Hair Loss & Thinning
Hair Loss and Thinning Hair in Women
Baldness and hair loss is something that is most often associated with men. In fact for a vast majority of men so-called male pattern baldness is an inevitable sign of aging. Men can be self-conscious and embarrassed by hair loss. However baldness and thinning hair is not a uniquely male problem. And as socially self-conscious as thinning hair can be for men it can be completely devastating for women. Some men do go to great lengths to treat or cover up problems with thinning hair, yet others can and have embraced their baldness. There are several men from Yul Brenner to Shaquile O’Neil who have made bald men sexy. Women have no such icon. Blonde, brunet or redhead, female sexuality has long been identified with flowing tresses and full radiant hair. A woman with thinning hair can’t help but feel like a social outcast. But take heart ladies, there are things that can be done to control, even reverse the effects of hair loss.
How does Hair Grow?
Hair is basically a protein called Keratin. This is the same protein that makes up our fingernails and the outer most layer of the skin. The hair we see on the tops of our head and that in the best of circumstances is thick, lush, and able to be styled, is the hair shaft. That part, the hair shaft, is actually dead tissue, and why it can be cut without feeling any pain. The “living” part of hair is at the base; a bulb like structure called the follicle. Throughout your life your hair grows and is shed continuously. Each of us looses about 100 strands of hair a day, which for the most part goes unnoticed, as they are replenished during the growth cycle. Normal aging and many other factors can interrupt this cycle of shedding and replenishing of hair, and the net result is hair loss.
It is natural to lose some hair as we age for both men and women. How much is largely due to hereditary factors. Men in particular are subject to the hormonal changes as they age that results in the hair loss typical of alopecia or baldness. But there is also female pattern baldness. Female pattern baldness usually starts to show up between the ages of 25 and 30. It usually starts where a woman may find her hair becoming noticeably thinner. This occurs as the as replacement hair grows in much finer than the hair that is lost. The typical pattern in female hair loss differs from men. Women will usually start to see thinning hair along where they part their hair. A receding hairline, typical in male pattern baldness is rare in women.
About 50% of menopausal and post-menopausal women will experience “female pattern baldness” and unfortunately that that hair loss is almost always as permanent as is age related hair loss in their male counterparts. However there are many other reasons for temporary hair loss in women, most, if not all can be reversed when the underlying cause is discovered and treated. Other reasons for hair loss or thinning hair in women can include:
Medications - It is well known that drugs used to fight cancer during chemotherapy can cause hair to fall out. But it is lesser known that some common prescription drugs can have hair loss as a side effect. Birth control pills, blood thinners, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, can all cause hair loss. Believe it or not so can high doses of some vitamins.
Diet – What you eat is a factor, not enough iron of too little protein can lead to loss of hair. Yo-yo dieting or radical shifts in diet can cause mental and physical stress, both of which can cause hair loss.
Illness – Any stressful situation can cause hair loss. Certain diseases can lead to hair follicle damage. The stress put on the body after major surgery can lead to hair loss, sometimes as much as three months after the surgery has been completed. High fevers, severe infections, or chronic illnesses can also damage follicles and result in hair loss. Many Auto-immune disorders have hair loss as a symptom.
Childbirth - Some women lose large amounts of hair within two to three months after childbirth, until hormones return to normal.
Thyroid Problems - An overactive or under-active thyroid can cause hair loss.
Skin Disorders – A surface skin condition on the scalp such as ringworm for example can cause small patches of scaling skin and some hair loss.
When hair loss is caused by any of the above circumstances; usually once the underlying stress or cause is removed, the hair growth cycle returns to normal.
What Can be Done?
The good news is that for woman like men there are many options available treat even “permanent” hair loss. Of course the most inexpensive and common method to deal with hair loss is to use wigs. Wigs today are extremely stylish and fashionable, many are made from human hair, and have been specifically made for cancer victims, and women suffering from other causes of permanent hair loss. Speak to your medical practitioner or hair care professional about wigs and extensions that may be available to help with your thinning hair.Wigs of course are useful, and can be almost imperceptible from your own hair, that is of course until they need to be removed – a moment of social awkwardness that can be very difficult for some women. So there are a few other more permanent options available.
Minoxidil – The former prescription medication, better known as Rogaine has been proven effective in returning hair with regular use. It is now available without a prescription.
Surgical intervention: Hair Transplants were once thought not to be as effective for women as they were for men. However the latest techniques using micrograft transplants, have been very successful in women
Thinning hair can be a very stressful situation for women, especially young women. But fortunately there are many medical and cosmetic treatments available that may not have you rivaling, Repunzel, but can make it much easier to go out and about again.