Hairy Problems

Dearest granddaughter, come close and look into my eyes.” Grandmother Growth beckons and her voice grows deeper and more resonant. “Look deep into my eyes and acknowledge the beauty there.

“Yes, my skin is wrinkled. My face is the face of age, and to many, that is fearful. But my beauty, like my wise blood, now resides inside of me. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you look beyond the hair on my chin?” she says grinning, flicking her fingers under her chin in a most unladylike manner.

“Can you forgive the places where my scalp shines through? Can you find the truth of my beauty, the beauty of age, which is so different from the beauty of youth?” Her eyes grow fierce, but sparkle with amusement. “I know you can, for I know how beautiful I am.”

Grandmother Growth takes your chin in her strong hand and looks at you with eyes so intense you fear you may catch on fire. She commands: “When you look into your mirror, I ask you to look deep into your own eyes and to acknowledge your own inner beauty.

“I know, I know, metamorphosis is changing you and you don’t like it. Like a teenager, you peer and peer into the looking glass, noting every new wrinkle, every hair on your face (and other new places). Counting each grey hair as it grows. Worrying that your hair seems to fall out by the handful.

“Dear one, my most precious child, take care, but do not fret. And do not tell yourself that you are becoming ugly. I know it is difficult, in fact it may be one of the most difficult tasks of your menopause, but you must recast your own opinion of beauty so that it includes old women who have hairy problems and live well with them – like you!”

Too much hair (on the chin), too little hair (on the scalp), falling hair, thinning hair, greying hair – no matter what the complaint, many women notice something happening to their hair during menopause. As hormone levels shift during the menopausal years, hair responds to the changing hormones by changing texture, falling out, or by growing in “odd” places. Here are remedies for those who want more hair, and for those who want less.

HAIR LOSS (ALOPECIA) & GREY HAIR

STEP 1. COLLECT INFORMATION

Menopause does not cause grey hair; taking hormones doesn’t stop it. Greying, thinning hair is a normal part of aging. Women whose menopause is induced in their 20s and 30s do not suddenly go grey.

Hair loss at mid-life (androgenic alopecia) is more strongly linked to genes than diet or lifestyle. Those of European origins are far more likely to experience it than Asians, Native Americans, Africans, or African-Americans. Hair loss starts earlier and becomes more extreme on men’s heads, but just as many women deal with receding hairlines and balding patches. Roughly half of all women experience some hair loss during their menopausal years. Two-thirds of post-menopausal women deal with thinning hair or bald spots. And no one likes it. Americans spend a billion dollars a year trying to regrow their hair!

Normal hair loss (50-100 hairs a day) is gradual. Sudden unexplained loss is not normal. Events which can trigger hair loss include pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, severe emotional stress, rapid or profound weight loss, thyroid disorders, pituitary problems, malnutrition, iron deficiency, lack of protein, large doses of vitamin A, chemotherapy, radiation, general anesthesia, chronic illness, scarlet fever, syphilis, certain medications (see Step 5), and hair abuse including bleaching, permanents, tight braids, tight pony tails, tight wigs, and tight hats.

(The National Alopecia Areata Foundation, 710 C St, Ste 11, San Rafael, CA 94901 (415-456-4644) can help you contact a local hair loss support group, and gather more information.)

STEP 2. ENGAGE THE ENERGY

Homeopathic remedies for women with hair loss include:

