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What Causes Hair Loss In Women Over 40

Pcos Can Be A Trigger

Coping and batttling hair loss for women

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in women in which the body manufactures more androgens, or male hormones, than it normally should. It is a potential cause of hormonal hair loss in women. Women who suffer from this condition may grow facial hair and extra body hair. One of the other symptoms of this condition is thinning of hair on the head. Women affected with PCOS may also experience weight gain, acne, menstrual irregularities, ovulation problems, depression, and infertility. Hair thinning may be the only outward sign that a woman is suffering from this condition.

Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Thinning Hair

If you feel self-conscious about thinning hair, there are options beyond treatments and procedures that may make hair loss less noticeable, says Bruce.

  • Wear a wig, extension, or hairpiece. Some women find this to be a suitable option.
  • Style your hair differently. This can make a widening part less noticeable.
  • Try hair powders. These contain tiny fibers you sprinkle the powder in your hair and the fibers cling to the hair shaft, giving the appearance of fuller hair and hiding where the scalp is visible.
  • Consult a hair stylist. Some stylists specialize in thinning hair.

What Is The Prognosis/outlook For Women With Hair Loss

Your diagnosis determines the prognosis:

  • Anagen and telogen shedding may stop with time.
  • Treat any diseases associated with hair loss.
  • Disguise or cover your hair loss using a wig or hat.
  • Early treatment of alopecia may reduce the speed of thinning and may promote regrowth.

While hair loss is not itself dangerous, women with hair loss tend to be very upset by the changes to their appearance. These negative feelings can affect self-esteem and social lives. Recent studies suggest that FPHL can be associated with conditions that include metabolic syndrome, endocrine disorders and diabetes.

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What Women Can Do To Stop Hair Loss

Q: I’m in my early 40s and I’ve noticed sudden hair loss. I’m devastated. Why is this happening and what can I do?

A: Women don’t expect to lose their hair , so when it happens its extraordinarily traumatic.

We normally have, on average, 100,000 hairs on our scalp. And as evinced by our changing hair lengths, roots and visits to our hairdressers, those hairs grow in fact, 90 percent of our hair is actively growing at any given time. Hair is the second fastest growing tissue in our body after bone marrow. To keep its place on your head, your hair needs the right conditions. You may find that you’re unexpectedly losing hair if you impose restrictions on hair growth or if your genes are such that continued hair growth is not in your destiny.

There’s a simple test you can do to help determine whether you are losing hair, its just thinning or you are damaging it by abusive hair products or pulling it too tight . Pull on several strands of your hair do they come out easily at the root? If so, it suggests that the hairs are indeed shedding and have gone into what we call an excess telogen phase.

Then there’s the hair loss effect of taking certain medications, rather than stopping them. There is a long list of drugs associated with hair loss, but here are the most common ones :

  • Heparin, interferon, Accutane , Altace, certain anticonvulsant drugs such as Klonopin and valproic acid

Drugs that less commonly lead to hair loss include:

What Medications Can Cause Hair Loss

hair loss causes in women over 40

Medications prescribed to manage symptoms of menopause do not typically cause hair loss, and may in fact help to prevent hair loss. However, medications that treat other conditions that are common in women over the age of 40 can contribute to hair loss.

Types of drugs that can cause hair loss include:

  • Medications used to treat hyperthyroidism
  • Antidepressants
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases

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There Are Things You Can Do To Prevent Hair Loss

If you notice your hair is thinning and it bothers you, there are some easy ways to make it appear fuller and simultaneously help prevent more hair loss or breakage. For instance, as SELF explained previously, its important to:

Wash as often as you need tobut no more. Both under- and overwashing can affect the volume and feel of your hair. Not washing enough causes a buildup of product and oil that can weight your hair down. But washing too frequently can strip the hair of its natural oils, making it more dry and prone to breakage. Experts recommend sticking to washing about two or three times per week and adjusting as needed for your particular situation.

Always use conditioner after shampooing. Conditioner makes your hair shinier and helps reduce static electricity, both of which helps thinning hair look fuller and glossier. But remember: A little goes a long way, and too much will weigh hair down.

Try leave-on products. Leave-in conditioners and detanglers help keep your hair moisturized throughout the day and protect against the effects of heat styling that otherwise can cause thinning and breakage.

Use hair masks for deep conditioning. If your hair tends to be dry and brittle, an occasional deep-conditioning mask may be just what it needs to regain some life and strength. These can also help hair look shinier.

