Whats Actually Causing Your Thinning Hair
The first thing to know about hair loss is that its actually a bit complex. Your hair grows in three stages, SELF explained previously. These include a growth phase from a root in the hair follicle, a transitional phase when the growing stops, and a resting phase, after which the hair falls out and the follicle takes a break before growing another hair.
Its totally normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology , which you might notice on your pillow in the morning, on your hairbrush, or in the shower. If you go a few days without showering, you might notice more than a single days worth of hair in the shower, which may be a little disconcerting, but is still totally normal.
Youre born with about 100,000 follicles on your scalp, and youll never gain or lose any, the AAD says. However, as you age, some follicles may stop growing hair and you may experience hair loss . When and how this happens is influenced by a bunch of factors, including our genetics and the natural hormonal changes we experience as we age, Shilpi Khetarpal, M.D., dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF.
Once you know what youre up against, there are some easy ways to help manage thinning hair at home or with the help of an expert. Here are the top tips we learned from dermatologists and hair stylists on how to protect your hair and restore some of its fullness and shine.
Is All Hair Loss Permanent
There are a few causes of temporary hair loss. As previously mentioned, a sudden shock or stressful event can trigger temporary hair loss as an emotional response. an underlying condition, sudden weight change or poor nutrition can all cause temporary hair loss as well. Finally, cancer or certain diseases can cause temporary hair loss, with many patients seeing their hair return once they recover. Again, if you believe you are experiencing hair loss due to an underlying condition or disease, consult with your doctor.
Hormonal Changes: The Most Common Reason For Thinning Hair In Older Women
As women age, the levels of estrogen they produce begin to decline. Estrogen does several things that promote thick hair. Therefore, the loss contributes to thinner hair in several ways as well. First, estrogen lengthens the growth stage of hair. This means more follicles of hair are growing at a given time when estrogen production is at an ideal level. It also stimulates the growth of new hair, after the old hair has shed.
Estrogen plays an important role in the overall appearance of hair. It is easy to see why an imbalance could cause hair to begin to look thinner over time. There is very little that can be done to increase the natural production of estrogen once menopause has started. However, phytoestrogens, bioidentical, or synthetic estrogens can be utilized to support estrogenic activity in the body.
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Thinning Hair In Women: Why It Happens And What Helps
- By Kelly Bilodeau, Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
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.
Male Or Female Pattern Hair Loss
Androgenetic alopecia is a frequent cause of hair loss. It affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States.
According to the Genetics Home Reference, the likelihood of experiencing androgenetic alopecia increases with age. Although it can affect teenagers, over half of males aged 50 and older have some degree of hair loss. It is most likely to affect females following menopause.
Often, people who have androgenetic alopecia have family members with the same condition.
In males, hair thinning tends to occur from the hairline to the back of the head. In females, it tends to affect the crown of the head.
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Vitamins For Hair Growth
If youre hoping to grow back healthy locks after experiencing hair loss due to a certain deficiency, vitamins can help. Parks recommends Ducray Anacaps Dietary Supplements and Shah suggests iron, vitamin D and zinc if youre deficient in them.
At the same time, vitamins arent a miracle cure for hair loss. Nutritional supplements can be very beneficial if you are losing your hair due to a nutritional deficiency, Kingsley said. However, if your hair loss is unrelated to diet, nutritional supplements will not remedy it.
The bottom line? Vitamins won’t hurt, but don’t rely on them to treat all types of hair loss.
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.
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Stress Can Be A Factor With Thinning Hair In Older Women
As women age their bodies begin to process nutrients less efficiently. Many vitamins and minerals are necessary for hair growth. Iron and Vitamin C are good examples of this.
Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss in several studies. As the body ages, it can become more difficult for it to obtain the iron it needs from foods. The deficiency can then lead to thinner hair. Interestingly, a Vitamin C deficiency can contribute to the iron deficiency. This is because, without enough Vitamin C, the absorption of iron from foods such as red meat becomes more difficult.
There are a great number of nutrients that play a part in thinning hair in older women. In addition to iron and Vitamin C, getting enough magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, niacin and zinc is important. Some deficiencies can be helped with a diet change or nutritional supplements. Nutrafol is a supplement that contains Vitamin C, Selenium and Zinc â among other things.
As we age our stress levels increase. Additionally, realizing that we are aging can cause additional stress. High levels of stress over a long period leads to increased cortisol production. This can have an negative impact on hair growth and lead to hair appearing thinner.
How Long Will It Take To Lose My Hair
Theres no real timeline for hair loss other than your risks of experiencing it go up as you age. But hair loss can begin after puberty. For most men, MPB really takes hold in their 20s and 30s. After that, its anyones guess how long it will take for you to lose your hair and, again, depends on genetics and a variety of other factors. The bottom line is that the rate of hair loss is different for every man.