Lycopodium: loss precipitated by hormonal fluctuations.
Sepia especially for menopausal women who have sweaty flushes and heavy bleeding
Phosphoric acid: loss after grief or extreme emotion, accompanied by exhaustion.
STEP 3. NOURISH AND TONIFY
Infusion of stinging nettle, 2-4 cups a day, strengthens hair and checks falling hair with its superb supplies of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and other minerals. Regular use restores thickness, body, shine and sheen to hair. If you have any infusion left over, pour it on your head and rub it into your scalp for faster results.
“Every grey hair represents a day with too few minerals,” a wise woman said to me. Actually, the color of hair is produced by special cells which gradually die as we age. But it is true that hair is loaded with minerals, and getting extra minerals may keep those color cells alive longer. To increase my mineral intake, and keep my hair healthy, I eat more yogurt, drink more nourishing herbal infusions, prepare more mineral-rich soups, use more herbal vinegars, and increase the amount of seaweed in my diet.
Lack of minerals, especially iron, can cause hair loss. Yellow dock is one of my favorite iron-tonics.
Natural hair dyes can cure the grey blahs. Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a plant that is easily purchased ready-to-use to change the color of your hair, and you are not limited to carrot-top red. So long as it is not overused (less than four times a year) henna is strengthening to the scalp and hair. Other natural hair dyes include coffee, black walnut hulls, or infusions of sage or rosemary herb.
Herbalist Amanda McQuade Crawford suggests using lemon balm or lemon grass infusion as a hair rinse to prevent hair loss.
Burdock seed oil, one of the best selling hair tonics in Russia, is especially recommended for those with thinning hair or hair loss. Apply to your hair and scalp, leave on overnight and shampoo it out the following day. Repeat as needed.
Just plain olive oil is also a tremendous hair tonic. So is jojoba oil. Apply a handful of either to hair and scalp, wrap well and leave on overnight, washing it out the next morning.
I know you know, but let me say it again, exercise! Yes, it can make your hair healthier too.
STEP 4. SEDATE/STIMULATE
While some temporary loss of hair at menopause is considered normal, something worse may be brewing. Thin, dry hair is one of the first signs of an underactive thyroid. Hair loss is also an early sign of lupus, an autoimmune disease. Chugging down a gulp of cod liver oil or wheat germ oil every day for six weeks could help your hair.
Menopause sends lots of energy to the crown of your head. That can overstimulate the scalp and cause hair loss (and/or headaches). Get your energy moving with a scalp massage. Let your head calm down and your hair cool off.
Blow dryers, dyes, perms, and other harsh treatments damage hair and scalp. Rosemary essential oil, a few drops rubbed into the scalp several times a week, repairs the damage, increases hair growth, and improves hair texture. Other essential oils which improve hair growth and reduce hair loss include lavender oil, lemon oil, thyme oil, sage oil, and carrot seed oil. You can mix 10-20 drops of any of these into 4 ounces of plain olive oil, infused burdock seed oil, or jojoba oil. Other essential oils said to reduce hair loss include birch, calendula, chamomile, cypress, rose, and yarrow.
Avoid chlorinated water on your hair. A shower filter is more important than a drinking water filter. And cut down on the number of times you wash your hair. Once every 5-10 days is ideal for healthy hair.
Avoid cayenne. Heroic herbalists say it increases hair growth by improving blood circulation to the scalp. But when there is hair loss, says Janet Roberts MD, specialist in women’s hair loss and member of the Oregon Menopause Network, there are inflamed follicles. Cayenne increases inflammation, ultimately increasing hair loss.
STEP 5A. USE SUPPLEMENTS
Dry, brittle, thin hair is often due to a deficiency in one or more of these nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, iron, zinc, essential fatty acids. Food and herbal sources of these nutrients are preferable to pills.
Avoid hair weaving, a cosmetic treatment that weaves replacement hair in with the still existing hair; it actually causes more loss (by creating traction alopecia).
STEP 5B. USE DRUGS
Hair loss can be caused by drugs, including: birth control pills, anticoagulants, diet pills, thyroid medications; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin, ibuprofen, and Aleve; cholesterol-lowering drugs such as clofibrate and gemfibrozil; arthritis medications such as gold salts (auranofin), indomethacin, naproxen, sulindac, and methotrexate; beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal), and timolol (Blocadren); and ulcer drugs such as cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and famoridine (Pepcid). And, of course, chemotherapy.
Minoxidil (Rograine) dilates blood vessels, encouraging baby-fine hair. Only the 2% solution is approved for women. Of those who use it only 19% achieve even moderate regrowth; 40% have minimal regrowth. Meanwhile, 40% of the women using the placebo had regrowth! CAUTION: Side effects in women include unwanted hair growth on the face, heart disturbances, and dizziness.
Fertile women are not allowed to use (or even touch) finasteride (Propecia) for fear of the severe birth defects it causes. This is probably a blessing in disguise, as the side-effects (loss of libido, lip swelling, breast engorgement, birth defects) are not pleasant. Finasteride is completely ineffective in reversing hair loss for postmenopausal women. Tell your men friends a dose of 0.2 mg (one-fifth the normal dose) works just as well, costs less ($10 a month instead of $50), and is gentler on the liver.
Hormones, including ERT, HRT, birth control pills, and anti-androgens (cypoterone acetate, spironolactone, and fluramide) are used singly or in combination to treat women with androgenic alopecia.
STEP 6. BREAK AND ENTER
Hair transplants can cover a bald spot but are far less successful on women than on men. Micrografts do a better job of dealing with women’s diffuse pattern of hair loss.
“Scalp lifts” tighten the scalp, making hair appear thicker and fuller.
HIRSUTISM/TOO MUCH HAIR
STEP 0. DO NOTHING

