Hair troubles and treatments

30 March; Author: Hair Extensions Australia

Hair troubles and treatments


Hair is a filamentous growth of dead cells from the skin found only on mammals. There are two types of hair – (1) the lanugo (vellus) hair and (2) the terminal hair.There are differences in rate of growth, structure, length and responses to various stimuli for hairs in body. Males are having more terminal hairs particularly on face, chest, abdomen, legs, arms while females are having more vellus hairs. Average humanhas 100,000 hair fol1icles. Each follicle can grow about 20 individual hairs in a person’s lifetime. Average hair loss is about 100 strands a day. Primary component of hair fibre is keratine. (1)

Anatomy of Hair

Hair is a derivative of epidermis. Hair is composed of two parts- ­

(1)   Hair Root (Inside the epidermis)

The hair bulb, the lowermost portion of the root, is an expanded mass of epithelial cells which give rise to different types of keratinized cells. The upper portion of the bulb produces the medulla of the hair, the hair cortex, and the hair cuticle. The cuticle cells of the hair and those of the internal sheath are interdigitated, an arrangement which locks the hair in the follicle.

    (2) Hair Shaft (Outside the epidermis)

The cuticle cells overlap each other so as to form a tight imbricated “capsule” containing the cortex. The fusiform keratinized cells of the cortex are tightly arranged in the long axis. (2)

Hair growth cycles: – Three phases ­

1.      Anagen (Growth Phase): During this phase the hair is actively growing. The growth phase is of about 2-6 years.
Catagen (Transitional phase): This phase lasts about 3 to 4 weeks. The dermal papilla condenses and cells of the follicle stop growing.
Telogen (Resting Phase): During this phase the dermal papilla becomes isolated in the dermal area. This phase lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. (3)

Characteristic Features of Hairs

Physical properties of hair
1.      Elasticity: Hair can resist forces that could changes its shape, its volume or its length. The elasticity of hair depends on the long keratin fibers in the cortex. Both natural sunlight and artificial ultraviolet light break down chemicals in the hair and damage its elasticity.
2.      Static electricity: When dry hair is rubbed, static electric charge builds up on the hairs. This is especially noticeable in hot, dry weather. The result is flyaway hair, which stands out from the head and looks unmanageable.
3.      Moisture Content:

In heat and humidity  –           more moisture, less static electricity,  collapse.

In dry condition          –           less moisture,   more static electricity, more volume.

      When hair is wet the cortex swells and the edges of the cuticle scales tend to lift.   

4.      Porosity: The cuticle covering the cortex is intact, and is then almost waterproof. Increasing the temperature, or applying an alkaline lotion, separates the scales of the cuticle enough to allow the chemicals to pass through.
5.      Texture: Much of the attraction of a beautiful head of hair lies in its texture, or feel. Texture of hair depends on several things. The first is the average diameter of the individual hairs. Secondly, different people’s hair naturally feels different. Thirdly, the texture is affected by the degree of weathering of hair.
6.      pH; The ideal pH sof hair is between 4.5 and 5.5. Above 5.5 the hair starts to open and below 4.5 it starts to contract. (4)

Chemical composition of hair

Human hair is a complex fiber made up of various morphological components and different chemical species. Different chemical components in the human hair act together, to maintain the normal flow of functions.

1. Protein: Human hair contains about 83-87% proteins. Protein is the most important element and is present throughout the hair from root to tip. Hair, from its growth under the skin of the scalp, is filled with a fibrous protein called keratin. Most of the keratinous proteins are present within the cortical cells. The keratin protein found in hair is called “hard” keratin. (5)

2. Water: Water content is about 7%. It promotes normal and healthy hair growth and provides healthy hair appearance. When it is impregnated with water the weight increases by 12-18%. (4)

3. Hair Lipids: It is about 3% in hair. Hair lipids are composed of fatty acid, ceramide, cholesterol and cholesterol sulfate. The lipid content of the hair is not constant but varies with age and other factors. (4)

