DEAR DR. GOTT: Someone told me that prenatal vitamins are beneficial for women with hair loss. I found it odd, but maybe there's something in the ingredients that would promote hair growth. Have you, or perhaps your readers, heard of this?
DEAR READER: While no formal studies have been conducted, there are reports of pregnant women who have taken prenatal vitamins and have noticed an increase in hair thickness and growth.
Prenatal vitamins differ from regular multivitamins in that they contain elevated amounts of calcium, iron and folic acid. An increase in calcium is required because a woman needs stronger bones to be able to carry the additional weight of a baby to full-term. Additional iron is necessary because it helps the body make new blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Folic acid has been proven to prevent spina bifida, a neural-tube defect.
Folic acid is one of the B-complex vitamins available in many hair-growth formulas on the market today. It is reported to cause hair to grow faster and the strands to become thicker. According to several hair-loss experts and dermatologists, there are various ways to treat hair loss. Rogaine is an excellent choice, but if you choose to go a more natural route, they recommend that blood tests be done to rule out anemia, vitamin B-12 deficiency and copper deficiency. Biotin, B vitamins, iron and omega-3 fatty acids (such as omega-3 oil) are all necessary for proper hair, skin and nail health. Saw palmetto has shown promise in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is caused by the some of the same hormones that cause hair loss.
If you try a vitamin regimen, use a multivitamin, since you are not pregnant. If you want to read more about natural hair-loss treatments, go to www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/features/treating-hair-loss-naturally?page=1. Let me know how you make out.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Fads: Vitamins and Minerals."
DEAR DR. GOTT: I am wondering if you know anything about erythromelalgia and, if so, have you heard of any treatment or medication that is successful in treating it? I would be grateful for any information you might have on this subject.
DEAR READER: Erythromelalgia is a term for dilation of the small arteries of the hands, arms, feet or legs. The lower extremities are more commonly involved than the upper. Symptoms can come and go and vary from person to person, but they are rarely constant. The cause is unknown. The associated pain has been known to last between a few minutes and several hours.
Since heat triggers the condition, avoid warm temperatures and remain out of the sun. Some relief can be found with rest and by immersing the extremity in ice water. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and anticonvulsants have been used with some success in treating this condition.
This is a relatively uncommon disorder that can be difficult to treat. Your primary care physician and/or specialist might be able to refer you to a cutting-edge hospital for up-to-date guidelines.