The Thyroid Disease Connection
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that rests in the front base of the neck. It secretes thyroid hormones that are used by every cell in the body. There’s a connection between hair loss in women and thyroid disease. Imbalances in thyroid hormone levels are a common reason for hair loss in women. Too much thyroid hormone and too little thyroid hormone may both trigger hair loss. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heart rate, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and anxiety. In addition to hair loss, hypothyroidism may be associated with weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, slow heart rate, and constipation. Luckily, thyroid hormone imbalances are easily detectable with blood tests. Treatment helps alleviate symptoms, including hair loss.
Can Hair Loss Be A Sign Of A More Serious Problem
Yes. Hyperandrogenism, a medical condition characterized by excessive production of male hormones called androgens, can cause hair loss in affected women. The most common cause of hyperandrogenism in women is functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, also known as polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition to hair loss, other signs include obesity, acne, and irregular menstruation, and it is one of the most common causes of infertility.
Many of these women have metabolic syndrome — a combination of five medical conditions including belly fat and high blood pressure that increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
Although hair loss stemming from hyperandrogenism can be treated with minoxidil, you need to seek care for the other conditions.
How Is Hair Loss In Women Treated What Medicines Or Supplements May Help
Treatment depends on the cause of your hair loss.
- In cases where the loss is due to stress or hormone changes like pregnancy, there might be no treatment needed. The hair loss will stop after a period of time.
- In cases of hair loss being due to hair styling practices, like tight braids or ponytails or certain chemicals, treatment means not doing the things that caused the damage.
- In cases due to nutritional deficiencies, you might be told to take supplements. For instance, you might be told to take a multivitamin and three to five milligrams of biotin daily.
- Minoxidil is approved for treating FPHL. The 2% or 5% solution can be purchased in stores. However, you have to follow directions exactly and use the product indefinitely. Dont use this product if youre pregnant, if you plan to get pregnant, or if youre breastfeeding.
- The HairMax Lasercomb® low light laser is approved by the US FDA to treat FPHL. Another FDA-approved laser product is the Theradome LH80 PRO® helmet and low light laser helmets and caps.
Other medications that have been studied, but not approved, for hair loss in women include:
- Spironolactone and other anti-androgens.
- Other light treatments.
It is important to note that premenopausal women should not take medications for hair loss treatment without using contraception. Many drugs, including minoxidil and finasteride, are not safe for pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant.
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Managing Major Hair Loss
There are many things you can do to disguise sudden hair loss in women that is severe. You can use a hat, scarf, or bandana to cover your head. If you have bald areas, consider getting a weave or concealing the bald area with a hairpiece. Wigs can be very natural looking. They fit so well you can even wear them while you are working out at the gym or swimming. If hair loss causes severe distress and it is affecting your self-esteem or ability to carry out daily activities, seek the help of a therapist.
Low Light Laser Therapy
LLLT treatment can be administered at home or in a hair salon thats certified for LLLT. This treatment can be done in the form of a comb or a funny looking hard hat contraption. Basically the low-level laser omits waves that are said to stimulate hair growth.
A 2014 research review found LLLT helped hair growth in mice as well as men and women in controlled clinical trials.
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Consider These Useful Supplements For Healthy Hair
- A multivitamin and mineral to guard against deficiencies .
- Soy isoflavones . If you have a medical history of a hormone dependent condition check with your doctor before taking them although evidence suggests they are beneficial in these cases, too.
- A probiotic will supply beneficial digestive bacteria which may help to increase conversion of soy isoflavones to a stronger oestrogenic version called equol.
- Flaxseed oil is one of the richest dietary sources of lignans.
- Some nutritionists may recommend l-lysine amino acid supplements.
What Questions Might Your Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose And Categorize Your Hair Loss
Your healthcare provider might ask about your habits:
- What kinds of hair products do you use?
- What kinds of hair styles do you wear?
- What types of food do you eat ?
- Do you have a habit of pulling your hair out ?
They might ask about your history:
- Has anyone in your immediate family experienced hair loss?
- Is there anything stressful going on in your life?
- What medications and supplements do you take every day?
- Has hair loss ever happened to you before?
- What foods are in your diet?
And, they might ask about your observations:
- How long have you been losing hair?
- Have you been shedding more?
- Have you noticed hair loss in places other than your scalp, like your eyebrows? Leg and arm hair?
- Does anything worsen your hair loss?
- Does anything improve your hair loss?
- Have you noticed hair loss occasionally or has it been going on continuously?
- Have you noticed if your hair growth has changed?
- Has your hair been breaking more often?
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What Women Can Do About Hair Loss
Lifestyle changes and certain treatments may help.
You look in the mirror one day and notice a widening part or a patch of scalp showing through your once-thick mane. Maybe you spot an alarming clump circling the shower drain.
Such moments are especially frightening for women, says Shani Francis, MD, director of the Hair Disorders Center of Excellence at NorthShore University Health System.
Some reasons for hair loss:
- Excess styling
- A thyroid imbalance
- Low iron and low vitamin D: Have your doctor check your levels supplement if necessary. Learn more about how vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss.
- Medication: Going on birth control, blood pressure medication, steroids, or antidepressants can all prompt hair to shed temporarily.
- Significant weight loss
- Hormone changes after pregnancy or during menopause
- A traumatic event, like an illness, surgery, or death in the family
By middle age, 40% of women show signs of pattern hair loss , a genetically-based condition in which hair follicles gradually shrink and become less active, prompting budding strands to become wispy and stubby, shed more, and grow less. Declining estrogen levels, due to menopause, may also play a role in hair loss.