4. Hair Pigments: These are about 2% in hair. Melanin is the hair pigment which gives colour to the hair. They are produced by a group of specialized cells called melanocytes. Eumelanin form of melanin gives different shades ranging from black to brown. Phaeomelanin gives yellow, ginger and red shades to the hair. (5)

5. Trace Elements: Other than these important elements, the chemical composition of hair also contains trace elements which are essentials for its healthy functionality. These elements are Al, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ca, Fe, Mg, Zn, etc. (4)

Denaturation of Hair

Denaturation disrupts the normal alpha-helix and beta sheets in a protein and uncoils it into a random shape. Denaturation occurs because the bonding interactions responsible for the secondary structure (hydrogen bonds to amides) and tertiary structure are disrupted. The most common observation in the denaturation process is the precipitation or coagulation of the protein. A variety of reagents and conditions can cause denaturation;

Alcohol Disrupts Hydrogen Bonding.
Acids and Bases Disrupt Salt Bridges.
Heavy Metal Salts Disrupt Disulfide Bonds.
Reducing Agents Disrupt Disulfide Bonds. (6)


1.      Alopecia areata ­

Alopecia areata is considered an autoimmune disease. In alopecia areata, white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Alopecia is called ‘Indralupta’ or ‘Khalitya’ in Ayurveda. The Kuff with blood blocks hair papilla so hairs are not generated and Alopecia is produced.

2.      Dandruff­

Dandruff causes due to oily skin, shampooing too, a poor diet, and stress. But, the real culprit may be fat-eating, yeast­ like fungus called Malassezia. This results in a large number of dead skin cells. Dead cells become white and cause ‘Rucci’ in hairs. It is called Darunak in Ayurveda.

3.      Premature Graying of Hair­

The physiologic basis for graying of the hair is the inability of melanocytes in the hair matrix. The graying may occur independently of any change in the structure or growth of the hair. It is called Palit Rogin Ayurveda.Angerness, Sadness and Hard work produce ‘Heat’ and ‘Pitta’ in body. These ‘Heat’ and ‘Pitta’ after reaching in head make the hairs gray or white in early age.

4.      Head Lice ­

Head lice is a parasitic insects found most commonly behind the ears and near the neckline in hairs. The medical term is Pediculus Humanus Capitis. It causes scalp itching, sensation, red sores on scalp etc. This is called Arunshika in Ayurveda. Because of ‘Kuff, ‘Pitta’ and Worms the hairs become weak and multiheaded with some sebaceous spots.

5.      Folliculitis­

Folliculitis is the infection of hair follicles. This can occur anywhere on the skin or scalp. Folliculitis looks like acne pimples or non-healing, crusty sores.

6.      Hirsutism (Excess of hair)-

Hirsutism can be caused by abnormally high levels of male hormones (androgens). Other symptoms include acne, deepening of the voice and increased muscle mass. Women who have hirsutism have dark, thick hair on their face, chest, abdomen and back.


Allopathic Aspects

1. Alopecia areata

 Drugs: Corticosteroids, Minoxidil, Anthralin, Sulfasalazine.

    Marketed Products

(i)     Tugain (5% Minoxidil) by Cipla Pharmaceutical Ltd.

(ii)    Multigain (Spray) by Torrent Pharma Ltd.

(iii)  Minoxidil Topical Solution by Alpharma Ltd.

(iv)  Hisone by Smarth Pharma Ltd. (7)

2. Dandruff

    Drugs: Salicylic acid, Selenium Sulfide, Ketoconazole

      Marketed Products

(i)      Clinic All Clear Shampoo by Hindustan Lever Ltd.

(ii)    Candid – TV Suspension by Glenmark Pharma Ltd.

(iii)  Cetrimide by Nicholas Pharma Ltd.

(iv)  Nizoral Shampoo.

 3. Premature Graying of Hair­

       Drugs: Vitamin (Biotin) Suppliments.

    Marketed Product – Bencozyme Forte. (8)

 4. Head Lice ­

      Drugs:  Lindane, Trimethoprim,­ Sulfamethoxazole.

