Winter Scalp Care

Have you ever experienced itchiness, flaking during winter time?

The answer is probably yes, at least for me it is specially now that I wear my hair naturally curly and pay attention to it!

The reason why this happens is a generally a dry scalp, it could also be due to dandruff but then it would not be a seasonal thing…but we will get to that later.

The scalp is part of our skin complex so the same way the rest of our body is exposed to lower external temperatures, dry heating indoors and overall winter abuse (so much drama XD) our scalp also suffers, but there is hope. I will share with you a few tips that help me keep my scalp happy, my hair growing and my winters carefree.

  1. Keep your scalp clean: It is true that shampoo has a drying effect in our scalp but don’t rule it out completely in this season because we don’t want to end up in a situation where we create so much build up that end up getting dandruff making matters worse.
  • 2. Cleanse your scalp correctly: This point varies from person to person but a few general guidelines can be followed:

    Avoid harsh shampoos for example 2-1 shampoos tend to contain more than one deep cleanser, the same is true for shampoos for oily hair.

      Do not let go too long in between (shampoo) washes, this is the season to cowash midweek or once a week depending on your previous schedule to replenish moisture and remove debris from your scalp at the same time.

        Use warm water to cleanse, avoid hot water as it will only help dry out the scalp even more.

        • 3. Scalp Massages: Consider including oils in your routine even if you normally avoid them, nightly oil scalp massages can go a long way in keeping your scalp healthy and itch free during winter. A few good options are castor oil, black castor oil and jojoba oil.
        • 4. Use scarfs and hats to protect not only your scalp but your hair from the harsh weather.
        • 5. Exfoliate your scalp: You can make a basic sugar scrub with olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil or get commercial scrubs as well.
        • 6. Stay hydrated: Even if we don’t sweat as much in winter as we do in summer the insensible losses from our skin, breathing, etc. puts us at risk of being dehydrated; so make sure to drink plenty of fluids!
        • In case of dandruff all of the above also applies, but make sure to not skip on your regular antidandruff shampoo and if the dandruff worsens or scabs and skin lesions appear on your scalp make sure to visit your physician to figure out the issue.
        • Cheers and Happy Holiday Season
        • Dr. L.

        Anonymous no more!

        Happy Sunday word press!

        This draft has been sitting on my notes, for well, more than a year and the final product does not resemble the original post because a lot has changed since.

        The original title was “I am not my Job”

        It took a lot of encouragement from a friend outside the medical profession to get this blog started and I was adamant on keeping it private, anonymous; because this is not what “doctors do” but I am not just a doctor, I am a person.

        I saw the prompt Overcome and decided to finally overcome my fear to post this opinion, that I always shared with my colleagues or classmates but being the youngest in my class by several years (advance class misfit hereūüí™) my age was always a reason to dismiss certain “radical opinions”.

        I am still not ready to share my full name but I have slowly transitioned from Anonymous to Hair Lab MD to L.

        I am not my job, what inspired this post was a common saying in the Curly Community “I am not my hair” and I was like well I may not be my hair but my interest is hair now, natural curly hair.

        I currently have no sponsors for the next medical congress I want to attend, because being in Germany, still on my Journey to validate my medical license, I do not work at a clinic that would sponsor my trip. This congress is exclusive to Hair Research and while my areas of interest and experience are more focused towards facial rejuvenation and anti-aging, my hair Journey has influenced me to want to work from a medical profesional point of view with hair, all hair types but specially curly hair; where from my sometimes frustrating searches of peer reviewed articles, I have noticed a lack of research focused on hair types other than caucasian straight hair and that is why my medical/science blog has been stuck for so long.

        Now, cosmetic chemists they are publishing but again the approach is different; still my current inspirations are cosmetic chemists and I fantasize about what would it be like to sit among kids in their late teens doing a BA in Chemistry…the results of these fantasies are always awkward interactions and an absurd generational gap, but I remind myself that age is just a number which I will continue to not reveal because I truly believe age should not matter in the professional world. Qualifications and results matter more than how old or young you are.

        My question for you is shall I “crowdfund” my Hair research congress attendance by rushing a side project I started recently and that has a clear long term timeline?

        My idea is simple on stage 1: spread positivity using Curly hair tees, create awareness, mix in a little science, then go a bit more academic; is it wise to change plans? My own answer is not, but 15 year old me would have said well duh! Do it what gives…

        I have until September 29 to register to attend the International Hair Research Congress, but the congress is not until November, so I would think I have time to sell a few tees instead of asking for “donations” but promoting them in a way that the proceeding would finance this congress attendance fee. It would give it, to me, somehow a feeling of community and a certain emotional value. I find the idea weird, but I also like it. So here are I am asking WordPress bloggers their opinion.

