Other Conditions & Exposures

Expert reports about Other Conditions & Exposures



What are hair treatments?

The term hair treatment can refer to any therapy that is intended to slow, or reverse alopecia, which is hair loss (baldness). Whereas alopecia occurs more often in men, women also can experience the condition, as a result of genetics, hormonal changes, or cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, or radiation therapy that involves the scalp. Hair therapy can include surgical transplantation of hair follicles (hair transplant), or patches of scalp, or removal of small areas of baldness, but it also includes drug therapy. This report covers the latter category, which includes two main medications. One medication, called minoxidil, is applied topically to the scalp. The other medication, called finasteride, is taken internally as a pill, as is a similar medication called dutasteride. Since these drugs work by interfering with the interaction between male hormones and cell surface molecules called receptors, their value is greatest in treating male baldness, and there has been some controversy regarding whether they can help thicken hair in women. Nevertheless, research suggests that the drugs do help some women thicken their hair, and consequently there is a growing number of women using the therapy.

As for cosmetic hair treatments, such as those administered at hair salons, these are generally considered safe for pregnant women, although if you work in a hair salon administering hair treatments while pregnant, you should use gloves and other precautions. This is because your exposure to chemical agents in the various reagents applied to hair will be much higher than the exposure of a woman who simply receives the treatment once in a while. For some of the pros and cons of using hair dye during pregnancy, check out this article from our blog, The Pulse.


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