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Ask a doctor: Is there a treatment that reverses balding?

Health & Science

Dr Winnie Njenga, a dermatologist at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital, answers some of the most frequently asked questions around skincare. Pick up skin protection tips, discover some of the common skin problems and learn what suspicious growths might mean.

After I turned 30, I developed acne. I have never had to deal with that before. What can I do? How does one deal with adult acne?

Adult acne is an interplay of factors, such as your skin type, inflammation and the hormonal milieu. Your dermatologist can assess your risk factors and advise on the best way forward. Remember treatment will vary from person to person. You also need to have your skincare and hair products assessed.

 I have skin tags; many of them. And I don’t like them. Is there anything I can do to slow down their development?

Many people develop skin tags. They can be removed by your dermatologist. I would recommend that you practice a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and regular exercise as obesity can make this worse.

 What are the most common skin problems you deal with?

A majority of both men and women suffer from sensitive dry skin issues. The younger patients mostly have acne-related problems. Usually, I will advise patients on the best skincare regime for their specific conditions and if needed give a prescription.

My father had male-pattern baldness. I am almost 35 and noticed that my hair is not growing back quite as thick anymore. Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

Male-pattern baldness can run in families. Since you cannot change your genetic makeup, see a dermatologist who can list out options for your treatment and together you can select a suitable choice. This treatment will need to be adhered to for the long term.

I just turned 34 and want to get onto a holistic self-care path. Do I need to be on supplements?

It is commendable for you to take good care of your body. I would recommend a healthy diet with adequate fruit, vegetables and healthy meats. These will supply your micronutrient needs. Regular supplementation is only recommended if you have a health condition that warrants it. You can discuss this with your doctor.

Collagen supplements or collagen topical creams; which ones do I go for?

It is important to know why collagen supplementation is necessary. Is it for a health condition or something you want to try? Generally speaking though, oral collagen supplements are more useful compared to topical creams.  Remember you can also get collagen from your diet. You should, therefore, be careful to moderate your intake.

I work in a high-stress job and I do have a good diet and take care of my skin. But I still have acne.

Stress is known to aggravate acne as it also affects your hormonal profile. The best way to manage stress-induced acne is to manage the stress itself. Ensure you give yourself time to rest, as well as exercise and if possible meditate.

 I have tried all lip balms, even medicated ones, to heal my perpetually dry lips. What do you advise?

There is a good chance that you have a dry skin condition and you probably need to improve your hydration habits. Have a dermatologist assess and advice on the best treatment for you.

I am on a hormonal contraceptive and I suspect that it is the cause of my suddenly problematic skin. Short of stopping the usage, what are some of the tips you could share that would help my skin?

The easiest way to tell whether your contraception is the culprit is to see your gynaecologist and have them change it. Meanwhile, all you can do is to get on treatment for the skin condition.

 As a dermatologist, what is your opinion on clean beauty?

Unfortunately, this a term that can be misconstrued to mean many different things. Clean generally implies naturally occurring compounds with perhaps no additional chemicals, such as preservatives. Remember most medicines are made from naturally occurring compounds, except they are in a pill form. Not all ‘natural’ things are good for you. And just because a product is labelled natural does not actually mean that it is good. However, avoiding unnecessary chemicals is also beneficial to your health.

 I am only 28 and already sporting some grey strands of hair. My dad and mum didn’t get theirs at such a young age. What could be the problem?

Early greying of hair can be influenced by your genetics, stress and even general body health. I would advise that you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy meats, and manage stress.

 Are eye creams necessary or are they just glorified moisturisers?

Eye creams are moisturisers that are rich and gentle to suit the skin around the eyes. Wrinkles around the eyes are a natural part of life. They can be managed by using appropriate skincare, and if necessary treatment which can be discussed with your dermatologist.

All the commercial sunscreens I have tried out don’t work out for me. I’ve been told by a friend that grapeseed oil or carrot oil is just as effective. Is that true?

Scientifically speaking, that is not true. Sunscreen should be rated for a sun protective factor (SPF), which is usually indicated as a number on the bottles of sunscreens. I encourage you to see a dermatologist who can assess what kind of products you have tried and recommend something for your skin type.

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