        I want to attend and learn from what others who are in the field are doing.

        My final goal is to be able to submit an abstract for a future European Hair Research Society Congress or any of it’s sister societies focusing in understanding the biology of multicultural and afro hair and get a grant for such purpose.

        <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
        b, yes I am not my hair but rediscovering my hair has also helped me rediscover my love for medicine & research. I have found new ways to love my career through hair.

        Should I fear Parabens?

        The quick answer: no

        For the long answer: I quote the American Cancer Society and the summary is no too.

        “Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives and as food additives. They can be found in many types of make-up (like lipstick, mascara, concealer, and foundation) and skin care products (like lotion, shaving products, and sunscreen). Parabens can be absorbed through the skin.

        Intake of parabens is a possible concern because studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide…

        In 2004, a small study found traces of parabens in some samples of breast cancer tumors…there are some points about the study findings:

        They looked only for the presence of parabens in breast cancer samples, it did not show that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development in these cases ‚Äď it only showed that they were there. What this meant is not yet clear.

        …parabens have weak estrogen-like properties, the estrogens that are made in the body are many times stronger…natural estrogens (or hormone replacement) are much more likely to play a role in breast cancer development.

        This study did not contain any information to help find the source of the parabens found in the breast tissue ‚Äď it’s not clear if they might have come from antiperspirants or from some other source.

        Most people are exposed to parabens…studies have found some form of parabens in the urine in up to 99% of people in the US…so far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer…many other compounds in the environment that mimic naturally produced estrogen”

        A few Myths & Facts about Parabens

        Myth: Parabens cause cancer.

        Fact: Parabens have been extensively studied to address this claim and have been deemed safe.

        Myth: Parabens are harmful to skin & hair.

        Fact: Some people are allergic to parabens & fragances in cosmetics therefore those who are sensitive will have a negative reaction and should avoid them. It is important to visit your doctor if you have any skin concerns, a physician is the most qualified person to help you with your skin concerns.

        Myth: Parabens are bad for the environment or “nasty” beauty.

        Fact: In a study published in 2015 parabens were found in Marine life, but there seemed to be no negative effects on the study subjects. The significance of this finding is yet to be determined, and probably more studies will be conducted in the future. As of today no environmental damage can be attributed to parabens, partly because what is known about this compound is that it degrades quite fast so it does not seem to accumulate.

        What is the use of parabens, anyways?

        Parabens are preservatives and preservatives are important to keep our personal care products free of contamination by bacterias or other harmful agents and extend their shelf life, they are not active ingredients but more of an agent necessary to maintain the integrity of a product from it’s manufacturing process until the moment it reaches the consumer and while it is being used by said consumer, basically all of us.

        Preservatives are not a bad thing, fear mongering is.

        Let me know if you have any questions and if you would like to see more posts like this one in the comments section or find me on IG: The Hair Lab

        Untitled too 

        Flawed? Ugly? Weird? Eww yuk? Who told you that?

        Society, your boss, a friend, an adversary a colleague or yourself looking at the mirror and hating what you see?
        What you think becomes what you feel.
        Think right feel right. Think right and you can cope, adapt and adjust regardless of the external forces against, or in your favor. Think wrong and you may become ill and you will suffer. This is not hopeful woo, this is science, neuroscience and in the same way as it took years of “hard work” for your brain to wire itself in a way that it will work against you (depression, low self esteem, personality disorders,etc) it will take hard work and professional help from a doctor, a therapist, a nutritionist, or a fitness instructor to help you improve your life and come to terms with how you look and more importantly, who you are.

        Change can begin from the inside out, or from the outside in. I obviously like fitness, facial architecture & aesthetics, and now I like hair appearance and I firmly believe that if you want to improve yourself you are free to pursue it, but be mindful of the thought behind the emotion.

        There is nothing wrong with using modern medicine to be better, it is not weak to get medical treatment for acne, it is not vain to get “work done”, it not arrogant to be fit and eat well; but the thought behind it, is what defines whether it is good or bad thing for you X or Y physical change.

        Genetics & culture do play a role, in the perception of beauty, that is undeniable we might wish it would not be so but it is.  Do not aspire to be beautiful, you already are, aspire to be healthy.

        How you look does not define you, but the world we live in judges our “look” and that is also a fact. I can’t disclose patient info but I can tell you that the medical profesion is not devoid of sociocultural biases on apperance. A female, beautiful doctor is still expected to be less competent than her fellow men, but so what? It only means she has to work harder to get respect that is all.