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Consider Using A Caffeinated Shampoo
If you dont already use a caffeinated shampoo, consider switching to one. Caffeine applied directly to the scalp has two beneficial effects. It relaxes smooth muscle fibres surrounding the hair to improve blood flow. More importantly, it also inhibits the enzyme, 5–reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone within scalp hair follicles and which is associated with male and female pattern hair loss.
A growing body of evidence supports the effects of caffeinated shampoos in stimulating hair follicles, and Ive certainly noticed a dramatic improvement in hair thickness since starting to use one. Just two minutes contact with the scalp during shampooing allows the caffeine to penetrate into hair follicles, where it remains for up to 48 hours after washing.
Leave-on caffeine solutions are also available and have been shown to increase the cross-sectional area of scalp hairs by 10%.
Drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee does not have the same effect, as the caffeine must penetrate into the hair follicles itself to inhibit 5- -reductase.
Solution: Speak To A Doctor
It is worth consulting your doctor for guidance if you are struggling to identify the reason for hair thinning or if your hair loss is becoming substantial. That way you can not only discuss your general health and identify your stress and hormone levels, but also receive expert advice on whether something more serious is to blame.
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Tips To Hold Onto As Many Of Your Strands As Possible
- Be kind to your hair. No tugging when brushing or combing! Use a conditioning detangler and use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair to help prevent breakage or pulling.
- Wear a hat or cap in the sun to minimize damage from ultraviolet light.
- Heat and tight ponytails/hairstyles can hurt hair. Avoid heat styling with hot rollers, curling irons or permanents. Tight rubber bands, ponytails, headbands or braids can also break or weaken hair.
- Check with your doctor that your medications aren’t known to cause hair loss as a side effect.
- Don’t smoke. Studies have shown a correlation between smoking and baldness in men.
- Cool it. If you’re undergoing treatment with chemotherapy, check with your doctor about using a cooling cap. Scalp cooling, a technique used for decades in Europe, slows blood flow to your hair follicles by constricting blood vessels. This constriction may also limit the amount of chemotherapy drug that is able to reach your follicles.
A Surprising Way To Stop Hair Loss: The Best Vitamins To Take For Thinning Hair In Women And Men
As doctors, we often have patients coming in complaining about thinning hair or hair loss. What can I do to stop my hair from falling out? is a common question from both men and women. Many people are concerned that they are losing hair because of a medical condition. No matter, what the cause, no one wants to see their hair thinning. Upsetting right?
So what can cause hair loss?
It turns out that there are some medical problems that can cause hair loss in women and men. These could be thyroid problems or some autoimmune conditions. However, this is rare. Most of the time we test for these issues and blood work is normal. So what is causing thinning hair?
It depends. In men, there is a natural process of hair loss. Men tend to lose hair around the crown of their heads and forehead as a part of typical aging. Women can also have this male pattern hair loss when they have excess testosterone or other changes in hormone balance . There are certain prescription medications such as minoxidil that can be useful for this. However, they are both costly and have benefit only if you continue using them forever.
So, what else can cause hair loss? Actually, one of the most common causes for hair loss in women and in part for men, is vitamin deficiencies. It turns out that many of the people we see have vitamins deficiencies causing thinning hair or hair loss.
Get Your Personalized Vitamin For Hair Loss
So how should you take vitamins for hair loss?
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Change Your Hair Care Routine
Your hair needs are changing, so your hair care should, too. Look for hair care products that are targeted towards thinning hair, as these have gentler formulas that can also help boost fullness and infuse strands with much-needed nourishment.
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What Are The Cycles Of Hair Growth
Hair goes through three cycles:
- The anagen phase can last from two years to eight years. This phase generally refers to about 85% to 90% of the hair on your head.
- The catagen phase is the time that hair follicles shrink and takes about two to three weeks.
- The telogen phase takes about two to four months. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out.
Your shorter hairs like eyelashes, arm and leg hair and eyebrows have a short anagen phase about one month. Your scalp hair can last up to six years or even longer.
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Whats Next For Thinning Hair
Now that you know the signs and a few reasons for thinning hair, itâs time to take action. you have options for treating hair loss at every stage of the process. So whether youâve just started or have a noticeable bald spot now, there are hair loss solutions available to you. Consult with an expert like Dr. Feinberg at the hair restoration center of New Jersey & New York to learn more about your hair loss and what you can do to restore your hair.
How Will A Healthcare Provider Diagnose Hair Loss In Women What Tests Are Done
The tests performed to diagnose hair loss in women can be simple or complicated:
- Gently pulling on your hair to see how many hairs come out.
- Blood tests. These check for vitamin and mineral levels and hormone levels .
- Scalp examination under a microscope and trichoscopy.
- Scalp biopsy to remove and examine a very small piece of scalp skin.
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