Hair Loss In Black Women: Tips From An Expert
Almost half of black women experience some form of hair loss. However, few doctors are familiar with black hairstyling practices, leaving many women to sort through unhelpful or even harmful advice on their own.
Dermatologist Crystal Aguh, one of just a small group of dermatologists across the country specializing in hair loss, offers these tips to help women protect their hair and recognize common warning signs of hair loss.
Causes And Risk Factors For Thinning Hair
As your hair continues to thin, you probably want to ask, or even scream, Why is my hair falling out?! Its a very frustrating and often bewildering occurrence when the hair thins. According to Mayo Clinic, the exact cause of abnormal hair loss is not completely clear, but typically its related to one or more of the following:
- Physical or emotional shock
- Excessive hair styling and/or hair treatments
The No. 1 reason why both men and women experience excessive hair thinning and hair loss is hereditary. For men, its a more well-known phenomenon called male-pattern baldness, but women can also exhibit female-pattern baldness. Both of these predictable, gradual hair loss patterns are linked with a family history of hair loss. For men, it can start as early as puberty. In addition to thinning hair, men may also notice their hair becoming shorter, softer and finer.
2. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormone imbalances and changes can contribute to thinning hair. Some hormone changes are temporary, like with pregnancy or menopause, and hair thinning or loss resulting from these temporary changes should be temporary as well. However, if you have an ongoing imbalance of hormones, you may have a thyroid problem that needs to be corrected.
3. Thyroid Problems and Other Medical Conditions
Many different types of medicines may contribute to hair thinning, including some of the following types of medications:
- Acne medications
- Thyroid medications
Why Hair Falls Out
Hair grows and eventually falls out as part of its normal cycle. It can build up on hair brushes, pillows, or shower drains.
Most people will not notice the natural hair loss that occurs daily. Hair thickness and the hairline usually remain the same.
People are more likely to notice excessive hair loss. This is a good time to take action as it may be due to an underlying condition. Symptoms of excessive hair loss include:
- sudden loss of hair
- noticeable thinning
There are several possible reasons for excessive hair loss.
One of the most common causes is due to genetics. According to a 2019 review, pattern baldness affects up to 50% of men and women.
Commercial products could help to slow and treat this type of balding. One example of these products is Rogaine.
Pattern baldness occurs slowly with aging. Some more immediate causes of hair loss include:
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Prescription Medications And Treatments
Here are some medications for hair thinning and loss that your doctor may be able to prescribe:
- Finasteride : This is an oral medication that helps reduce levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone that can cause hair loss.
- Corticosteroids: These are oral or injected medications that can reduce inflammation that may lead to hair loss.
- Laser therapy: Your doctor or a dermatologist may be able to treat hair follicles with laser technology that sends light particles called photons into your follicles to help them grow. Talk to your doctor first to see if this will help you.
Why Is My Hair Thinning
About 95% of thinning hair is caused by male pattern hair loss , also known as androgenetic alopecia. Male pattern hair loss is caused by DHT , a type of sex hormone known as an androgen. Androgens contribute to typical male characteristics, such as body hair and a deeper voice. DHT is believed to cause hair follicles to miniaturize, getting smaller and smaller until they stop producing hair at all.
Less common reasons for thinning hair include:
- Breakage of the hair shaft. Damage to hair from dyeing or styling can cause the hair shaft to break off. This isnt the same as male pattern hair loss.
- Alopecia areata. This autoimmune condition can cause hair loss in patches throughout the body. In extreme cases, all body hair might be lost. It is not the same as male pattern baldness.
- Stress or an emotional shock. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people experience a general thinning of hair several months after a physical or emotional shock. This type of hair loss is temporary.
- Medications or supplements. Hair loss can also be a side effect of certain drugs, such as those used for cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis, and depression.
If youre unsure about whats causing your thinning hair, consult a dermatologist, who can evaluate whats going and recommend treatment if necessary.
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Conventional Treatment For Thinning Hair
Conventional treatments for thinning hair include medications and surgery.
When hair is caused by an underlying disease, conventional medicine likely includes drugs like prednisone to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Common side effects of prednisone include confusion, headache, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, thinning skin, acne, sleep problems and weight gain.
There are also two drugs on the market today that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat pattern baldness or thinning. The first one is minoxidil, commonly known commercially as Rogaine, and it can be used by both men and women. You may experience hair regrowth or a decreased rate of hair loss, but the growth is not permanent and will stop if you stop using it. Some common side effects may include severe scalp irritation, undesirable growth of facial hair, chest pain, rapid heart rate and more.
Another conventional option in pill form is called finasteride. Again, you need to keep taking it to retain benefits. Additionally, women who are or may be pregnant need to avoid touching crushed or broken tablets. Side effects may include impotence, loss of interest in sex, trouble having an orgasm, abnormal ejaculation, swelling in your hands or feet, feeling faint,headache, runny nose, and skin rash.
Precautions Regarding Natural Treatments for Thinning Hair
Youre Going Bald Because Youre Stressed
Excessive stress does lead to excessive hair fall, but they usually grow back on their own once the stress is under control. It can take 69 months to completely reverse this temporary hair loss.
What happens is that stress releases a hormone called cortisol in the body, which inhibits hair follicle activity and triggers excessive hair shedding.