Many other women go through telogen effluvium, a temporary shedding sparked by stress, illness, nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal changes. For this type of hair loss, in which hair tends to fall out in clumps, better nutrition, rest, and time may be all you need.
Tip : Pump Up The Volumizing Products
Try adding a boost of body to your locks with volumizing mousse or spray. Volumizing products are fabulous at taking your locks up a level. When applied close to the roots, volumizer coats hair strands, adding stiffness and causing strands to push away from one another. Voila! Instant, lush volume! These products are also made to hold your style all day long, so its a complete win-win situation. You can also slightly tease hair around thinning areas to give the illusion of fullness.
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Choose The Right Products
If you decide to color-treat your tresses, its best to opt for a stylist to color your hair. A professional can help determine the safest dye to use for your hair type, and can provide tips on shampoos, conditioners and other hair products made specifically for color-treated hair.
Its also wise to forego daily heat styling, such as with blow dryers, curling wands and flat irons. We all want to look our best, but cutting back on intense heat styling tools one or two days a week will help hair bounce back from the damage they inflict.
If you must use heat-styling products, apply a heat protectant to hair prior to use. A heat protectant provides a protective coating between heated styling products and hair, and adds moisture to protect against damage during heat styling.
Avoid hair products that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like parabens and phthalates commonly found in many hair products. Dr. Bergfeld adds, Having said that, the science does not substantiate that these cosmetic chemicals you at any risk since the natural environment and foods have a greater risk.
What Causes Hair Loss
There are many different types of hair loss with a variety of potential underlying causes. Several medical conditions are associated with hair loss in women. Common causes include thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Wondering how to stop hair loss in women? When the underlying cause of hair loss is diagnosed and treated, hair loss may stop, and hair may grow back. Stress, nutritional factors, and genetics may also play a role in hair loss. Severe physical stress such as going through childbirth, surgery, or suffering a serious illness may precipitate a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This is a condition in which stress forces large numbers of follicles to enter the resting phase, and after a few months, hair will fall out.
Sometimes doctors are not able to determine what is causing hair loss. Other potential causes of hair loss include radiation therapy, cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, medication side effects, and autoimmune disease. If you are experiencing new or increasing hair loss, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
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Why Does Hair Turn Grey
Your hair color is produced by cells at the base of each hair follicle. These cells make melanin pigments and feed these through to the hair root.
The pigment color you produce is genetically determined. Red melanin makes your natural hair color a gold, auburn, or red. Black melanin produces hair that is brown or black. Pale melanin, which is concentrated in the spongy core of the hair shaft, rather than the outer cortex, causes your natural color to be more honeyed or blonde.
Hair turns grey due to an age-related decrease in the activity of an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme produces melanin from an amino acid called tyrosine.
The age at which your hair loses color is genetically determined and a few lucky people may retain their hair shade throughout life.
If your hair is grey, then some pigment is still present within the hair. If your hair is totally devoid of pigment, it becomes transparent and reflects light to appear snow white.
What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause
During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.
During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.
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You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is another imbalance in male and female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, changes in your menstrual period, infertility, as well as hair thinning. Because male hormones are overrepresented in PCOS, women may also experience more hair on the face and body.
Treating PCOS can correct the hormone imbalance and help reverse some of these changes. Treatments include diet, exercise, and potentially birth control pills, as well as specific treatment to address infertility or diabetes risk.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
The most common cause of progressive hair loss in women, FPHL , affects about 30 million American women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
FPHL has a distinct appearance. Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp, usually beginning with a widening through the center hair part.
Wong explains it this way: Female pattern hair loss is characterized by miniaturization of the hair follicles, where the hair follicles become smaller and produce shorter, thinner, more brittle hairs, and can eventually stop producing any hair. The hair follicles not only miniaturize but also can become deleted with a decrease in total number of follicles.
Unlike men, women tend to keep their hairline, except for normal recession . The hair loss in women will rarely result in total baldness, as it can in men.
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Thinning Hair In Women: Why It Happens And What Helps
Many people think of hair loss as a male problem, but it also affects at least a third of women. But unlike men, women typically experience thinning hair without going bald, and there can be a number of different underlying causes for the problem.
Some are associated with inflammation in the body. Some are female-pattern hair loss, says Dr. Deborah Scott, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Hair Loss Clinic at Brigham and Womens Hospital. But the good news is that in many cases this hair loss can be stabilized with treatment, and it may be reversible. When its not, there are a number of new cosmetic approaches that can help.
Get A Hormone Boost To Reduce Hair Loss
Hair loss increases after menopause when estrogen levels fall. This also increases the relative influence of the small amount of testosterone hormone that is made in the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Testosterone is converted into a stronger hormone in hair follicles which increases male and female-pattern hair loss which is genetically determined.
If you are willing to take estrogen hormone replacement therapy, this will help to boost hair quality. Once again, this is something that you can discuss with your doctor.
An alternative approach is to consume more plant estrogens, especially isoflavones and lignans. Although these are between 500 and a thousand times less active than human estrogen, they can provide a useful hormone boost. Isoflavones are found in edamame beans, tofu, miso, and other soy products, sweet potato, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
As well as having an oestrogen-like action, lignans provide an additional benefit by inhibiting the enzyme , which converts testosterone to the stronger dihydrotestosterone in hair follicles. Research shows that increasing your intake of lignans are associated with a reduced rate of hair loss and hair regeneration.
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