Will Less Shampooing Help With Oily Hair?

I get this question all the time from patients, particularly men. Here’s the truth about shampooing and oily hair:

No matter how frequently you shampoo, your scalp produces the same amount of oil. Cutting back on shampooing will have no effect on your sebaceous glands; genetics and hormones determine the amount of oil they produce. But it will cause dirt and oil to accumulate on your scalp and hair follicles, and could cause inflammation and irritation that might stunt hair growth. How often you wash your hair is a personal decision. Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo when you feel you need it, whether that’s daily or weekly. Or if you like making shampoo mohawks.

Photo credit: FCC, Denika Robbins

A Surprising Finding About Athlete’s Foot

If you’re a guy reading this, I can be sure of two things: 1. You’ve probably suffered from athlete’s foot. 2. You’ll probably suffer from athlete’s foot again.

We know that walking barefoot in public locker rooms, gyms, and pools put you at  risk for athlete’s foot. But now there’s a new culprit in town: your laundry. When researchers in Israel compared fungus-laced socks that were washed in warm water to those washed in hot water, they found that 36% of the socks in the warm water remained contaminated while only 6% of those in the hot water did.

The take-away? Wash your gym clothes in hot water. Which would you rather have, a higher heating bill or itchy feet?

Photo Credit: FCC, Timothy Richards

Can Dandruff Cause Hair Loss?

Hole BioPic 05 F

Dandruff cannot cause hair loss.

While claims abound that dandruff causes hair loss and balding, there is no scientific evidence that it does. Though unsightly, dandruff is normal. Almost everyone experiences it at some point in his or her life, though it afflicts men more often. (For more on that, check out a recent post of mine titled, “The Truth About Men and Dandruff.“)

If you have dandruff and are experiencing patchy hair loss, then it could be any number of other hair loss diseases, including male pattern hair loss or alopecia aerata. See your dermatologist who can help you.

Photo credit: FCC, Carolyn P. Speranza

The Truth About Men and Dandruff

First Snowfall of Winter

It’s happened to the best of us. You’ve had a greet meeting with your boss or just given a killer presentation. You go out to celebrate with your buddies. As you remove your navy sport coat, you notice, to your horror, white flakes on the shoulders. And it’s not snowing outside.

Don’t beat yourself up. Dandruff is normal. Everyone has it to some degree and nearly everyone experiences a full-blown case of it at least once in his or her lifetime. Unfortunately, men get dandruff more than women.

Skin cells (including those on your scalp) are constantly sloughing off and being replaced with new ones. For people with dandruff, this skin cell turnover goes into overdrive resulting in more dead skin being shed. The result— tiny white flakes in your hair. In addition to your scalp, you can get dandruff on your eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and inside your ears, and some unlikely few will get it on their chest hair.

Before you buy anti-dandruff shampoo, determine whether or not the flakes are actually dandruff. In many instances, it’s simply hair product that has dried and begun to flake. Notice, do you get flakes only in the afternoon or evening after the product has had time to dry out? If so, it’s likely not dandruff. In general, hair gels are more prone to drying out and flaking whereas creamy pomades are less likely.

Though unsightly, dandruff is not dangerous. It won’t make you sick. It’s not contagious. And it won’t cause balding. Nevertheless, I’ve never met anyone who wants to keep his dandruff.

So, here’s how to treat dandruff and stay flake-free:

1. Try OTC medicated shampoos specially formulated for dandruff with ingredients such as ketoconazole (Nizoral shampoo), selenium sulfide (Selson Blue and Head and Shoulders), pyrithione zinc 1% (Clear Men Scalp Therapy), and tar (Neutrogena T/Gel). Yes, coal tar. It reduces both inflammation and flaking. If you don’t like the medicinal smell of these shampoos, try Clear Men Scalp Therapy which has a much more pleasant, fresh fragrance.

2. Wash hair with medicated shampoo daily. It’s a myth that shampooing makes dandruff worse. Dandruff is not dry scalp. The more frequently you wash, the more yeast you remove, leading to less dandruff.

3. You can use medicated shampoo anywhere you get dandruff including your beard, eyebrows, and chest. Just be careful when you wash around your eyes.

4. For redness and itching try hydrocortisone cream 1%, readily available at drug stores.

5. For those looking for all-natural treatments, try this: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 to 4 parts water and massage into your scalp while you’re in the shower. You can do this 1 to 3 times a day. You can also massage it into your scalp and leave on overnight  (that is, if the smell doesn’t make your partner run from the room). Having said that, vinegar, however natural, isn’t as effective as medicated shampoos.