        The only way to be happy is to be healthy.

        Carrie Fisher

        I have no words, but I will still make the effort to write something about this remarkable woman and creative mind.
        Who is Carrie Fisher? I did not know her personally, but if you follow me on IG you know I do 2 things asides hair, I science and I Star Wars, from my science (neuroscience) point of view she is the prime example of SURVIVAL. Carrie Fisher played princess Leia and General Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but she was much more grand than that.

        3 words defined Carrie for me: RESILIENCE, COURAGE & HOPE.

        She had a disease called bipolar disorder, which justified her behaviors in her early carreer & she struggled & talked openly about it as an advocate for Mental health and kept working.
        People complained about her looks bla bla bla but taking certain medications may affect the way people look & her looks were beside the point anyways.

        She made a career later on, after the original trilogy not based on looks but on hard work, harder than most, and she proved that she could be successful despite and because of her disadvantages (gender, mental health,etc) She was great until the last day. I highly recommend watching her interview with Steven Fry (he also has bipolar disorder and made a film about it, I disagree with leaving illness untreated but it was a good film) and also watch the red carpet interviews of the london premiere of The Force Awakens she was THE BEST! She will be missed but never forgotten by so many of us for so many reasons. I will remember her for her Courage to be herself and be a positive role model to anyone with Mood Disorders, the correct term, that you can you should try to live.

        A note on Mental Health

        The only people qualified to treat Mood Disorders are Doctors.

        Not all my patients, had mood disorders but as a Doctor with a Neuroscience background I can treat mood disorders & anxiety on a basic level. I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I collaborated with them my scope of treatment of Mood Disorders is limited to mild to moderate cases of depression, but what all Mood disorders have in common is the sense of guilt and illness shaming.
        I know the biology of depression,due to my background as a scientific communicator and physician; it is an illness where you can see in the brain a down regulation of serotonin receptors and many more things just like you can see blood when you cut your finger but the skin can be seen with the Naked eye and the brain can not.

        I worked with a team that assessed the safety profile of an antidepressant drug some time ago and as it was obvious that I needed to know everything brain, to be able to communicate more effectively that was what got me hooked on neuroscience and guided my future academic interests.
        My point is that having depression or Bipolar disorder nowadays and talking about it  is like saying you have the bubonic pest, but Carrie used her personal experience, influence and courage to talk about it for everyone who could be afraid to loose their family, livelihood or job for suffering from it. I once read on an interview that she hoped she could have romantic relationships, I will need to fact check this but it does sound like her alright and it made me feel a bit sad for her and reflect upon the need to do more to educate society about Mood Disorders in General.

        image

        “Depression bipolar or not is a biological illness, it is an illness of an organ that happens to control the rest of the body” I said that.

        Most people decide to call mental illness crazy or laziness. Family and friends sometimes are the most unhelpful, because of their poor¬†attempts to “help” (out of ignorance) they either treat them (the patients) like less or blame them for their illness… and at work? don’t get me started about work place abuse and stigma.

        About Mood Disorders in the clinical practice: My experience as a Physician

        In¬†my country, as a physician you don’t have to disclose in paper always any¬†diagnosis; but what many employers do (unlawfully) is that they ask their workers to tell them, so I always made sure to educate all my patients to disclose symptoms instead of a diagnosis such as changes in bodily function instead of saying they have depression or anxiety. I usually¬†referred my patients after the initial diagnosis and follow up because I ¬†worked as a visiting physician only for a few months 2-3 and I could not¬†do the long term follow up required for managing the brain biochemical imbalances that psychiatrists could, but I also know that more often than not those referrals were not followed up, by my patients because “if you visit a psichiatist you must be crazy right?” another stigma. One patient once told me that Neuroscience sounded better than psychiatry so he would not go see a crazy doctor and he might have been on to something there. The stigma in the society is a problem.
        One Mentor gave me that advice (to protect mental health issues diagnosis from employers) when I was a med student, I enquired if it would not be deliberately lying about a diagnosis and she said “it is not lying, if it is the truth” and more often than not depression comes with visible physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders. I only understood why the secrecy was important until years later while sitting in my office with a mother crying because she was afraid that if she took the meds her boss would find out and fire her.

        A powerful Carrie Fisher Quote

        “One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
        They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.‚ÄĚ
        Carrie Fisher

        If you need help understanding mental health awareness, do not hesitate to contact me on my IG:Dr_vasquez_MD

        May the Force be with you.

        Rest in Peace Carrie Fisherimage