Many expatriates who lose their hair after moving to the UAE blame it on the water, heat or onstant exposure to air conditioners.

However, there is no evidence to indicate that expatriates in the UAE encounter higher rates of hair loss compared to their home countries, experts said.

According to an expert, “specific factors” may play a role in contributing to hair fall when transitioning from their home country to a new one. Dr Hussein Abdelrazik, specialist dermatology and cosmetology, Burjeel Day Surgery Center, Al Reem Island, said: “The main reasons that expats, when moving from their home to another country, may perceive an increase in hair loss are the changes in climate, stress, or lifestyle factors.”

He emphasised the relationship between the epigenome, environmental changes, and hair loss is a complex and ongoing area of research.

“Changing from homemade food to predominantly processed/ready-to-cook meals changes the epigenome. Processed foods often contain high levels of sugar, unhealthy fats, and additives that can lead to changes in gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms.”

Abdelrazik explained the epigenome is a system of chemical compounds and proteins that can attach to DNA and regulate gene expression without changing the underlying DNA sequence.

“An unhealthy epigenome activates our genes for hair loss. Environmental factors such as diet, stress, and lifestyle choices can all influence the Epigenome,” added Abdelrazik.

Why women may lose more hair than men

Dr Naglaa Ramzy, specialist dermatologist, Prime Hospital, said women tend to lose more hair than men.

“Most of the expats think that after coming to the UAE they start losing their hair. (However, the main reasons are) … the stress of starting a new job, moving away from their family, being exposed to a different environment, and not eating healthy.”

Doctors emphasised hormonal changes play a significant role in hair loss, particularly in women.

Dr Mazza Ahmed, specialist dermatology, Saudi German Hospital, Ajman said: “These changes often occur due to pregnancy and lactation, use of contraceptive pills or menopause, and certain medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Possible solutions could be the use of drinking or filtered water in hair washing, or the use of multivitamin hair spray.”

Genetic hair loss more common in men

However, healthcare professionals also highlight genetic or patterned hair loss is more common in men when compared to women.

“Men typically experience male pattern baldness, characterized by a receding hairline and thinning at the crown of the head. Conversely, women may experience diffuse hair thinning all over the scalp or a widening part line,” added Abdelrazik.

Healthcare professionals said hair loss is a more serious condition that can have a number of underlying causes.

“It is very important to treat the cause if there are any vitamin deficiency patient has to take supplements, control any systemic disease, have healthy lifestyle with healthy food, exercising, avoiding stress, in addition to the application of hair serum to stimulate hair growth and improve scalp circulation. But the most important is to consult the dermatologist to find an effective solution in case the problem persists,” added Dr Ramzy.

Filters and hair supplements

Khaleej Times reached out to different expats to understand their concerns. Many endorse showerheads with the devices becoming a frequently seen fixture in the bathrooms of several residents.

Abu Dhabi resident Felizze Faye Navarro complained of visible hair fall after she moved to the UAE in 2013. She explained that her hair was once so voluminous that salons would even charge her additional money.

“Many years ago, when I was in college, I had lush and heavy tresses. I was always charged extra because my hair was extremely thick. From that stage, I reached a point where I started losing hair so much that I was genuinely concerned.”

Similarly, an Indian expat in Dubai, Bhavya Rao, said that after relocating to the UAE six years ago, she discovered the need to sweep her apartment floor after brushing her hair every morning.

“I seemed to leave behind many loose strands of hair. Like many, I thought it was due to the desalinated water in the region. Therefore, I purchased and installed an ‘anti-hair loss’ filter in my bathroom. These filters claim to eliminate chlorine and other impurities from the water supply.

“After some time, I consulted a doctor back home over the phone and she suggested that I start consuming Iron-rich foods like nuts and seeds, spinach, and broccoli. All efforts put together, it helped reduce hair fall,” said the 38-year-old.

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