Be Mindful Of Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are a form of contraception that works by suppressing ovulation and/or making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant into the lining of the uterus. Hormonal hair loss in women may occur when women start or stop taking certain kinds of contraceptives. The hormones that make birth control pills effective may also cause hair thinning in women who use them. You are more likely to experience this side effect from birth control pills if you have a family history of hair loss. Stopping the pill is also a cause of hair loss in women. Hormones are not the only medication that may be associated with hair loss. Blood thinners and blood pressure medications may do it, too. So can drugs used to treat depression, heart disease, and arthritis.

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When To Seek Help

This fact sheet has been prepared by Womens Health Concern and reviewed by the medical advisory council of the British Menopause Society. It is for your information and advice and should be used in consultation with your own medical practitioner.

You should consult your doctor if:

  • You are losing hair in an unusual pattern.
  • You are losing hair rapidly or at an early age .
  • You have any pain or itching with the hair loss.
  • The skin on your scalp under the involved area is red, scaly, or otherwise abnormal.
  • You have acne, facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle.
  • You have additional symptoms which concern you.

Why Does It Happen

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FPHL is very common and increases with age and varies across ethnic groups. Although it can happen at any age, the condition occurs most commonly following the menopause. This does not mean that hormones alone are to blame, although oestrogen may have a protective role, helping to keep hair in the growing phase. Age itself is a factor and whilst women can take care of their hair cosmetically, it is one aspect of the ageing process we cannot always control. Genetics are important too and you may notice a family link with both male and female hair loss. Occasionally times of acute stress on the body will influence hair growth, eg illness, emotional stresses and crash dieting. Some medications may have an influence too.

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A Dermatologists Diagnosis Is Best Before Treating Hair Loss

If you think you have FPHL, its important to see a dermatologist for a diagnosis. Women develop hair loss for many reasons. Other common causes of hair loss in women can look a lot like FPHL. Each of these causes requires different treatment. Without the right treatment, hair loss often continues.

You can find a dermatologist in your area by going to Find a Dermatologist.

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • What is the cause of my hair loss?
  • How many strands of hair am I losing per day?
  • What type of hair loss do I have?
  • Will my hair loss be permanent?
  • Whats the best treatment for me?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hair loss may cause you distress whether it happens because of genetics, a disease, or even stress. Know that there are some treatments you can try, and expert dermatologists are there to help you. Your hair loss may be able to be reversed. See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice something wrong because the sooner you start treatment, the better.

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Intense Emotional Or Physical Stress

When you’re experiencing something stressful or traumaticnot your average day-to-day stress, but something big and life-altering like a divorce, a death in the family, a significant job change, or a big moveyou may experience a temporary halt in hair growth as your body puts its resources toward getting you through said big event.

“Hairs dont all grow at the same rate,” Dr. Schlosser explains. “Some are growing, some are resting, and some are actively being shed. When you have these conditions, your body halts hair growth, and then things get restarted and all these hairs that have been halted start to get pushed out at the same time.” The same thing can happen with physical stress and trauma, like having a big operation, being hospitalized, or even losing a significant amount of weight very quickly.

Usually this type of hair shedding is temporary. But if it bothers you, check in with a dermatologist to learn more about styling changes and products you can use to make your hair look and feel fuller.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Thinning Hair

hair loss causes in women over 40

There are many potential causes for thinning hair, but genetics is usually the main culprit. This hereditary condition is called androgenetic alopecia and it shortens the time that the hair spends actively growing and it causes your hair follicles to shrink due to genetics, hormones, and age. Women with hereditary hair loss experience a general thinning of the hair, with the most extensive hair loss occurring on the top of the head and along the part.

On the flipside, temporary hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, happens when stress, diet, a hormonal imbalance, or a traumatic event causes hair shedding and a temporary thinning of hair across the whole scalp. While the amount of time varies, once the imbalance has been corrected, the hair will return to its previous thickness.

There is also a third kind of hair loss that is less common called alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that is recognized by well-defined patches of hair loss, which may happen rapidly and can lead to complete hair loss.

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Other Types Of Hair Loss In Women

In addition to androgenetic alopecia, there are numerous other types of hair loss that may affect you throughout life. Some of these are related to the aging process, while others may be caused by medical conditions, injuries to your scalp and certain types of medication.

Other forms of hair loss include:

Many of these forms of hair loss arent directly caused by aging. However, some factors related to the aging process, such as an elevated risk of certain medical conditions, may increase your risk of developing one of these forms of hair loss as you get older.

Menopause And Hormone Imbalances

Women may experience hair loss during menopause due to reduced production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These changes also lead to symptoms like menstrual cycle irregularity, dry skin, night sweats, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. This added stress on the body may also worsen hair loss.