A few brazen souls just grin and bear it. Seriously, does anyone else notice that extra hair? Ask a few people who will tell you the truth. Perhaps you are making a mountain (beard/moustache) out of a molehill (a couple of extra hairs)?

STEP 1. COLLECT INFORMATION

It is not at all unusual to find extra hairs growing on the chin, upper lip, breasts, and legs during or after menopause. It is thought that menopause makes some hair follicles more sensitive to testosterone’s hair-promoting effects. However, sudden hair growth can be caused by a tumor on the ovaries, thyroid, adrenals, or pituitary.

STEP 2. ENGAGE THE ENERGY

Visualize a large mirror. Look at yourself in this mirror. When you see something you don’t like, ask the mirror how you can change. Finish by telling your image how much you love her. Repeat frequently.

STEP 3. NOURISH AND TONIFY

Oatstraw infusion tends to increase the activity of testosterone; increased levels of testosterone contribute to excess hair growth during menopause. It’s a long shot, but avoiding oats, oatmeal, and oatstraw infusion may help eliminate or reduce those extra hairs.

STEP 4. SEDATE/STIMULATE

Natural bleaches, like lemon juice or sunlight (or both together), are generally safe even for use on the sensitive skin of the face.
Shaving, plucking, and waxing are minimally invasive means of removing excess hair. Such means may increase the rate of hair growth, however, or make the texture of the hair coarser, or cause hair follicle inflammation and ingrown hairs.
STEP 5B. USE DRUGS
Hirsutism may be caused by corticosteroids and medications for high blood pressure. (Rograine was originally a blood pressure drug.)
Drug treatments – which are 80% successful according to one MD – include the corticosteroids prednisone and dexamethasone. Hormones, including birth-control pills and anti-androgens such as spironolactone, are occasionally used.
STEP 6. BREAK AND ENTER
Electrolysis is expensive, painful, tedious, must be done several times over, and can cause scarring. Most sources advise against home electrolysis.

Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

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How to Remove Unwanted Hairs on the Back

Men usually have trouble with a large amount of hair on their backs. Some women have this problem too, as some women tend to have patterned hair growths that extend from the lower region of the back toward the nape. Here are some methods that you might want to try in the effort to remove those unsightly hairs.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis has the formal benefit of being the only approved medical method for the removal of hairs from the skin. This hair removal method is a permanent one so make sure you really want the hairs to be gone forever before engaging in electrolysis. Electrolysis is the selective damaging of the hair follicles so that no new hair would grow back. The procedure is not completed in just one session; you have to go back a few times since individual follicles are ‘killed’ one by one.

While the procedure has been tagged as a permanent means of removing hair, there’s a chance that after a long period of time the hairs would grow back. This is because you have to ‘catch’ the hair follicles in the growth phase for the procedure to be effective. The method makes use of electricity that passes through a special needle-armed device. In addition, it doesn’t matter if you’re Eastern European, Middle Eastern, African-American or Asian; the procedure works well on all ethnicities, skin colors and skin types.

How about lasers?

Apart from the ouch component of electrolysis treatments, there’s a less painful hair removal procedure: laser hair removal. Here’s how laser hair removal works: a machine that emits specific wavelengths of light is used to seek out the melanin in the hairs. When the melanin absorbs the light, the hair is quickly damaged. The target areas usually experience hair loss in about 2 weeks. Some users report hair fall in as short a period as 10 days.

