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When To Seek Help
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.
Hair Loss In Women: How Common Is It
Hair loss is a common issue in women. Research shows that nearly 12% of women in their 20s to 50% of women over their 80s usually deal with androgenic alopecia . Postpartum hair loss occurs a few weeks after delivering the baby. Emotional distress causes the most severe type of hair loss in women. To better understand how hair loss occurs, we need to look at the hair growth cycle.
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Childbirth May Be A Trigger
Moms-to-be are often very happy that their hair seems much fuller during pregnancy, but they are then disappointed when they experience hair loss after giving birth. Losing hair after pregnancy is not true hair loss and is normal. That’s because hormones and hair loss in women are linked. Hair falls out after women give birth due to decreasing estrogen levels. Some women notice that they lose a lot of hair in a short period of time after giving birth. The good news is that after this shedding period, hair fullness often returns to normal within 1 to 2 years. Many people wonder what’s the best treatment for hair loss in women? For postpartum moms waiting for their full head of hair to return, using over-the-counter volumizing shampoo and conditioner formulated for fine hair can make hair appear fuller.
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.
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Is My Hair Loss Normal
Whether it’s from combing or shampooing , every woman loses a bit of hair on a daily basis. “On average, women lose 100 hairs per day some people lose more and other less,” Shah said.
If a bit more hair is coming out for a few months after a stressful event for instance, a death in the family or major surgery it’s totally normal and usually corrects itself, according to Parks. Also normal? Increased hair loss in the winter or hair loss due to scratching and an inflamed scalp. This type of issue can easily be treated with products like Ducray Kertyol PSO Shampoo. Thinning hair as you get older is also normal.
So, at what point does normal hair loss turn into a cause for concern? If you’re losing more than 100 hairs per day or finding bald patches on your scalp, you should probably consult your dermatologist.
“As a rule, you should always notify a doctor if you believe something is wrong with your body or your health in general. If you notice bald patches the size of small coins, you should notify your doctor or dermatologist,” Sherwood said.
Treatments For Hair Loss
When it comes to treating hair loss, theres really no “one size fits all treatment, but you do have some options.
Treatments vary depending on cause but can include OTC Rogaine, intralesional steroid injections for certain types of inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, oral medications and treating underlying diseases, Parks said.
For androgenetic alopecia, in particular, treatments include minoxidil, platelet-rich plasma and low-level laser therapy. Telogen effluvium, Shah said, has a whole different set of treatments.
In the majority of cases, telogen effluvium resolves spontaneously, so treatment may not be necessary unless a treatable underlying cause is identified, such as thyroid disease or nutritional deficiency, then that would of course be treated, she said. Autoimmune or immune-mediated alopecias usually require treatments that can mediate the immune response.
It’s not always easy to find a legitimate solution for hair loss, but you can definitely arm yourself against false claims.
“It’s first important to identify the type of hair loss and then choose treatments that are FDA-approved, FDA-cleared or have supporting data behind them,” Shah said. “As we are still discovering new things about hair loss, there are some lesser-studied therapeutic options that may help some people. Generally, if a treatment promises overnight results or seems too good to be true, it’s probably not legit.”
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The Relationship Between Hair Loss And Menopause
Hair loss is common during menopause . Period to menopause, the estrogen levels in women decrease and androgen concentrations increase. These changes lead to hair thinning near the front and sides of the hairline.
A change in sex hormone concentration during this time also contributes to hair loss. This change leads to the production of dihydrotestosterone originating from testosterone. It can influence the hair follicles and inhibit hair growth .
Women in their mid-forties are more likely to observe a reduction in their hair diameter and density .
Dealing with hair loss can be hard. But with the right measures and treatment options, hair regrowth is often possible. Understanding what is causing your hair loss can help you adopt the right practices to treat your condition. Talk to a dermatologist or trichologist who will suggest the right mode of treatment for you.
Changes In Birth Control
Going off hormonal birth control or changing to a different type of hormonal contraception can also cause hormone-induced shedding. “Whether you’re just starting it, discontinuing it, or changing brands, your body can react by causing the hair to go into an increased shedding mode,” Dr. Fusco says.
This is another form of telogen effluvium, which means that its usually temporary. You can rely on volumizing products and styling tricks while you wait for your hair to regain its fullness.
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Signs Of Hair Loss In Women
- Overall thinning on the top of your head. Men notice bald spots more commonly, while women will see a difference in density.
- Bald patches can be seen in some cases.
- If you have gone through emotional trauma in the recent past, you may notice your hair falling in clumps in the shower or while brushing it.
- Complete hair loss can also be seen post a few medical treatments like chemotherapy.
What Is Alopecia
Alopecia is basically a fancy medical term for hair loss and, like many conditions, no two types of alopecia are the same. There are a number of different types of alopecia and they are generally characterized by thinning hair or complete loss of hair, said cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah of New York City’s SmarterSkin Dermatology.
Although several types of hair loss exist, the two most common are androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium , according to Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist for Philip Kingsley hair care.
