Pollution is terrible for the environment. Something that all of us know and dread.
Some of its effects are immediately felt while some aren’t as tangible. We all strive to contribute towards the cause of reducing pollution, by doing our bits in everyday-life. The need of the hour, without a doubt.
Meantime, have you thought of how it may be affecting your health? Your hair?
Pollution impacts us in multiple ways and damaged hair is one of the very prominent tangible side effects. Hair is one part of our anatomy that reacts very swiftly to any change, both internal and external changes. Pollution is, unfortunately, a very common and significant factor that affects our body and hair from within and outside. The damage caused can be reversed, if spotted and addressed in a timely manner.
Given the situation in most of our cities on the pollution-radar, we are not surprised that we have received multiple queries on pollution and hair loss, how hair is affected and how to tackle it.
So here we are, once again, with our ‘Ask the Hair Expert’ series; this time to address your queries on pollution-related hair damage and loss. And as always, apart from addressing your immediate concerns, we will also recommend tips to manage your hair, to keep it stress-free & problem-free.
You asked: “Does pollution impact hair? Can it trigger dandruff? Can it cause hair loss? If yes, how can I control it?”
Here’s the answer from the Hair Experts.
Yes. Pollution DOES impact your hair, causing hair loss. And you do need to address it before it becomes irreversible.
We recommend a regulated hair care regimen. And a trip to your Trichologist’s clinic, to help understand your hair better and to curb the possible damage.
Thanks to the rising pollution and stressful lifestyle that most of us are leading, it becomes important to take a step back and periodically review our health. And our crowning glory, our hair.
Pollution can render your hair dull, lifeless, dry, brittle, and eventually lead to hair loss, if unattended to. The good news, however, is that hair damage or loss that is purely pollution-related is reversible. Trichologists are your key to tackling this right!
So, let’s first understand how pollution impacts your hair. We will look at conditions that are typically triggered due to its impact, and how to tackle them, along with some handy tips, as always.
How does pollution affect your hair?
It has been observed that toxic particulate matter (the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, many of which are hazardous) can hamper with the chemical processes in dermal papilla cells (present at the base of hair follicles). These cells control the formation of the hair shaft and promote hair growth. They are responsible for hair growth, retention and the hair life cycle. Particulate matter triggers various concerns leading to hair loss.
Research further has shown that exposure of hair follicles to pollutants impair hair proteins, degenerating them. Studies and experiments have shown that with exposure to air pollution, there is a reduction in levels of beta-catenin, a protein needed for hair growth, hair generation and regulation of the hair follicles. Other proteins responsible for growth and retention, such as cyclin D1, cyclin E and CDK2, are also affected when the exposure is high.
The toxins in the air containing smoke, soot, acid and particulate matter also zap the moisture from the hair shaft, making it dry and very brittle. Hair becomes very prone to breakage. In extreme cases, it also leads to premature ageing of hair!
The scalp also gets affected by exposure to pollution. There is excess sebum production on the scalp which translates to a greasy and oily scalp, clogging the pores & hair follicles. This effectively weakens the roots and makes the hair fibre dry.
The pH balance of the hair is disturbed as well when exposed to pollution. When the hair is at an optimum pH level, the cuticles are closed and healthy (do read our blog on hair anatomy to understand this better!). When the natural pH level of your hair and scalp is maintained, the sebum of your scalp is also balanced and fights bacteria. When this balance is disturbed, your cuticle becomes damaged and scalp becomes prone to infections.
Here we list some conditions that are commonly recognised, caused by pollution.
It is easier to identify diffuse hair loss in males since it has a particular pattern of hair loss or thinning of hair, occurring in different spots of the head. Under diffuse hair loss in males, hair thinning can happen all over the head and almost equally in all proportions, the only exception being the back and sides where hair loss does not happen as much. In women, it can be a feature across the scalp, with no specific pattern. A Trichologist can identify it through clinical diagnosis. Diffuse hair loss in itself can be of various types, which the trichologist can identify and prescribe treatment accordingly.
While the above is an indicative list of conditions that are typically triggered by pollution, there are pre-existing conditions which may get aggravated due to exposure to pollutants. These conditions are typically triggered due to other reasons but pollution makes these hair concerns worse! Some such are androgenic alopecia, dandruff, hair loss triggered by PCOD, postpartum hair loss, thyroid disorder-related hair loss/thinning, premature greying to name a few.
Thus, exposure to pollutants either triggers a new condition or makes an existing one worse! Timely intervention, seeking professional guidance where needed, can make all the difference.
Can such hair loss be reversed?
As we mentioned above, the good news here is that hair loss that is caused due to pollution, is reversible. Key is a correct diagnosis and proper, timely action.
Haircare tips to combat pollution
There are ways to counteract the effects of pollution and take care of your hair. Here are some tips on how you can handle it on your own.
If dandruff, hair loss or any of these common symptoms persist in spite of your following these recommendations, do visit a Trichologist. Not all hair/scalp problems are environmental-stress-driven!
How can a Trichologist help?
Trichologist can help you clearly diagnose your condition – if it is indeed a pollution-related disorder or if there is something more to it. As we always remind you, hair is your body’s barometer. Every hair has a story to tell and it is the trichologist who can decipher that for you!
During the consultation with your Trichologist, a detailed analysis is done of your hair & scalp condition, your routine and diet are thoroughly discussed, along with your medical case history. A diagnosis is then drawn and treatment prescribed. It could be a topical treatment, basic hair fall treatments, rejuvenating therapies, changes to diet or hair care routine, or specific tricho treatments, or change in hair products you are using, depending on your hair’s need. Remember, no one solution fits all!
Do visit a reputed clinic to meet a trichologist to get professional guidance on all things hair.
We trust that your questions have been addressed! Do reach out to us at any point with your doubts or concerns. We are just a call away to help you figure your hair worries out!
Do read our hair care blogs that give you very simple tips to care for your hair on a daily basis, and for all things ‘Hair’, do follow our blogs on hair loss, treatments & solutions, and interesting hair trivia!
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