The basic advantage with using this procedure is you won’t have to wax or shave as much. Remember, not all the hairs would be removed but a significant portion or chunk of the total number of hairs would be removed. The guideline for laser hair removal is not strict. You can go to the cosmetic clinic with only a few days worth of hair growth and still be able to undergo the procedure. Depending on the kind of hair you want to be removed, you can shave daily as well.

The main disadvantage with the cost of laser hair removal is evident; most clinics charge at least $150 to $200 for basic hair removal. Full hair removal over a particular large region can jack up the price to $900 or even more. For some, that might be a bit much for something as simple as hair removal.

Laser removal isn’t painless, as well. Just like electrolysis, the first few sessions can be a tad but uncomfortable. You would feel a sensation similar to having your skin snapped by a stretch rubber band. Here’s an interesting factoid about laser hair removal. The dark your hair, the more painful the first few sessions. This is because the richer the melanin concentration, the more of emitted laser your hair absorbs.

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Safe Laser Hair Removal

Lasers are now the gold standard treatment for permanent hair reduction. In the right hands and using the correct machine, laser hair removal is a safe and effective procedure with few if any side effects.

In the wrong hands, using the wrong laser or using inappropriate laser settings the resulting treatment may be painful, may not work and can even produce permanent scaring and damage to the skin.

It is essential that your laser treatment is performed by fully qualified and experienced laser therapists, preferably this means a qualified nurse and not a beautician. The laser therapists must have been through the manufacturers training program specific for that laser and the clinic should be regulated by an appropriate organization. At present in the United Kingdom all laser clinics using a medical laser device should be regulated by the Care Quality Commission as a health care provider for that treatment.

How do Lasers Work?

A laser emits a high energy beam of light that is absorbed by the hair follicle. The laser is pulsed, or turned on, for only a fraction of a second, the duration of each pulse is just long enough to treat the hair follicle, and not damage the surrounding skin. Once absorbed, the laser light energy is transformed into heat, destroying the hair bulb at the base of the hair follicle.

The colour of your hair depends on the presence of a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocytes, found in the hair bulb. In laser hair removal, the target for the laser energy is this melanin pigment. Thus the more melanin an individual has in his/her hair, the more effective a laser’s energy will be absorbed into the follicle and the better the results will be.

What type of laser works the best on different skin types?

Different laser machines s produce beams of light energy at different wavelengths, for hair removal you need a laser that has a wavelength that is easily absorbed by melanin.

An individual with light skin and dark hair is the perfect subject for hair removal, the laser energy is therefore selectively absorbed by the hair bulb and not the surrounding skin, this reduces the potential thermal damage to the skin and allows you to be able to deliver more energy directly to the hair bulb.

Usually the gold standard on a dark haired light skinned client is a diode laser like the lightsheer laser which produces light filtered to almost the exact wavelength needed to be effective for hair removal, alternatively an alexandrite laser can also be very effective.

With dark skin and Asian skinned clients clinics need to use a laser that is more refined for that skin type, unlike on white skin an alexandrite laser may cause scaring to Asian or dark skin.

An Nd Yag laser has traditionally the best option for darker skin. However experience shows that an Nd Yag laser used on light skin or lighter Asian skin can cause scattering of the light energy and therefore painful treatments. I prefer to use a lightsheer diode laser which can be set up with a long pulse width. A lightsheer laser has a cooled tip that cools the surrounding skin reducing any residual thermal damage to the skin and excellent results are achieved with little if any discomfort at all.

White, blond and grey hair is not really suitable for laser hair removal as the hair bulbs do not contain as much melanin pigment so it is difficult to target the laser energy into the hair bulb and get effective results.

Different light devices are also available IPL stands for Intense pulsed light, these are devices that are not as powerful as a traditional laser and cannot maintain a pulse width or deliver the fluence or energy needed to be effective. You will therefore need more treatments in a salon using an cheaper, inferior IPL device and your results will not be as good as a traditional laser.

Home use hair removal devices use IPL technology and looking at the test results and the technical specifications cannot produce enough energy to get effective results and are therefore a waste of money.

With a traditional laser you will need 5 or 6 treatments to get effective results, going to a salons that uses an IPL devices will mean you need at least 10-12 sessions for the same results.

In Conclusion, go to a medically regulated clinic not a salon, be treated by a qualified technician preferably a nurse and make sure that the clinic is using a technology that works and is safe on your skin type.

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