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What Can I Do
- The appearance of menopausal hair loss can sometimes be improved by cosmetic practices, e.g. reducing the use of straighteners, hair dryers and other heat damaging tools. This along with the use of thickening shampoos and conditioners may improve hair appearance.
- A healthy, varied diet is a contributing factor to a healthy body, so a nutritional review may be helpful.
- Topical solutions to increase hair growth can be purchased. These take several months to take effect and must be used on an ongoing basis, or hair loss will return.
- Laser devices that emit low-energy laser light may stimulate hair growth to help fight thinning hair. Laser therapy is best carried out by a hairdresser or therapist with experience and training on these devices. The long-term safety and effectiveness are unknown.
- Some medications have side effects that could include hair loss. Make sure to talk to your doctor if youve noticed significant hair loss and you think that your medicine might be the cause.
- An important function of hair is to protect the scalp from sunlight it is therefore important to protect any bald areas of your scalp from the sun to prevent sunburn and to reduce the chances of developing long-term sun damage.
- Be reassured. Most menopause related hair loss does slow down with time.
Thyroid Function And Signs Of Androgenization
In literature thyroid dysfunctions associated with hyperprolactinemia are described.- Therefore in every patient TSH concentration was measured. Additionally, in 13 of 14 patients T3 and T4 concentrations were estimated. No correlation between prolactin levels and the thyroid specific parameters could be detected. Furthermore, 95% of the patients had a normal thyroid function, 2.5% showed a slight hyperthyreoidism and 2.5% had a slight hypothyreoidism. Diagnostics by ultra sound or scintigraphy revealed in 30% a goiter with no signs of malignancy. Finally it can be stated that the results of thyroid diagnostics are not specific for the discussed context but correspond to those in the normal population.
Similar conclusions also allow the results from the andogenetic diagnostics, because no clinical signs of androgenization or an increased level of testosterone, androstendione and dihydroepiandrostendione were found. Therefore it has to be assumed that androgenic hormonal abnormalities described in literature, only occur in more severe endocrinological disorders like the polycystic ovary syndrome , in combination with hirsutism or by severe dysfunctions of the hypothalamic-hypophyseal-axis. But on the other hand there are also patients with PCO and hyperprolactinemia with low mean serum testosterone concentrations.
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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.
What Specific Treatments Are There For Hair Loss In Women
Female hair loss treatments include minoxidil , hair transplants, hair-powder fibers like Toppik, wigs, hair extensions, and weaves.
- Minoxidil is available over the counter and available in 2%, 4%, and 5% concentrations. It may be something of a nuisance to apply twice daily, but it has been shown to help conserve hair and may even grow some. Minoxidil tends to grow very fine small hairs wherever it is applied. It is important to avoid running the liquid onto the face or neck where it can also grow hair. It is marketed for women at the 2% concentration but may be used in higher strengths as directed by a doctor.
- Surgical procedures like hair transplants can be useful for some women as well as men to “fill in” thinned-out areas.
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Infections That Cause Hair Loss
A number of infections and illnesses can lead to hair loss. An infection that causes a high fever, a fungal skin infection, and bacterial infections like syphilis can all be responsible for balding or thinning hair. Treating the underlying infection can restore hair growth and prevent future hair loss. So your first step is to seek medical attention for the primary health problem.
Determination Of Anagen And Telogen Hairs
In contrast to the unit area trichogram the mentioned pluck trichogram is less painful and delivers better cosmetic results, because there is only a small line left without hair. This small hair line can easily be covered by the remaining hair and after 4 mo every hair is regrown. For the unit area trichogram however a greater tuft of hairs has to be plucked out, which can be very painful, particularly when the hairs are firmly anchored. For the computer assisted digital phototrichogram an area of one square centimeter has to be shaved in the frontoparietal and occipital region of the scalp. This procedure can be a problem in long hair, because it takes several months until the hair has grown back. Furthermore the left hairs in the shaved area have to be black colored for measurement.
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Is Hair Loss In Women Different Than Men
Women lose hair on an inherited basis, too, but female pattern hair loss tends to be more diffuse, with less likelihood of the crown and frontal hairline being lost. Although some women may notice hair thinning as early as their 20s, the pace of hair loss tends to be gradual, often taking years to become obvious to others. There seems to be a normal physiologic thinning that comes with age and occurs in many women in their early to mid-30s. More women have underlying causes of hair loss than men. These include treatable conditions like anemia and thyroid disease and polycystic ovary syndrome . These conditions are diagnosed by blood tests along with a historical and physical evidence. Although a few studies have suggested that baldness may be inherited through the mother’s family genes, these theories require further testing. Current studies are inconclusive. Although not indicated for female pattern balding, spironolactone has had some success in treating this condition.
While stories about hats choking off follicles or long hair pulling on the roots may be more folklore, repeat hair trauma like tightly woven hair pulled back and consistent friction can potentially worsen or cause localized hair loss in some individuals. Individuals who pull their hair tightly back in a rubber band can develop a localized hair loss at the front of the scalp.
Hair loss “myths” of special concern to women