In severe cases where your dandruff doesn’t respond to any treatments, see your dermatologist. You may have psoriasis, or another condition that warrants medical attention.

For more information about raising awareness of men’s health issues, check out my post on Movember and becoming a member. And please consider donating to this cause.

Here’s another Movember post you might enjoy reading: Why More Men Are Dying From Skin Cancer.

Photo credit: FCC, martinak15

Why More Men Are Dying From Skin Cancer

Construction worker places rebar

Scary truth: Male baby boomers (born between 1946-1955) have twice the risk of dying from melanoma as female baby boomers. Why? There are many reasons, most involving lifestyle choices:

  • Men tend to work more outdoors in fields such as construction, landscaping, and farming.
  • Men are less likely than women to wear sunscreen regularly and to cover up with clothing and hats.
  • Men spend lots of time outdoors for recreational activities such as weekend club sports. More men, especially over the age of 50, play golf. (Just one round of golf takes about 5 hours, so you do the math.) Recent statistics say about half of all melanoma skin cancers occur in men 50 and older.
  • Men are less likely to do self skin checks or schedule regular doctors visits.
  • Men are less informed about the dangers of sun exposure. Studies have shown that many national education and awareness campaigns are directed more towards women than men.

Does that mean there’s no hope? Not at all. It’s all about implementing lifestyle changes that will keep you safe.

  • Simple things like wearing hats, wrap-around sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts go a long way in keeping your skin protected. The guy pictured above is doing it right.
  • Using broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 daily and reapplying it is probably the toughest sell to men who often feel it’s a hassle. If you’ve got a man in your life, I encourage you to help him wear sunscreen regularly. I’d avoid guilt as a motivator, which doesn’t work, and opt for humor or positive comments:  Maybe something like: ”I’d really like to get the kids in the habit of using sunscreen every morning. I’d love it if you’d apply it along with them to show them it’s important.” OR “I really like having you around, honey. Who would take out the garbage every Wednesday?” You get the idea.
  • Do monthly self-skin checks, or better yet, do it with your partner. You’ll have more fun and help keep one another safe. You’re looking for new and changing moles. (Please see this video on the ABCDEs of nodular melanoma.)
  • Know your family history. If you’re at high-risk for melanoma based on genetics or lifestyle choices, then find a dermatologist you like and go for regular screenings. He or she could be the best connection you’ll ever make.
  • For more information, visit The Skin Cancer Foundation at www.skincancer.org.

For more information about raising awareness of men’s health issues, check out my post on Movember and consider becoming a member. And please consider donating to this cause.

Photo credit: FFC, USACEPublicaffairs

Grow a Moustache With Me This Movember

It’s Movember, the month when 1000′s of men across America will put down their razors and grow a moustache. Why? Because it’s a sign of solidarity in an effort to educate men on health issues, particularly testicular and prostrate cancers. Through their actions, words, a little help from testosterone, these men will spread awareness of health issues affecting men today.

Known as “Mo Bros,” these men will either go it alone, form teams, or partner with their “Mo Sistas,” women in support of the cause. (Don’t worry, the gals don’t need to grow a moustache.)

Want to join? Visit http://us.movember.com/ and register. Then explore ways you can participate — donate, host an event, attend a gala event, blog about it, tweet about it @movember and use the hash tag #movember, get in the press — whatever you can do.

And please consider helping me by donating to this cause.

How to Remove Chest Hair

Blame gold-medalist, Ryan Lochte. The Olympic swimmer’s smooth chest is igniting a trend.

Here’s a quick look at different techniques for chest hair removal:

1. Shaving: Pros: Cheap, easy. Cons: Grows back quickly; itchy chest. Shave with the grain of the hair, not against it. And Kramer’s wrong on this one. Shaved hair does not grow back thicker or darker.

2. Tweezing: Pros: Cheap, easy, hair grows back less quickly. Cons: It takes a long time, especially if you’re really hairy, and is slightly painful.

3. Depilatories: Pros: Painless, cheap. Cons: Funky smell, messy, and chemicals can cause irritation or rash.

4. Waxing: Pros: Hair grows back less quickly; faster than tweezing. Cons: It’s expensive and hurts, as Steve Carell illustrates. Don’t try it at home.

5. Electrolysis: Pros: Permanent. Cons: Permanent. Can also be expensive depending on the number of treatments needed, and hurts. It works by zapping the hair and plucking it out. The zapping part makes it more permanent than tweezing.

6. Laser hair removal: Pros: Permanent. Cons: Permanent. Very expensive and painful. It works by using a laser to explode the hair follicle, which feel like snapping a rubber band against your chest. It only works for darkly colored hairs. Lightly colored or gray hairs don’t respond.