Periods of prolonged or severe illness can affect the hair. “As with extreme stress and extreme diets, this also comes down to the body preserving its energy balance and shutting down non-essential functions in order to battle the illness more effectively,” Berg says. “In fact, physicians have used an inspection of the fingernails and hair quality as part of standard examinations of overall health for many years. Changes in these features provide some clues about the length and severity of illness.” Other diseases, such as diabetes and lupus, can also cause hair loss. Check out these other things your hair can reveal about your health.
The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or, in other words, male or female pattern baldness or hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is genetic and affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. Among white women in the U.S., an average of 19% are affected by female pattern hair loss, but that percentage increases with age. The prevalence is nearly doubled in Australia at 32% and much lower in Korea and China at < 6%. As of 2015, no studies had been done on the prevalence of female pattern hair loss in Brazil or Africa.
The pull test helps to evaluate diffuse scalp hair loss. Gentle traction is exerted on a group of hairs (about 40–60) on three different areas of the scalp. The number of extracted hairs is counted and examined under a microscope. Normally, fewer than three hairs per area should come out with each pull. If more than ten hairs are obtained, the pull test is considered positive.
Every part of the body requires thyroid hormone for proper functioning, and that includes the hair follicles. In 2008, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism presented the first evidence that human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones. This research demonstrated that the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 modulate multiple hair biology parameters from cycling to pigmentation.
If you're going through or about to enter the menopause, changes in your body may also have an effect on your hair. "Hair loss becomes more prevalent leading up to and after the menopause" reveals Anabel. That being said, "it's important to realise that our hair ages, and as we get older, hair naturally gets finer. It's a totally normal part of the ageing process."
Symptoms of hair loss include hair loss in patches usually in circular patterns, dandruff, skin lesions, and scarring. Alopecia areata (mild – medium level) usually shows in unusual hair loss areas, e.g., eyebrows, backside of the head or above the ears, areas the male pattern baldness usually does not affect. In male-pattern hair loss, loss and thinning begin at the temples and the crown and hair either thins out or falls out. Female-pattern hair loss occurs at the frontal and parietal.
Promote natural hair growth by eating a good hair loss diet. Here are five of the top foods for hair growth, including nuts (which contain omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, vitamin E and copper), oysters (rich in zinc), sweet potatoes (omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, K and E), eggs (a good source of protein, plus biotin, other B vitamins, zinc, selenium, sulfur and iron), and spinach (iron, beta-carotene, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C).
Egg mask. Eggs are one of the riches sources of protein, which is the building block of keratin, as well as other minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorous and iodine. Mix an egg white with a tablespoon of olive oil and honey to make a paste. Apply it on your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse and shampoo using cold water. You can apply this egg mask on your hair once a week.
Licorice root. Licorice is an herb that is also used to treat and prevent hair loss and hair damage. It soothes the scalp and helps with dry flakes, dandruff and other forms of scalp irritation. Mix a tablespoon of ground licorice root with a cup of milk and a quarter teaspoon of saffron. Apply the paste on the bald patches and leave it on overnight. Rinse in the morning. You can do this two to three times a week.
Once male-pattern baldness starts, it’s not going to stop until every last hair on your head has shrunk or shed, though the rate at which this happens differs from person to person and depends on genetics. And since the grind of hair loss is unending, it’s important to start treatment as soon as your hairline starts bothering you. If you’re looking for a more quantitative metric, Dr. Paul McAndrews, clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine and member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, assures me that “you have to lose half your hair before the human eye can tell.” (Of course, if you don’t care about losing your hair and are fine with going full Prince William and shaving your head, go for it. We’ve got some recommendations for razors and hair trimmers to help you out on that front.)
Scalp reduction is the process is the decreasing of the area of bald skin on the head. In time, the skin on the head becomes flexible and stretched enough that some of it can be surgically removed. After the hairless scalp is removed, the space is closed with hair-covered scalp. Scalp reduction is generally done in combination with hair transplantation to provide a natural-looking hairline, especially those with extensive hair loss.
Hair concealers and hair fibers. These are one of the newest cosmetic answers to hair loss. As the name suggests, these products are applied on the scalp or hair to camouflage hair loss and give the appearance of fullness to thinning hair. Some of these are applied directly on the scalp, while others (hair fibers) are attached to the hair, much like hair extensions, to add volume.
Anagen is the growth phase. This lasts for about 3 - 5 years, where you can observe your hair growing half an inch every month. Full-length hair from this phase is about 18 - 30 inches long. Studies show that this phase may also be affected by other factors. Asian hair, for example, has been found to have a longer anagen phase. Weather is also a factor; hair growth can be faster in summer than in winter.
Do not subject your hair to frequent chemical treatments, excessive blow drying, ironing, and coloring, as it can lead to hair loss. If you color your hair and have been facing hair fall issues, it would be a good idea to take a short break before you put any more chemicals in your hair. Avoid hairstyles like tight ponytails, pigtails or braids on a daily basis. Using hair elastics to pull back hair tightly can cause hair fall.
See a doctor. While it may be easy to treat hair loss that's caused by stress or other physical or emotional shock, other types, especially those caused by medical conditions, require expert attention. Do not self-medicate. A medical test is necessary to determine the real cause of your hair loss. A medical diagnosis is important in order to rule out other factors that might be the cause of your hair loss. On the surface, it's easy to attribute hair loss to stress or the lack of sleep, but it is highly possible that the hair loss may be caused by an unknown or undetected condition related to hormones or genetics. With the right diagnosis, you'll be able to get the right medication and course of treatment.
*all photos are models and not actual patients.If you are interested in a prescription product, Hims will assist in setting up a visit for you with an independent physician who will evaluate whether or not you are an appropriate candidate for the prescription product and if appropriate, may write you a prescription for the product which you can fill at the pharmacy of your choice.
