Alopecia areata. This condition, called patchy hair loss, is the opposite of pattern baldness. Whereas in the former, thinning hair follows a pattern, alopecia areata is marked by smooth and bald patches anywhere on the scalp. The bald patches are circular, and can be as small as a pencil eraser or as big as a quarter. It begins with one or two spots that multiply on other parts of the head. The condition is caused by an autoimmune disease where the antibodies mistake the hair as the "enemy" and start attacking it, resulting into hair loss.
Thinning hair in women is worth investigating for more than its impact on physical appearance. While many conditions that lead to temporary hair loss will go away without treatment or with simple lifestyle measures, others may be signs of potentially irreversible loss or health conditions. Others yet may respond well to treatments to promote regrowth, so starting sooner rather than later is key.
Finasteride, also known as the brand name Propecia, is a pill that is FDA approved to prevent hair loss. But don’t confuse this for being a miracle cure for baldness. There’s no such thing as a magical cure that stops male pattern baldness. However, finasteride can be an effective way to prevent your hair from thinning because it prohibits the conversion of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is a powerful hormone that causes hair follicles to miniaturize and eventually stop growing hair. You get this benefit as long as you take it properly and consistently as prescribed by your doctor.
The noticeable hair loss was a red flag for me that I needed to get to my doctor for thyroid testing. I’m on the natural desiccated thyroid Nature-throid plus a compounded time-release T3. My doctor did comprehensive testing including the essential thyroid tests TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. Turned out my Free T3 was middle of the range. I personally feel terrible when my Free T3 is low or even middle of the range. Optimal Free T3 for my body is when it reaches top quarter of the normal range, so adjusting my thyroid medication dosage was an essential piece to my thyroid hair loss. There are many different thyroid medication options. Finding a doctor open the treatment options to find what is right for you is key.
Certain foods have also been found to aggravate or worsen hair fall, such as sugar, which triggers the overproduction of the male hormone, androgen, which in turn causes the hair follicles to shrink in size and for hair to fall out or stop growing. Fish products that are known to contain high levels of mercury like tuna, mackerel and swordfish can also cause hair weakening and excessive hair fall. Studies have also found that fried foods are associated with the production of high levels of DHT.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
A bathroom covered with loose strands or an ever-scrawnier ponytail can be startling but doesn't necessarily mean anything's wrong. By age 50, half of women will complain of hair loss. "As we age, overall hair density changes and individual strands become finer," says dermatologist Doris J. Day, MD. But just because thinning is natural doesn't mean you have to accept it. Here are 13 solutions to help you keep the hair out of your brush and on your head.
The normal cycle of hair goes through a phase of growth and rest. Each individual hair survives for an average of three and a half years. The growth phase of hair generally lasts two to three years, during which time it grows about half an inch a month. This growing phase is called anagen. This is followed by a resting phase called telogen, which lasts for about three to four months. Usually in its fourth year the hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one.
Finasteride inhibits an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that causes hair loss in men, and unlike minoxidil, this drug can actually help hair grow back, as well as prevent further loss. All you have to do is take one pill a day, and according to Dr. Evan Rieder, dermatologist in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, two-thirds of men taking this treatment will see improvements in hair density over time.
Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
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“The most common cause of hair loss in both men and women is androgenetic alopecia, which is genetic pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Michael B. Wolfeld, a board-certified plastic surgeon and an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The root cause of this type of hair loss is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone that shrinks certain hair follicles until they eventually stop producing hair.
Despite advances in our understanding of hair loss, there are limits to current treatment. In particular, age-related hair loss and inherited forms of hair loss are difficult to reverse, although treatment may prevent further loss and produce partial regrowth. Non-surgical treatments include lotions and tablets. These generally need to be used continuously for the benefits to be maintained. If you stop treatment, regrowth will cease and hair loss will resume.
1. Hair color. Anytime you dye your hair, you’re increasing the diameter of each strand, which can help add volume when your hair is sparse and fine. As a general rule, ask your colorist to make sure highlights are finer at the top of the head, where hair is the thinnest, and more intense at the bottom, where it’s thickest, says Eva Scrivo, a hairstylist and the owner of the Eva Scrivo Salon in New York City. And beware: A color that contrasts with your scalp (blonde tones if your scalp is dark, deep brunettes if your scalp is light) will make any visible scalp more obvious.
Post surgery care is important if you've undergone a hair transplant or surgery. Expect some swelling of the face and on the scalp a couple of days after the procedure. To fast track hair growth, you may be asked to use Minoxidil or Finasteride. Saline is applied on the grafts for a few days, while you will be prescribed to use a diluted shampoo that is softer and less harsh on the scalp. Hair growth in the transplanted areas becomes visible in three - six months.
This refers to the habitual pulling or twisting of one's own hair. The scalp and eyelashes are often affected. Unlike alopecia areata patches, which are perfectly smooth, hair patches in trichotillomania show broken-off hairs. Treatment is often entirely behavioral. One has to notice the behavior and then consciously stop. Severe or resistant cases may require stress counseling with a therapist or psychologist or medical treatment with a psychiatrist. Several antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications can help with this condition.
