UAE’s online newspaper, The National, recently ran an article entitled ‘Mystery Hair Loss Afflicts the UAE’. The story reveals that doctors and specialists are confused about the high numbers of people with hair loss. Over a third of people living in the country say that they have lost hair to some degree. A survey for The National, conducted by pollster YouGov, found that 37% of all respondents had lost hair, with Emiratis, Arab and Asian expatriates being the most affected. It also revealed that 47% of women were suffering from the condition.
Interestingly, the problem was seen most in the 21-29 age bracket ,with 42% saying they had lost hair, followed closely by the 30-39 age bracket (39%) and the under-21s (35%). Surprisingly, the group that claimed least hair loss was the over-40s, with only 26% being affected.
While hair loss is a more common condition than many think, those living in the UAE do seem to be more affected. Reasons for the higher numbers vary. Some blame it on the quality of the water, the dry weather conditions, stress or genetics. Doctors say that it is probably a combination of all of these factors.
Dr Safwan Khraisheh, a dermatologist at the Gulf Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi, told The National that hair loss was a “big, big problem” in the UAE compared with other countries. He treats up to 10 people a day, most of whom are women. Explaining that it is important to rule out medical conditions such as anaemia or thyroid problems, which can lead to hair loss, Dr Khraisheh thinks the water may play a part due to the high levels of salt. He adds that stress could also be a major factor, but that, for men, it is usually male pattern (genetic) baldness.
The National also spoke to Dr Rolf Soehnchen, a dermatologist at the American Hospital Dubai, who said the problem was “quite obvious” and mostly affected expatriate women between 25 and 45 years old.
Scientists have found a link to a deficiency in vitamin D. The National highlighted research conducted last year by Afrozul Haq, a clinical scientist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, which found that women wearing abayas were not exposed to sunlight, leading to a fall in their vitamin D levels. Haq said that 65% of the hospital’s female patients and 60% of male patients were deficient in the vitamin.
Dr Khraisheh would like to see further research carried out across the entire UAE, screening for anaemia, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Some residents of the UAE think the chlorine in the water is causing increased shedding, although there have been studies that show that swimmers regularly exposed to chlorinated water do not suffer more hair loss than non-swimmers.
Once the underlying cause of the hair loss can be established, and if it is not genetic, then the patient can go about resolving the problem though nutrition, medications or avoiding chlorine. However, if the hair has already been affected, it may require a proven hair loss treatment to kick-start a healthy growth cycle.
If the cause is genetic, then hair loss treatments could also prevent further shedding and help restore the hair. Minoxidil and Propecia are the only two products licensed by the MHRA and ‘FDA-approved’ for the treatment of hair loss in the UK and the USA respectively. This means that they have successfully undergone clinical trials and been shown to be safe and highly effective in treating both hair loss in men and hair loss in women.
If you have suffered from thinning hair or hair loss and would like to arrange a free consultation, please call 020 7730 6666 or message the clinic. If you are unable to visit the clinic, for instance, if you live abroad, please complete the online diagnostic form and we will arrange for a consultation via the website.