As dermatologists, one of the most common questions that comes our way is about the excessive hair loss you see when you simply brush your hair, on your bathroom floor, or on your pillow when you wake up.

Are you someone who can relate and is concerned about what is causing this? 

Here is what you should know:

First, we call this occurrence “hair shedding.” Losing 50 -150 strands of hair a day is quite normal, so you have nothing to worry about! Every single strand of hair will fall off between 3 and 5 years, and in relation to this, one will grow back in the same exact place. The density or the thickness of the hair will not change.

After the age of 25, the amount of hair on both men and women’s heads gradually decreases. Even so, due to the estrogen hormone in women, during the ages 20 – 40, the thickness of their hair may increase slightly. Nevertheless, after 40, they too will usually undergo a decrease in the amount of hair and hair strand density.

You may have experienced excessive hair loss due to side effects from certain illnesses. A most commonly known situation is iron deficiency, especially experienced by young women who menstruate heavily. Identifying that and treating the deficiency accordingly would be valuable for good hair growth.

Similar to iron, vitamin D plays a significant role in hair growth. You might know that when we are exposed to the sun, our skin produces Vitamin D, and even though we experience sunlight abundantly, it is not unusual for people in our country and countries similar to ours to be subjected to Vitamin D deficiency, which can cause hair loss.

At times, due to illnesses such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism (an underactive or overactive thyroid gland producing less or more of the thyroid hormone, respectively), your hair may fall. If you are showing symptoms of such instances, it is advised to do the recommended hormone tests.

Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, which is very similar to the former, are two more commonly known scalp complications. These result in minuscule flakes coming off the scalp, leading to hair fall. It is important to diagnose these conditions and treat them appropriately. Use a doctor-recommended and accepted dandruff shampoo a few times per week as a treatment to some extent.

Not to mention, chemical products used to style your hair and heating tools such as hair dryers, curlers, and straighteners would weaken your hair and prompt hair shedding. Particularly, using high levels of heat on damp hair might create air bubbles in the hair strand, known as the “Bubble Hair Syndrome,” that would damage your hair further.

Immense physical or mental stress your body goes through will also negatively impact your hair, and we call this Telogen Effluvium. For example, if you were someone who suffered from Covid or Dengue fever, you may have observed excessive hair loss after 2 to 3 months, or even if you have been subjected to a great mental stress. It can be any type of physical or mental stress, but the good news is that it will all be alright in a few months.

Moreover, an effect from the combination of your hormones and genes would result in hair loss, known as Androgenetic Alopecia, a common form of hair loss seen mostly in men but also occasionally among women.

In closing, if you think that your hair is falling excessively or that it is thinning rapidly, it is important that you meet a suitable doctor and conduct proper diagnostics.

Dr. Dulini Liyanagama
Consultant Dermatologist/MBBS,
MD (Dermatology), MRCP (UK), SCE Derm MRCP

The Dengue fever which spreads rapidly in the rainy season, is an illness caused by a virus. As there are four types of this virus, there is a fair risk of a person falling ill with dengue more than once. It has been found that the dengue virus is spread by two mosquito types called Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus.

Let us talk about the symptoms we can observe in someone who is subjected to dengue fever. As the dengue virus enters our body, we may experience a high fever, severe headaches, pain under the eyes, nausea, fatigue, and, at times, red spots on the skin. One of the main problems is that all these symptoms are quite common in many other viral illnesses. Truth be told, there are instances where even doctors have difficulty in identifying it right! So, if you do not have any other symptoms, such as throat pain, cough, flu, etc., but only the previously mentioned symptoms, you should most definitely conduct a blood test as soon as 24 hours have passed to confirm if you have dengue fever or not. With that confirmation, you have the responsibility of getting proper medical consultation from a doctor and hospitalizing or resting well at home under good supervision and care.

Between all these, there are things you should do and not do. Most importantly, apart from Paracetamol, you should strictly avoid other painkillers. Especially medicine with Aspirin should not be consumed. You should give adequate amounts of fluid to your body under the guidance and instructions given by doctors. We especially recommend fluids that do not have color in them.

During dengue fever, there comes an instance where the permeability of the blood vessel increases and the blood fluid will begin to seep out through the vessel wall, and with that, the blood pressure will decrease. In a situation like this, if we have given too much fluid to the patient, in about two days when it will be reabsorbed to their system, they may experience a few complications.

Taking all these into consideration, it is important that you do not take this lightly but take the advice given by doctors and act accordingly to get well soon and even be saved from near- death cases. Something we see often is that people die of dengue fever because of the delay in hospitalization. Therefore, it is important that you consult the doctor at the right time and take the necessary action.

Let us talk about preventing this illness altogether. There, the important thing is that we should not always be heavily reliant on chemically induced methods such as smoke or disinfectants, but know that there are simpler ways. The lifecycle of a dengue mosquito only being 7 days is a big challenge in dengue prevention, and even though it is only 7 days, the mosquitoes select places created by humans themselves where water has been collected.

A mosquito can lay eggs between 200 and 800, and the female dengue mosquito places them strategically in several places. We cannot be happy by just destroying one place where water has gathered, which shows how severe this challenge is. We should be observant and check for such places daily and disrupt them, which is when we would have successfully prevented the spreading of these mosquitoes.

Especially if you understand and work according to your social responsibility and do your part to prevent this deadly dengue fever, we will be able to see less and less people passing away. We should acknowledge that, even though we call this illness deadly, it is a problem created by us that can be prevented by us so that we witness fewer deaths from it. In conclusion, I would like to remind you that with your help, we can prevent this, and it is our social responsibility and duty to take the next steps in the right direction.

Dr. Dammika Adikariwattage
MD (MBBS), MBA, MSc, SLMC Reg No. 19696,
Medical Officer of Health
Colombo Municipal Council