Last but not least, greasy hair is also one of the common hair problems that people should be aware of. The hair scalp contains one type of oil known as sebum, which is responsible for keeping the skin lubricated and generated by the sebaceous glands. However, sometimes, these glands work so hard that produce excess oil, resulting in the greasy hair. This type of common hair problems is a real trouble for many people who love the tidiness. To deal with this one, you should try washing your hair with a gentle shampoo in order to control the sebum production.
Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting 6.5 million men in the UK, according to the NHS Choices website. For some men the process can start as early as their 20s and by the age of 60 most men have some degree of hair loss, although in some cases this can just be a part of the ageing process as opposed to a hereditary condition. Male pattern baldness is not a disease or illness and it doesn't affect your health. However, if you have hair loss that doesn't follow this pattern, for example your hair is falling out in clumps and leaving patches, then you should talk to your GP.
Again, you’ll want to visit your doctor to get a blood test to check your levels in these vitamins. For example, women who have iron levels lower than 70 nanograms per milliliter are considered deficient. From there, work with your doctor to find an appropriate dose according to your deficiency level. Excessive or unnecessary supplementation can be dangerous.
Women lose hair on an inherited (genetic) 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 (PCOS). 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 (Aldactone) has had some success in treating this condition.
Scientists have put a lot of effort into investigating the cause of gray hair, and they believe they've gotten to the root of the problem. Hair gets its color from a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocyte cells in the hair follicles. Researchers have discovered that melanocytes endure cumulative damage over the years, which eventually leaves them unable to produce melanin. Studies have cited DNA damage and a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the follicles as possible causes of this disruption in melanin production. Without melanin, the new hair that grows in has no pigment, which makes it appear gray, white, or silver.
What to do: Like anemia, simple supplementation should help the problem. So can dietary changes. Find natural vitamin B in fish, meat, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits. As always, eating a balanced diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and “good” fats such as avocado and nuts will be good for your hair and your overall health.
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.
There's a chance you're genetically predisposed to hair thinning, which means you may see a progressive, gradual reduction in hair volume. "In these instances, certain hair follicles are sensitive to male hormones – and this sensitivity causes follicles to gradually shrink and produce slightly finer and shorter hairs with each passing hair growth cycle." Explains Anabel.
There are now clinical trials taking place around the country to test the safety and efficacy of the drug for hair loss conditions. One such study lasting 3 months gave Tofacitinib to 66 people with alopecia areata (an immune-system condition that causes hair to fall out in patches). Half of the people regrew some hair, and one-third had more than 50 percent of the hair on their scalp grow back, according to the 2016 study, published in the journal JCI Insight.
Drink plenty of water and keep yourself well hydrated. Cut down on smoking and alcohol drinking which makes you dehydrated. If you are not consuming enough water to meet your body’s daily oxygen requirements, the cells responsible for hair growth will not be able to grow and reproduce. This will make your hair brittle, withered and very dry. Not drinking enough water can stop the natural growth cycle of your hair. So drink plenty of water to get a long, shiny and luscious mane!
Traction alopecia - certain hairstyles such as when you pull on your hair tightly can cause scarring of the hair follicles. If pulling is stopped before scarring to the scalp then your hair will grow back normally. Nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing can also cause scarring and ultimately permanent hair loss. Excessive shampooing and blow-drying can also cause hair loss.
And though this treatment appears to be safe and somewhat effective, it’s hard to tell who will react well to this low-level light therapy, which is why the doctors I spoke with were hesitant to fully endorse it. “We’re not sure what the optimal power is, what the optimal wavelength is, we don’t even really know the mechanism of action of how this is working,” says Rieder. Plus, it doesn’t work on everyone. “There are subpopulations of patients who do respond to low-level laser light, but this is not easily predictable,” explains McMichael, though she adds that the risk of using the LaserComb is low.
Again, as we've mentioned at the start, these treatments and cures are dependent on the cause and type of hair loss. While massage oils and a hair spa treatment can work on hair loss in men caused by a skin or scalp infection, these may not work for cases of pattern baldness that are hereditary or caused by DHT associated with male hormones. Even medications like minodixil and finasteride cannot offer a permanent cure. In cases of permanent hair loss like pattern baldness, sometimes the best type of cure is simply management of your condition.
If your doctor recommends it, a product like minoxidil can increase hair growth in male- and female-pattern baldness. Alopecia areata can be helped by treatment with corticosteroid creams or injections on the scalp. If your doctor thinks that nutritional deficiencies are causing your hair loss, he or she might refer you to a dietitian or other nutrition expert.
Finasteride (Propecia): This medication is FDA approved for use in only men with androgenic hair loss. Finasteride is in a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. It helps reduce hair loss by blocking the action of natural hormones in scalp hair follicles. Propecia is a lower-dose version of a commercially available drug called Proscar that helps shrink enlarged prostates in middle-aged and older men. Women of child-bearing potential should avoid finasteride. Propecia 1 mg tablets are available by prescription and taken once daily. Propecia may grow and thicken hair to some extent for some people, but its main use is to keep (maintain) hair that's still there. Studies have shown that this medication works well in some types of hair loss, and patients should use it for about six to 12 months before full effects are determined. This medication does not "work" in days to weeks, and its onset of visible improvement tends to be gradual. It may be best for men who still have enough hair to retain but also can help some regrow hair. Possible but very unlikely side effects include impotence or a decreased sex drive (libido). Studies show that these side effects were possibly slightly more common than seen in the general population and are reversible when patients stop taking the drug. The cost is about $70-$100/month, and most health insurers do not reimburse for the expense.
"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.