Health & Environment

The youth of today are balding

Typically seen as an indicator of old age, the problem of hair loss is also affecting the younger generation.

A 13-year-old male secondary student suffered from severe hair loss after spending his two-month summer holiday playing computer games.

By the time the boy sought medical attention, his hair had thinned so much it resembled that of a 70-year-old man. "Even most of his eyebrow hair fell out too," said Dr Iris Yeung Man-ting, a Chinese medicine practitioner and specialist in pediatrics and dermatology.

Dr Yeung said the boy she spoke of was an extreme case and that examining his physical and mental wellbeing enabled her to find the root of the problem. "The boy had ignored regular sleeping patterns and eating habits," she said. "This disrupts the normal functioning of the body's kidneys."

In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are responsible for the physiological functions of the body and regarded as organs that store "yin and yang" as well as nutrients.

"The result of hair loss is an indicator of the body's wellbeing and that the balance of yin and yang is disrupted," said Dr Yeung.

Apart from a physical imbalance in the body, mental wellbeing is also another important factor that needs to be observed in order to explain hair loss, said Dr Yeung.

According to a report conducted by Svenson hair care centre, 70 per cent of hair loss problems were work and pressure related and nearly half of Asian men experienced hair loss in their lifetime. Up to 60 per cent encountered the problem before the age of 25.

A Form Five student at Lok Sin Tong Wong Chung Ming Secondary, Tommy Lee Chun-yin, played computer games every day after school. The 16-year-old said this helped relieve him of pressure from his rigid study schedule.

"People should find the correct way to relax and maintain a happy life," said Dr Yeung. "Many patients suffer from hair loss because they cannot find a healthy way to relax themselves."

Dr Yeung described the appearance of hair loss as an indicator of old age. "In the past, hair loss used to occur when people had to bear a lot of family responsibilities, but nowadays pressure from studying and working are the key factors that lead to an increase of hair loss among the youth," she said.

Tommy's mother, Ms Cheung Ngan-che, said her son sometimes work until midnight to finish his homework. She reckons many teenagers are put under stress due to the pressure for students to do well at school.

"Some of them have tutorials and revision lessons after school. In my generation we didn't spend much time on study preparation, but now students have to prepare a lot more for their exams," she said.

Dr Yeung said heavy workloads could generate emotional stress, which will inhibit the normal function of the liver to create a smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body.

 

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"If the liver suffers, there will be insufficient amounts of blood circulating to the head," she said. "If there isn't enough nutrition for hair follicles to promote growth, the result would be loss of hair.

"In the perspective of Chinese traditional medicine, hair is the extension of the blood in our bodies," she added.

Dr Yeung said the lifestyle and mental states of patients suffering from hair loss needs to be examined so that the correct adjustments can be made to the internal imbalance in their bodies.

"When their physical and mental state returns to normal, then the symptom of hair loss will be relieved," she said.

 

Reported by Tiffany Lee

Edited by Natashan Chan

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