Third generation homepath and trichologist Dr. Akshay Batra is the son of the well-known Dr. Mukesh Batra of Dr. Batra's clinic. He knows these problems all too well. "Being born and brought up in a family of doctors has certainly shaped-up things in a way that naturally attracted me to medical practice. More so because homeopathy is so effective, yet so gentle and safe. What pulled me towards trichology (the science of hair) is the fact that hair, apart from its cosmetic significance, has so much social and medical significance attached to it; also the large number of hair patients that we see in our daily practice. All in all, this seems to me, a design that was inherently meant to make me a trichologist," he said.
We spoke to Dr. Akshay Batra about why hair fall such a big problem today and asked him for tips and tricks to fix it. Here is an excerpt:
How is a problem with hair connected to problem in one's body?
Hair is the mirror of one's health. It's one of the fastest growing tissues in the body and hence is very sensitive to internal changes in the body. Whether it's a hormonal problem such as under or over-functioning of the thyroid gland, or a nutritional deficiency such as anemia, hair reflects the health of one's body effectively.
For instance, many of the women who come to me for hair loss problems actually have an underlying disorder such as ovarian cysts, or hypothyroidism or anemia which I have detected based on their symptoms and confirmed with blood tests thereafter. Thus, there is a deep connection between one's health and hair - it's only a matter of time and expertise to detect the same.
Regarding hair care, what should be alarm call? In other words, at what point in time should we be certain that we have a hair problem and consult a trichologist?
Hair problems are routinely ignored; at best we may try certain home remedies or work upon the 'tips' given by our hair dressers. This is certainly not the best solution we can offer ourselves.
You should know that it's time to visit a trichologist and get professional advice when your hair loss far exceeds the routine loss, and you see a lot of hair in your hair brush, on the floor of the house, in the bathroom sink, etc. Sometimes, you may not lose much hair but your hair volume may appear to be diminishing overall - this is certainly an alarm call. Also if you notice any significant changes in the quality of your hair (e.g. they become very dry and brittle) or notice any bald patches on the scalp, run to your trichologist. Basically, any change from the normal routine calls for an evaluation of your hair as well as your overall health.
For skin care, the rule of thumb is cleaning, toning and moisturizing. What is the rule of thumb for hair care?
Regular shampoo, conditioning and avoidance of chemical treatments and cosmetic procedures on hair - this is the best gift you can give your hair. If you must color your hair, use ammonia-free hair colors.
While choosing a shampoo or conditioner for our hair, what are some of the things we need to look for in the product(s)?
Choose a shampoo that has natural active ingredients rather than chemical-based ones. Ideally, you shampoo should have a pH that is close to that of your scalp (6.5). Remember, too much of lather is not a good thing. Conditioners, on the other hand, are chosen based on your 'hair type' because they are applied to the hair strands and not the scalp. Dry, frizzy hair call for intense moisturizing conditioners whereas normal hair do not need such heavy-duty conditioners.
What are some of the strangest myths you have heard with regards to hair and hair care. Also share some facts and figures about hair problems.
Some strange, but common myths about hair are: frequent shampooing causes the hair to fall out, oiling makes hair grow thick and long, no visible hair loss means no balding, etc. I come across a number of them in my day-to-day practice and I have extensively discussed these in my recently-launched book "Hair - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know"
The book also carries some very interesting facts and figures (about hair problems) that came up in a survey conducted by us. For instance: 75 % of women find balding men to be less attractive. Over 80% people feel that hair loss would affect their self-esteem. And a whopping 85% people feel that hair is the most important part of their appearance!
Normally people would not attach homeopathy to a hair problem. How does homeopathy help in hair issues? What are the advantages and disadvantages of homeopathy in hair care?
International scientific studies have proven that remedies used in homeopathy are effective in controlling hair loss. Clinical studies too have proved the efficacy of homeopathy in hair loss - over and over. The remedies help to slow down the hair loss, to control stress (which is major factor in hair loss) and to maintain good health in general (which is essential for good hair health).
Homeopathy is mind-body medicine - it treats hair problems from the roots and without any side effects - which means no disadvantages. It reduces the recurrence of hair problems and has been a trusted form of medicine for more than 200 years.
Dr Akshay Batra is India’s first Trichologist at The Trichological Society of London. He is also the youngest, first-ever non-UK-based Trichologist to receive the prestigious Robert Olding Award for outstanding achievement and personal endeavour in Trichology. He has recently written a book called “Hair: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know”.