Friday, August 29, 2014

Strategies to Reduce Hair Pulling

Trichotillomania (also called compulsive hair pulling), is a disorder that results in repetitive hair pulling. Hair is usually pulled from the scalp, but it may be pulled from any area of the body; eyelashes and eyebrows are commonly pulled.

Below are some tips to help reduce hair pulling:

  • Monitoring and recording all hair-pulling to increase awareness of the behavior and interrupt the process
  • Strong smelling perfume on hands as a cue to increase awareness of when hands are near face
  • Jangly bracelet as an auditory cue to increase awareness of location of hands
  • Keeping hair short to reduce the availability of hair to pull
  • Wearing a hat, wig, or head scarf as a barrier to prevent pulling
  • Wearing gloves as a physical barrier to fingers and to make pulling more difficult
  • Finger toys to keep hands occupied
  • Hand exercise aids to keep hands occupied and tired
  • Crafts such as beading or knitting to keep hands occupied
  • Stroking a pet to keep hands occupied
  • Fist clenching to resist the urge to pull
  • Signs posted in places where pulling is most likely to occur as a visual reminder (i.e. a computer screen saver with a "no pulling" message)
If you or someone you love is suffering from trich and needs help coping with hair loss, contact our trich hair duplication specialist Ricky Knowles at 713-623-4247.  Ricky and the team at Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness will work with you in a supportive and discreet environment to help you stop pulling.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chemotherapy and Your Nails

Just as chemotherapy affects your hair because of the rapidly dividing hair follicle cells, it also affects your nails.

You may see a line in the nail related to the cycle of chemotherapy. This line is not permanent and grows out with the nail, usually in about six months. There may even be multiple lines and indentations reflecting the different cycles of chemotherapy.

Your nails may become pigmented or discolored. They may become more brittle, so they won't grow as long as they used to and may break more easily.

The area around the nail bed may become dry, and your cuticles may fray. Don't rip or peel off the loose cuticle. Cut it carefully with a CLEAN pair of nail scissors.

The nail may actually lift off the nail bed. While this, too, is reversible, you need to be very careful, for two reasons. First, the nail is more vulnerable and may fall off. Second, because the nail is not tightly bound to the nail bed, it can become a site for bacteria to enter. So be sure to practice excellent hygiene to avoid infection.

Tips for better nail care:

  • Clip your nails short. Imperfections show up less in short nails.
  • Don't cut your cuticles. Use cuticle remover cream or gels and push your nails back gently.
  • Don't bite your nails or cuticles, particularly on the hand on the same side as your affected breast. If you have a hard time stopping, consider wearing thin white cotton gloves around the house to help you break this habit.
  • Massage cuticle cream into the cuticle area daily to prevent dryness, splitting, and hangnails.
  • Wear gloves while doing chores, such as washing dishes. Excessive exposure to water can lead to fungal infections of the nail bed.
  • Wear nail polish to help keep nails strong and protected from the environment (and looking nice, too). If your nails are very dry or falling off, you might want to consider a nail moisturizer instead of polish.
  • Dry nails can become weaker or more brittle during chemotherapy treatment. To take off polish, use non-acetone-based remover, which is less drying than acetone.
  • Don't use acrylics or other nail wraps. Fake nails can trap bacteria that may cause infection.
  • If you have a professional manicure, bring your own instruments, regardless of how the salon cleans theirs.
  • Ask a professional manicurist for more information on daily home care to keep your nails healthy and strong.
  • Alert your doctor to any signs of inflammation or infection.

Friday, August 22, 2014

12 Tips to Reduce Your Child's Stress and Anxiety

With school starting up again, many parents notice extra stress and pressure on their kids.  We've put together some tips to help reduce your child's stress and anxiety to help you get through the school year:

1) Encourage your child to face his/her fears, not run away from them.

2) Tell your child that it is okay to be imperfect.

3) Focus on the positives.

4) Schedule relaxing activities.

5) Model approach behavior, self-care, and positive thinking.

6) Reward your child's brave behaviors.

7) Encourage good sleep routine.

8) Encourage your child to express his/her anxiety.

9) Help your child to problem solve.

10) Stay calm.

11) Practice relaxation exercises with your child.

12) Never give up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Aspirin may cut risk of breast cancer recurrence

By Lara Salahi

Regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen may lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence in some overweight women, a new study found.