      Marketed Products

         (i)  Keralice (1 % Permethrin) by Femcare Pvt. Ltd.

        (ii)  Permisol (5% Pennethrin) by Geolife Sciences Ltd.

        (iii) Kwell by Dey’s Pharma Ltd.

        (iv) Septra and Bactrim by Nicholas Pharma Ltd.

5.      Folliculitis­

Drugs: Minocycline, Tetracycline, Ammonium Lactate, Cortisone.

Marketed Products

(i)     Syno by lndilina Pharma Ltd.

(ii)    Bactroban Ointment by Prime Life Science Ltd.

(iii)    Tetrasil by Melissa Pharma Ltd.

6.  Hirsutism (Excess of hair)-

Drugs: Finasteride, Dexamethasone, Spironolactone.

Marketed Products

(i)           Ladogal by Aventis Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)         Evalon by Infar Pharma Ltd. (9)

 Ayurvedic Aspects                                             

1.      Indralupta or Khalitya

Drugs: Narikelamrit (Cocos nucifera), Tilashthak, Extract of Tila (Sesamum indicum) leaves and roots, Bhringrajswaras (Eclipta alba) and Bhringraj Taila

Marketed Products

(i)     Nutrich Oil by Ayu Labs Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)    Sessa Oil by Ban Labs Ltd.

(iii)  Ambica Hair Tonic by Medi Herbs Pvt. Ltd.

(iv)  Bhringraj Taila by Dabur Pvt. Ltd. (9)

2.      Darunak

Drugs: Bhringraj swaras, Chamalipan (Jasmium officinalis), Bibhitak, Mastak, Patolpatra.

Marketed Products

(i)     Bhringraj Taila by Dabur Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)    Trichup by Vasu Pharma Ltd.

(iii)  Shakuntalam Oil by Nagarjun Pvt. Ltd.

(iv)  Harims Shampoo by Sushrut Krupa Pharma Ltd. (10)

3.      ‘Palit Rog’ (Premature graying of hairs)

Drugs: Bhrinbrrajswaras, Extract of Indigofera tinctoria leaf, Godanti Bhasma, Gandhak Rasayan, Shilajeet sudha.

Marketed Products

(i)           Bhringraj Kesh Taila by Dabur Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)         Shyam Kesh Taila by Vasu Pharma Ltd.

(iii)       Hariras Mehandi by Sushrutkrupa Pharma Ltd.

(iv)       Sessa Oil & Capsule by Ban Labs Ltd. (11)

4.      Arunshika

Drugs: Alcoholic extract of seeds of Indigofera tinctoria, Sesamum indicum, Cocos nucifera oil.

Marketed Products

(i)     Hariras Hair Cleaner by Sushrut Krupa Pharma Ltd.

(ii)   Trichup Shampoo by Vasu Pharma Ltd. (10)

Homeopathic Aspects­

1.      Alopecia areata

      Drugs: Acidum Phos., Jaborandi, Lecithinum, Lactulaka Sativa, Embellica off.

      Marketed Products

(i)     Arnica Plus by Allen Laboratories Ltd.

(ii)    R89 by Tegor Laboratories Ltd.

(iii)  Jaborandi by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

(iv)  Coconica Hair Oil by SBL Pvt. Ltd. (7)

2.      Dandruff

Drugs: Armoracia Sat Q., Arsenicum Alb., Kalium Sulph., Psorinum.

Marketed Products

(i)     Montana hair shampoo by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)   Scalptone by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

(iii)  Annoca Plus – S by Allen Laboratories Ltd. (11)

3.      Premature Gryaing of Hair

Drugs: Acidum Phos., Lycopodium, Pilocarpus 1000, Polysorbattam.

Marketed Products

(i)     Scalptone by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)    Jaborandi by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

(iii)   Bioforce AG by Holistic Remedies Pvt. Ltd. (12)

4.      Head Lice

Drugs: Lycopodium- 200, Calendula, Jaborandi, Camphora MT.

