"My hair began to thin when I was 28 years old. Now I am 44 and the top of my head is bald. Recently, I considered using medicine to treat my hair loss and see if any hair would regrow. After reading the literature and talking to my doctor, I decided not to take medicine because it is unlikely to make a huge difference in my hair—and I don't want to take medicine forever!"
First things first, Anabel explained that hair loss is a very common problem for women – much more so that people realise. "Research shows that at least 1 in 3 women will suffer from hair loss or reduced hair volume at some point in their lifetime". So if you are losing strands, it's important not to freak out, your mane will recover. In the meantime, here's everything you need to know...
Central centrifugal cicatricial (scarring) alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs most often in women of African descent. It begins in the center of the scalp. As it progresses, the hair loss radiates out from the center of the scalp. The affected scalp becomes smooth and shiny. The hair loss can be very slow or rapid. When hair loss occurs quickly, the person may have tingling, burning, pain, or itching on the scalp. Treatment may help the hair re-grow if scarring has not occurred.
A more temporary form of hair loss is telogen effluvium or when hair follicles get stuck in the telogen or resting phase and stop growing new hair. Telogen effluvium can occur three months after a significant medical event like childbirth, surgery, or a high fever, but can also be caused by a thyroid imbalance or iron deficiency. Certain medications like blood thinners and birth control pills are also linked to this form of hair loss.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) 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.
2. Volumizing shampoos and treatments. Typically, these work by depositing ingredients, like wheat protein and keratin, that adhere to the hair shaft to a) thicken it and b) create spaces between hairs so you look like you have more of it. Try Kiehl’s Rice & Wheat Volumizing Shampoo ($18) with hydrolyzed wheat protein; Rogers likes Redken Cerafill Defy Shampoo and Conditioner ($20 each) with ceramides that bulk up hair.
Hair-fiber powders: Colored, powdery fiber sprinkles are commercially available and may work to camouflage balding areas. These colored sprinkles have special properties that help them attach to hair and give a fuller appearance. Toppik is one manufacturer of these products and can be found online. These cosmetic products are available without a prescription, are fairly inexpensive ($20-$40 range), and quite safe with minimal risk. Often these may be used in addition to medical treatments like Rogaine, Propecia, and hair transplants, and they are a great temporary measure to tide one over for special occasions.
With sufficient vitamin C, every component related to hair growth gets a boost, which enhances the effects of other essential nutrients. One study from 2006 analyzed patients with androgenic alopecia who were treated with vitamin C and found significant growth stimulation in the hair and scalp, which indicates a link between it and hair follicle growth. In this study they also found that men with male pattern baldness (alopecia areta) saw significant results after supplementing with Vitamin C.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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.
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.
Hair follicles on our head are at various stages of this hair growth cycle, so that while some hair follicles are in the last stages, others are just beginning their anagen phase, while others still are in the middle of the hair growth cycle. It's because of these varying stages of growth that our hair doesn't fall out all at once. Instead, you only shed about 50 - 100 strands a day - this is the normal rate of shedding hair.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is another imbalance in male and female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, changes in your menstrual period, infertility, as well as hair thinning. Because male hormones are overrepresented in PCOS, women may also experience more hair on the face and body.
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.
As with transplants, the word toupee conjures an outdated and disagreeable image. The 70s-style rugs have mostly been traded in for spiffier "hair replacement systems." But the basic concept -- a foreign object atop your head -- can only evolve so far. Of course, the effectiveness of hairpieces is tough to evaluate. You may spot an awful one now and then, but the ones you do spot are just the awful ones. Who knows how many masterpieces slip undetected under the radar?