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December 2016

The Ancient Remedies of Alopecia

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of General Medicine, National University Hospital, Singapore
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(12):1326. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0092

A healthy head of hair has always been symbolic of youth, beauty, and vitality. Some cultures even attribute magical value to hair—from which “spells” to curse or to bless may be concocted.

There are many superstitions surrounding hair and hair loss. The commonest in North America seems to concern disposal of hair combings; if a bird acquires the combings, the owner will die, go mad, or lose all his or her hair.

To lose one’s hair in a male pattern or female pattern can be extremely distressing. Modern therapy involves the use of topical minoxidil (2% and 5%) and oral finasteride. It is interesting to discover the unusual and even revolting remedies of the past.

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