Some women may even notice thinning and loss after going off hormonal birth control pills. Why? Again, hormonal changes of any kind, particularly falling estrogen levels, can temporarily disrupt the hair lifecycle.

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How Do You Measure Hair Loss

Doctors characterize the severity of hair loss using something called the Savin density scale. This scale has 8 stages and describes hair loss around the midline part as well recession in the front of the hairline. Some women lose hair to various degrees around the midline and/or in the front of the hairline. Some women experience hair thinning all over the scalp. Hair loss may occur in episodes or continuously. The doctor parts the hair down the middle of the head and then determines the severity of hair loss. The most common pattern for female pattern baldness is thinning around the midline that occurs in the shape of a Christmas tree. The pattern and severity of female hair loss helps determine the appropriate course of treatment.

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Engelman explains how the hair cycle is a four phase process: Anagen , Catagen , Telogen , and Exogen . Each hair follicle goes through this process at different times, otherwise we would lose all of our hair at the same time before it started to grow again. There is no exact normal number of hairs shed per dayit depends on the individual. But if your normal seems to have changed, and youre finding extra hairs on your pillows, clothing, and even falling into your food, it could mean your hair growth cycle has been disrupted.

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You’re Drying Your Hair With A Towel

Well, using a blow dryer is damagingso what’s the problem with grabbing a towel? There might not seem like there’s too much harm in rubbing your wet hair with a towel, but that can result in breakage and frizztwo things that already occur more often with age. Instead, experts recommend using a much more gentle option: an old t-shirt, which absorbs the bulk of the water so you can let your hair air-dry.

Style Your Hair Right

Hair stylists are a great resource for help for hair loss in women. A new haircut or hairstyle may be just what you need to make your hair appear fuller. Ask your stylist for advice about getting a shorter cut, parting your hair in a different location, or adding curls or waves to add volume to your hair. Products for hair loss in women include using styling products designed for thin hair. Some products are added to the roots while hair is damp before blowing dry. Some cosmetic products can help disguise the appearance of bald spots. Keratin fiber hair cosmetics have a static charge that makes hair appear fuller than it is. Ask your stylist or dermatologist for recommendations about the products and strategies that will work best for you.

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You’re Not Protecting Your Hair From The Sun

Everyone knows how important sunscreen is for their skin. But when’s the last time you’ve taken the proper steps to protect your hair? If it becomes damaged by the sun, expect discoloration, dryness, thinning, and frizz. Don’t depend on UV protectant sprays, though: Despite all the options you see on store shelves, “there’s not a cosmetic product out there that acts like a sunscreen for your hair,” says dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MD. Instead, hats should become your best friend. Look for something that has built-in UPF that combats UVA and UVB rays.

Medications To Treat Hair Loss

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Treatment depends on the underlying cause, says Dr. Scott. Sometimes simply addressing a medical condition prompting hair loss will be enough for the hair to regrow. In other instances, a woman might consider a medication like minoxidil , which helps with certain types of hair loss, or another treatment to replace or regrow lost hair.

A newer option being used to treat hair loss is platelet-rich plasma injections. For this treatment, the doctor draws your blood, divides it into its separate components, recombines the blood fluid with a high concentration of platelets , and introduces the resulting preparation back into the scalp.

The science on this isnt totally worked out. We still dont completely understand the mechanism behind PRP, but growth factors contained in platelets can stimulate regeneration of hair follicles and other tissues as well, says Dr. Scott.

In addition, low-level LED laser lights have been found to be helpful in regrowing hair in some cases. Its likely that even more treatments will be developed in the near future.

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Your Hair Dye Is Causing Harm

As you age, more and more gray hairs start to make an appearance, leading you to reach for the dye. Unfortunately, by trying to fix the problem, you could be making matters worse. “Hair dyesespecially permanentcan contain toxins that are harmful to hair follicles and the scalp,” Durante says. “The toxins can cause intense inflammatory reactions to the scalp, which can seriously damage the hair follicle, causing hair breakage, hair thinning, and hair loss.”

If Youre A Woman Over 40 You Need To Know This About Your Hair

Is your hair acting out? Suddenly feeling drier or more brittle than you remember? Thinner or less manageable?

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror and wondered, What is going on?

Youre not alone.

Many women over 40 are experiencing similar changesin a BIG way.

Changes come in waves, some slow and subtle and others make you feel like youre a different person overnight. Lets start at the top with the mane attractionyour hair. What was once thick and lustrous may have started to become dull and grey. And even if you always had thinner hair, its hard to ignore theres even less there to gripe about.

So whats going on? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Here are a few tips that will take the stress out of dealing with your mature tresses:

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