Researchers at the University of Texas took blood from 440 women who were diagnosed with invasive, estrogen receptor alpha-positive breast cancer. Nearly 26 percent of the women were overweight and 58 percent were obese. They re-created cancer cells, fat cells, and immune cells in the lab and injected the blood into these cells. Blood samples that were taken from overweight or obese women caused the cancer cells to grow faster than blood taken from women who were not overweight. Blood from the obese patients contained more fatty acids, which caused inflammation and promoted tumor growth, the study found.

The researchers then looked at the patients’ medical records and divided them between those who regularly took anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen — known as NSAIDs — and those who did not. Women with a body mass index greater than 30 who took NSAIDs reduced their rate of recurrence by 50 percent and were disease-free for more than two years longer than women who didn’t take the pills.

The findings suggest that taking NSAIDs could help reduce inflammation in tumor cells, especially among overweight or obese breast patients, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs may lower the risk for breast cancer recurrence among some women.

CAUTIONS: The study cannot determine which overweight women will benefit from taking NSAIDs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

I am a woman over 50 and have been a vegetarian for over 20 years.  I am experiencing hair thinning and other than not eating meat, have a very healthy diet and take multi-vitamins and calcium with vitamin D daily. What could be causing my hair loss?

Anytime you avoid meat, you must make up that source of iron in your diet.  Iron is essential for red blood cell production and iron deficiency is a factor in thinning hair.

A simple iron blood test can be done without a doctors prescription and will give you a good benchmark to see if that is a factor in your hair loss.

Hair thinning can also be from genetics, thyroid disorders, stress, major illness, prescriptions or other infections.  A trip to your doctor for a check up will help you get to the root of the problem.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Study Shows Third Gene as Indicator for Breast Cancer

As appeared in the New York Times
Mutations in a gene called PALB2 raise the risk of breast cancer in women by almost as much as mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, the infamous genes implicated in most inherited cases of the disease, a team of researchers reported Wednesday.

Previous data had indicated that mutations in PALB2 were linked to breast cancer, and many genetic tests already screen for them. But it had not been clear to what extent these mutations raised a carrier’s odds of developing the disease.

Dr. Marc Tischkowitz, an associate professor of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues studied 362 members of 154 families with PALB2 mutations. None had BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, but all had at least one family member with breast cancer and a mutation in PALB2. There were 311 women with PALB2 mutations, of whom 229 had breast cancer, and 51 men with the mutation, of whom seven had the disease.

The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Over all, the researchers found, a PALB2 mutation carrier had a 35 percent chance of developing cancer by age 70. By comparison, women with BRCA1 mutations have a 50 percent to 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer by that age, and those with BRCA2 have a 40 percent to 60 percent chance.

The lifetime risk for breast cancer in the general population is about 12 percent.

The breast cancer risk for women younger than 40 with PALB2 mutation was eight to nine times as high as that of the general population. The risk was six to eight times as high among women 40 to 60 with these mutations, and five times as high among women older than 60.

The scientists were not able to explain why younger women with the mutations were at higher risk. And there were too few men, Dr. Tischkowitz said, to make a judgment about their risk.

The data also indicated that women with the PALB2 mutations were slightly more likely to have “triple negative” breast cancer — a form resistant to hormone treatment, more aggressive, and more likely to recur than other subtypes.

Dr. Anees B. Chagpar, the director of the breast center at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who was not involved in the work, said she was impressed with the study but cautioned that other factors must be considered in evaluating a woman’s risk.

“This has to be tailored to the patients, who may have other mutations and varying family risk,” she said. “With no family history, the increase they found is 35 percent. If you have two or more family members with cancer, they found a risk of 58 percent.”

The study used data from 14 sites in eight countries but found no significant geographic variations in its prevalence. The researchers write that larger studies are needed to detect such differences, as well as to assess the role of lifestyle and hormone use on breast cancer risk in PALB2 mutation carriers. Breast cancer risk depends not just on genes, but how they interact with the environment.

Official guidelines do not recommend screening for breast cancer genes in most women, only for those with a family history of the disease. Dr. Tischkowitz said that such women should consider testing for PALB2 mutations if they are negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

Dr. Chagpar said: “As the testing becomes more common, we’ll hopefully end up with studies with thousands of patients in them. We’re going to start getting answers to hard questions.”