Hair Loss: A New Hope


By dr. Wilhelm von Ludwig

My children and I rave about the series of sci-fi films, Star Wars. With the new movies, the original men and women are very old and despite the makeup, they are quite wrinkled. What did strike me is that the heroes’ hair is still showing off lush and virile on their scalps.

Hair loss is almost as complex as the Star Wars-universe. Names of the various causes sound as exotic as those of Obi-Wan’s friends. Pili torti, Marie-Unna and Telogen effluvium to name just a few.

A further thing that complicates the matter is that hair grows slowly. Damn slow. At a snail’s pace of a little more than 1 cm per month. As a result, any change in hair growth will take a long time to emerge. Stress can have a very big effect: From being laid off at work, to hospitalization and even a burglary. However, all these things are not immediately visible in hair years. The locks may even appear between your fingers or on your pillow three to six months later.

If there is a treatable cause, the medication will also take the same period of time to start working. Unfortunately, the modern pace has made us lazy to wait.

Causes can be classified as local or general. The area of ​​hair loss may have a local problem, such as in the case of a scalp infection. Then one gets general diseases that affect the entire body’s hair, such as autoimmune diseases or thyroid problems.

Besides the deficiency of hair, patients often think they have other deficiencies as well. They gorge themselves on vitamins that can easily worsen the situation. Vitamin A deficiency is, for example, a known cause of hair loss, but an excess of it can have the same result. Some think that a hormone imbalance is the scapegoat, or the scapegoat (sorry I couldn’t stop myself). They draw blood in the hope that the laboratory will spit out an answer in black and white, but unfortunately we are not yet living in the 24th century with all the fancy medical equipment of Star Trek s Enterprise spacecraft.

Even if we did, it wouldn’t have helped anyway since Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the latter spacecraft is still bald. Just by the way – one must have hair on one’s teeth star wars- and Star Trek-to mix metaphors like this, as there is deep disagreement between the two groups’ fans.

However, most of us are going to struggle with androgenic hair loss. It’s now the common baldness of old age that both men and women experience. Apart from hair transplants and other cosmetic tricks, it doesn’t look like we’re going to find a cure for this condition anytime soon.

If you want to put your hands in your hair at this point in the article, you are not alone. I usually refer to the speed of light when I have to face this complaint. Unfortunately, the seeming hopelessness of hair loss opens the door wide to all kinds of quacks and peddlers.

There are various remedies and creams on the shelf that promise to bring back your youthful locks.

However, only two drugs have been proven in studies to counteract androgenic hair loss, namely minoxidil and fenasteride. The problem with these treatments is that one has to use them every day and daily pills and creams have never been our earthlings’ forte.

There may be a reason why the heroes of Star Wars hair didn’t fall out. Low dose laser therapy has been proven in numerous studies to be effective in fighting hair loss. The US drug authority, the FDA, has also given the coveted green light to this way of treatment.

The great advantage of laser treatment is that you can incorporate it into your daily routine. For example, you get laser combs that make you look like a Jedi hairdresser in the morning. Laser-Alicebands are also available and then there is a hat that looks like a sports cap on the outside, but inside like a laser disco from the early nineties.

Be warned though: If you overdo it, you might end up like Chewbacca.

  • Wilhelm von Ludwig is a general practitioner who practices in Polokwane. Follow him up TikTok or Facebook.