable to produce melanin. Studies have cited DNA damage, and a build-up of hydrogen peroxide in the follicles, as possible causes of this disruption in melanin production. Without melanin, the new hair that grows in has no pigment, which makes it appear grey, white or silver.

Some people start to go grey young - as early as their teens. When greying begins is usually determined by genes, so if your mother or father became grey early, you may too. Smoking and certain vitamin deficiencies (particularly vitamin B12) can also turn hair grey prematurely. If you are one of those people who do not find grey hair distinguished, you can easily cover your grey with one of the many different hair dyes available.

Hair loss

Normally, hair goes through a regular growth cycle. During the anagen phase, which lasts three to four years, the hair grows. During the telogen phase, which lasts about three months, the hair rests. At the end of the telogen phase, the hair falls out and is replaced by new hair. The average person loses about 100 hairs each day. Losing excess hair can be a normal part of growing older, but it also can have other causes, including drugs or disease.

As they age, many men lose the hair on top of their head, which eventually leaves a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides. This type of hair loss is called male-pattern baldness. It is caused by genes (from both parents) and it is fuelled by the male hormone, testosterone. In female-pattern baldness, the hair loss is different - it thins throughout the top of the scalp, leaving the hair in front intact.

A number of disorders can cause the hair to fall out. People who have an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata lose hair on their scalp, as well as on other parts of their body. Other health conditions that can cause excess hair loss include:

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