Meanwhile, hair loss to the extent that you start going bald is more permanent in nature and is a sign of a medical condition called alopecia. Stress can aggravate alopecia but does not cause this kind of irreversible hair loss.
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Apply A Shea Butter Hair Mask
Shea butter is full of fatty acids that not only lubricate the hair and scalp but also form a thick protective layer over them to block out external irritants. This hydrating ingredient permeates easily into the scalp and hair cuticle to provide deep conditioning and nourishment.
Shea butter is especially good for repairing dry, damaged hair that is prone to breakage or falling out.
How to use:
The Future Of Thinning Hair
Hair-loss science marches on somewhat slowly, considering that todays most effective treatments, finasteride, and minoxidil, were approved in the late 90s and scientists have pointed up a new class of drugs that might be effective against male pattern hair loss in the future.
In 2019 research conducted at Columbia University, scientists found that a type of drug known as a JAK inhibitor might also inhibit and reverse hair loss . JAK inhibitors are usually used to soothe rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition. In this trial, researchers gave it to 22 men and women with androgenic alopecia, and 73% of them saw increased hair growth. The theory here is that hair follicles may miniaturize and die because of inflammation, and JAK inhibitors might quell that inflammation, pushing the follicle from resting phase back into the active anagen phase.
Whether these drugs will make hair loss a thing of the past remains to be seen. The good news is that you can likely make it a distant memory today, with one or a combination of current effective treatments.
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Natural Remedies For Hair Loss And Thinning
Hair loss can affect your self-esteem, appearance, and confidence. You may feel powerless over your own body, but the truth is thereâs a lot you can do to slow or even reverse your hair loss.
The right natural remedies for hair loss may depend on the actual reason why your hair is thinning, so itâs important to talk to a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
How Do You Prevent The Hair From Thinning
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make in order to help your hair feel thicker on top.
Here are some of the most effective tips:
Use conditioner regularly: Conditioner contains ingredients such as oils and proteins that can strengthen your hair, making it appear fuller and thicker.
Wash less frequently: Washing your hair too often can strip it of natural oils, making it appear dry and brittle. Try to wash your hair every 2-3 days instead of daily.
Avoid heat styling: Heat styling tools such as curling irons and straighteners can damage your hair, making it more likely to break and appear thinner. If you do use heat styling tools, make sure to use a heat protectant spray beforehand.
Try a volumizing shampoo: Volumizing shampoos contain ingredients that can help to add volume and body to your hair. This can make it appear thicker on top.
Use a scalp massager: Scalp massages help to increase blood circulation in the scalp, which may help to promote hair growth and prevent thinning.
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How Can You Prevent Thinning Hair
As there are so many reasons for hair loss, it can be difficult to prevent it from happening, and the reasons are different for men and women.
However, making sure you are looking after your hair and body can play a part.
Maintaining a healthy diet will keep your body in optimum condition, and that includes drinking plenty of water and steering clear of smoking and high alcohol consumption.
You can also think about how you treat your hair, by not subjecting it to high heat and harsh products.
Why Is My Hair Suddenly Thinning
Suddenly thinning hair could be caused by a variety of reasons, such as a period of extreme stress, pregnancy, discontinuing birth control pill use, hormonal changes, a high fever, or pulling at your hair.
Sudden hair thinning thats persistent or hair falling out in clumps could be the sign of an underlying medical condition. Talk with your doctor if this occurs.
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What Shampoo Should I Use For Thinning Hair
Because thinning hair can happen for a number of different reasons, you might have to go through a trial-and-error period to find the shampoo that works best for you.
Some shampoos are aimed at reducing hair loss, while others aim to thicken existing hair.
Prescription-strength shampoo for thinning hair is also an option that you can speak with your doctor about.
My Hair Is Thinning Will It Grow Back
Losing hair is a natural process that happens to everyone, every day. We all lose an average of 80 hair strands a day, but our hair is continually growing in cycles to replenish itself. However, if you have been noticing an unusual amount of hair loss, you might be worried you are going bald.
Many men will notice their hair thinning when they are still in their 20s or 30s. Some of the most common signs of balding include a receding hairline, more hair appearing in the sink and shower, and a sudden change in how your hair reacts to brushing.
Don’t panic. Hair thinning and baldness are two different things, and both have multiple treatment options.
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What Causes Hair To Feel Thinner On Top
There are a few different factors that can cause hair to feel thinner on top.
Genetics: One of the most common causes of hair thinning is genetics. If your parents or grandparents had thinning hair, you may be more likely to experience it yourself.
Hormones: Hormonal changes can also cause hair to feel thinner on top. For example, changes in testosterone levels can lead to hair loss.
Age: As we age, our hair tends to become thinner and weaker. This is due to the natural ageing process as well as factors such as sun damage and pollution.
Despite these factors, it is possible for anyone to help their hair appear thicker on top through lifestyle changes.
Treatment For Hair Loss
Most hair loss does not need treatment and is either:
- temporary and it’ll grow back
- a normal part of getting older
Hair loss caused by a medical condition usually stops or grows back once you’ve recovered.
There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments are not available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.
No treatment is 100% effective.
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Treatment For Underlying Conditions
Treating underlying medical conditions may also help answer a lot of your questions surrounding hair loss. Conditions like hypothyroidism are known to play a huge role in hair loss. This can also be said for certain drugs, hormonal imbalances, and even stress. Properly managing these medical conditions may slow hair loss, or even reverse it entirely.