Beauty isn’t always pretty. Sometimes we’re faced with an unexpected problem, such as thinning hair. Other times we battle a problem we’ve had for years, such as acne or excessive sweating.
Such problems tend to have an unfortunate association with poor hygiene and thus carry a social stigma that can cause people extreme embarrassment. If the condition is chronic, such embarrassment can lead to emotional problems.
The most common kind of baldness is called male pattern baldness. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s caused by a combination of genetic inheritance and the presence of specific male hormones. Usually you have a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown of the head. If your hair is thinning, cutting it more often won’t make it grow faster or thicker. If you’re really confident, embrace your baldness by shaving your head. Women who are self-conscious about their thinning hair can consider wearing a wig.
Some people find that minoxidil (Rogaine), an over-the-counter topical medication, will regrow a modest amount of hair. Hair transplant or replacement is the most expensive option for men and women with thinning hair. Modern hair transplantation uses micrografting to transfer hair follicles to bald or thinning areas.
Unwanted body hair can be just as distressing as baldness, particularly for women who have hair on their chin or upper lip. Shaving such hair often yields cosmetically unsatisfying results. A hair removal product may produce a better result if it doesn’t cause too much skin irritation. Another option for light-skinned people is to bleach the hair to make it less noticeable. Those with bigger budgets can consider electrolysis or laser treatments. These treatments are permanent and effective but are expensive and time-consuming ways of keeping hair from growing back.
Chronic excessive sweating of the palms, face, armpits, or feet is a nervous system disorder known as hyperhidrosis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, treatments for hyperhidrosis include:
- Anticholinergic medications such as glycopyrrolate, oxybutynin, or benztropine may be useful in controlling perspiration, but they often have unacceptable side effects.
- Use of an electrical current to disrupt sweat glands may help, but this therapy requires time-consuming daily treatments.
- Injection of Botox into the armpits is very effective in reducing perspiration. This treatment may work on the palms and face as well, but the paralyzing effect of the drug limits its usefulness in these areas.
- A surgical procedure can cure the condition by severing the nerves responsible for sending the signals that trigger excessive sweating. This procedure is also effective for those who blush inappropriately. However, the procedure carries several serious risks and must be performed under general anesthesia.
Most of us have had to deal with acne at some point in our lives. Acne is an inflammatory condition that occurs when glands in the hair follicles become plugged with dead skin cells and bacteria. It’s most common on the face, shoulders, back, and chest. According to Mayo Clinic, acne occurs more frequently among adolescents because hormonal changes during puberty affect the oil glands. However, it can affect a person of any age.
As with baldness, acne is primarily related to heredity and hormonal factors. It’s unrelated to poor hygiene practices. As anyone who has had it knows, acne can’t be treated or prevented simply by washing your face. Of course, if you wear makeup, make sure it’s an oil-free formulation.
Over-the-counter medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid may be effective in managing acne, but many people suffer with the condition far too long before consulting a dermatologist or family doctor. Prescription topical antibiotics and medications containing vitamin A (retinoids) are often highly effective. Severe, intractable acne may require treatment with isotretinoin (Accutane), an oral vitamin A preparation available by prescription. Patients who take this drug must be closely monitored for side effects, and women of childbearing age must ensure they don’t become pregnant while taking isotretinoin and for a short time afterward. The drug is known to cause birth defects. Treatment lasts about four months. The drug’s effects are dramatic, often clearing severe acne completely, and the change is usually permanent.