Marketed Products

(i)     Hair Aid by Baksan Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd.

(ii)   Arnica Montana Shampoo by SBL Pvt. Ltd.

5.      Hirsutism

Drugs: Oleum Jec, 3x, Thuja occidentalis. 1ml.  (13)


To impart gloss, shine and luster to hair, many domestic preparations are used in our country from ancient time. Some preparations among these are:

Equal amounts of Shikakai, Aritha are boiled in water for 20-25 minutes. This mixture is used to wet henna and applied to hair. Shikakai and Aritha impart Shine and strength to hair, whereas henna imparts colour to hair.
Another traditional preparation is paste of dried mango seeds. Mango seeds are dried in shade, then these are broken and inner portion of these are separated. These are then grinded to make a black paste with water. This preparation imparts natural black colour to white hair.
Egg yolk is mixed with lemon juice (1 tea spoon) and mustard oil (1 tea spoon) to impart smoothness and shine to hair. This preparation is used for hard and rough hair.
Lemon juice is added to curd and then egg yolk is mixed with it. This mixture is applied to drive away dandruff effectively.
Boiled tea water is used to make loose henna paste and this paste is kept in an iron utensil for overnight. This paste is then applied to hair to impart colour to hair with better luster and stability.
A paste of licorice made by grinding it in milk can be applied in the bald patches. It induces hair growth. A paste of seeds of lemon and black pepper may also be applied on the bald patches. (10)


Natural Supplements

Natural supplements are a specific blend of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that are known to benefit in hair loss. Some of the ingredients in one particular supplement include Biotin, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and zinc. Herbs that may be used for hair loss treatment is Siberian Ginseng and Pumpkin.

Herbs and Diet Treat Hair Loss                       

Certain foods are key ingredients for the proper function of hormones and for nourishing scalp and hair roots. A high protein diet can be very beneficial in promoting hair growth because keratin, a type of protein, is one of its main building elements. Some nuts and greens, like spinach, sunflower seeds, and walnuts, have shown their positive effect on preventing hair loss and maintaining healthy hair.

Aloe:  It has anti-inflammatory, emollient and nourishing properties and helps to maintain healthy and thick hair.

Lavender: It has strong anti-inflammatory effects and is helpful in treating Alopecia.

Capsicum:  It accelerates hair growth and increases the blood circulation of the scalp. It is used for treating hair loss conditions that are triggered by a reduced blood and nutrients flow to the scalp.  

Burdock: It is helpful for treating scalp irritation, as well as reversing hair thinning caused by alopecia. Also, burdock supplies essential fatty acids and natural phytosterols to hair roots, thus, improving hair shine and strength.

Ginger: It is a circulatory agent that helps boost the growing cycle of hair follicles. In addition, it is rich in beneficial oils, which act against hair shaft thinning.  

Rosemary:  It promotes circulation and helps eliminate scalp sebum accumulations and dandruff.

Sage: It contains potent astringent and antiseptic components that stimulate growth. It also adds strength and thickness to hair. (15)


Head hair is beauty of human being. Characteristics like elasticity, static electricity, moisture content, diameter, porosity, texture, pH etc. are properties that govern physical appearance of hair. Chemically hair consists of keratin protein, water, lipids, pigments and trace elements such as Al, Mn, Zn, Mg, Ca, Fe, Cu etc. Various ailments like Alopecia, Dandruff, Folliculitis, Decoloration etc. pose threat to hair and hair growth. Remedies to such hair diseases include Allopathic, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic treatments along with Hair transplantation to cope baldness. To enhance beauty and properties of hair, various commercial or natural pharmaceutical products are used such as Hair dye, Henna, Amla, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair oil, Hair creams and Tonics, Hair removers etc. Hair problems can also be solved by taking proper diet and nutrient supplements and to keep you away from stress and pollution.


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Meenakshi B., Kamal S.Rathore, Sunita P., Nema R.K.

Reader, B.N.Girls College of Pharmacy, Udaipur

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