Giovanni Mele, a stylist who owns Giovanni and Pileggi in Center City, said many women with thinning hair try to wear their hair long. He thinks they're much better off with short, pixie-like styles with light layering on top. He recommends that lighter-skinned women choose colors that are a little darker than blond or gray. He is a fan of a hair-thickening product made by Nioxin.
Enriched with the goodness of natural ingredients such as henna, brahmi, baheda, fenugreek, jojoba oil, amla, bhringaraj, olive oil, wheat germ oil, sesame oil, this nourishing hair oil helps fight and prevent hair fall. It encourages new hair growth by stimulating the follicles, while also strengthening the hair, and reducing thinning with regular use. While on the pricier side, this oil is worth the money because of how effective it is.
Medications and vitamins: Cancer chemotherapy, which attacks hair follicles in its attempt to kill all fast-growing cells around the body, is a well-known reason for hair loss. Other medications’ side effects include hair shedding as well, such as some that treat high blood pressure and gout (a painful joint condition caused by a buildup of uric acid). Excessive levels of vitamin A also contribute.
Telogen effluvium - occurs mainly due to the body’s reaction to stress, brought about by, illnesses such as cancer, mental and emotional disturbances, medications such as blood thinners, hormonal imbalances, stress during childbirth and so on. In this condition hair thinning occurs on the scalp. The hair usually regrows after the stress period is over.
Nutrient deficiencies are a common issue for those of us with hypothyroidism. Not only are nutrients essential for thyroid function, but they also play an important role in keeping the hair on our heads from falling. A good quality multi-vitamin is important and of course a healthy diet is essential, but still nutrient testing is important because many like me will require additional supplementation to bring us to optimal. Testing should include iodine, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, B12, and magnesium.
According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. While there isn't a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she's seen women's hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
"The thyroid gland helps to regulate the body's metabolism by controlling the production of proteins and tissue use of oxygen. Any thyroid imbalance can therefore affect hair follicles", Anabel explains. Also, if hypothyroidism is left untreated it may result in anaemia, which - as we've just discussed - is another condition that can impact the hair (or lack of it).
Hair transplantation is usually carried out under local anaesthetic. A surgeon will move healthy hair from the back and sides of the head to areas of thinning. The procedure can take between four and eight hours, and additional sessions can be carried out to make hair even thicker. Transplanted hair falls out within a few weeks, but regrows permanently within months. Hair transplants, takes tiny plugs of skin, each which contains a few hairs, and implants the plugs into bald sections. The plugs are generally taken from the back or sides of the scalp. Several transplant sessions may be necessary.
Choosing where and who will perform your hair transplant is as important a consideration as to what kind of hair transplant to get. Of utmost consideration is that this should be done by the dermatologist /surgeon, and not his/her technician. The surgeon himself/herself should also oversee the design of your hairline and how the extraction of the graft will be done.
What to do: Once chemotherapy is stopped, your hair will grow back although often it will come back with a different texture (perhaps curly when before it was straight) or a different color. Researchers are working on more targeted drugs to treat cancer, ones that would bypass this and other side effects. In the meantime, Here's How to Deal With Thinning Hair During Chemo.
Finasteride is available on private prescription in a tablet form. It prevents the hormone testosterone being converted to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is known to shrink hair follicles. Blocking this action can help the hair follicles to return to their normal size. It usually takes three to six months of daily use to see an effect, and the process starts again if treatment is stopped.
Some medications can trigger hair loss. Hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy treatment for cancer. But some common medications may also lead to hair loss, including anticoagulants that thin the blood, high blood pressure medication, gout medication, antidepressants, and birth control pills. By switching to a different medication under your doctor’s guidance, you can usually stop this kind of hair loss. Your lifestyle, especially one characterized by high-stress levels, not getting proper nutrition, and significant weight loss can play a major role in your health and the health of your hair. Although experts don’t know the exact process, there is a clear relationship between high levels of stress and hair loss.
If proper treatments are not carried out, the dry conditions can lead to other serious common hair problems such as frizzy hair, split ends, thinning hair, hair loss, and hair breakage at an early age. Therefore, it is important for you to moisturize and hydrate the hair strands. High- quality conditioner is strongly required for those common hair problems. Some types of essential oils can be perfect choices for you by making your dry hair shiny and soft again. Remember not to comb your hair if it is still wet to avoid breakage and split ends.
Cicatricial or Scarring alopecia - hair loss occurs when inflammation damages and scars the hair follicle and replaces it with scar tissue. The inflammation that destroys the follicle is under the skin surface so affected areas of the scalp may show little signs of inflammation. It is not known what triggers or causes this inflammation. If the inflammation destroys the stem cells and sebaceous glands, then hair loss is permanent.
While you won’t find a miracle shampoo on the market, nioxin and some other products can help keep your scalp in tip-top shape to improve the look of any hairs you do have left on your head. In fact, feeding your hair with the proper nutrients both inside and out can make it appear healthier, so you might consider using products with natural herbs, such as rosemary and mint.
"Firstly, even the very good ones won’t get to the root of the issue - pardon the pun - and prevent or treat male or female pattern baldness which is caused by genetics, nor deal with hormonal issues at the heart of female hair loss. But they can help make the hair you do have stronger and healthier. And they can be useful in putting a hair loss regime in place, along with medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride and/ or a hair transplant.