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.
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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
That meant new products like Hims and Keeps were out.Hims and Keeps are relatively new companies that allow you to set up a subscription for hair loss treatments. Both offer finasteride (after an online consultation with a doctor) or 5 percent minoxidil. However, their minoxidil solutions contain propylene glycol, so we cut them from consideration.
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.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
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.
Surgery or hair transplants: Surgical hair restoration approaches include various versions of hair transplantation (taking hair from the back and putting it near the front) or scalp reduction (cutting away bald areas and stitching the rest together). Transplant procedures have improved greatly in recent years. They can produce much more attractive and natural-looking results than older methods that sometimes leave a "checkerboard" or hair plug look. Many transplant patients now take Propecia to maintain or keep what they've transplanted. When considering a hair transplant, check the surgeon's credentials and experience carefully. Micrografts are some of the newest techniques whereby surgeons transplant single one to two hair follicles. Hair transplants may be very expensive and time-consuming procedures ranging widely anywhere from $1,000-$20,000, depending on the number of hair grafts transplanted. Typically, 500 or more hairs may be transplanted in a session.
*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.
The more upsetting problem is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, a type of baldness that starts at the crown of the head and spreads outward. "It's hugely, hugely difficult," said Susan Taylor, a dermatologist at Penn Medicine who specializes in treating women with CCCA. "It affects quality of life." She said it is seen "almost exclusively" in women of African descent. One study found it in 10 percent to 15 percent of black women, but Taylor thinks it's more common. "I could see women all day, every day, with this problem," she said.
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.
I always advise clients to allow freshly washed hair to air dry until half dry at least once a week. By blow drying for just 50% of the time, you reduce the impact of heat styling without compromise on finish. Small change big difference over a year. We say, “Go Low Low” – use low heat and low speed, it’s the best way to work with a curl to achieve definition and the best route to a frizz free finish on a sleek straight look. Pick a hair dryer that works harder for you too – beyond just drying. My Infrared PRO hairdryer dries from the inside out, so it locks in moisture to keep that glossy finish, while the speed at which it dries minimizes the disturbance to the follicle and thus keeps frizz at bay too.
With those pinned down, it wasn’t hard to determine which don’t actually work. Pretty much all the “active” ingredients listed in ineffective treatments — from biotin and zinc to emu oil and saw palmetto — have never been proven, and are instead marketed based on logical-seeming correlations. It would make sense that biotin, a B vitamin readily found in hair, skin, and nails, could help hair grow more quickly. And caffeine is a stimulant that works in coffee, so rubbing some on your scalp might wake some of those sleepy follicles… right?
Scarring alopecias result in permanent loss of hair. Inflammatory skin conditions (cellulitis, folliculitis, acne), and other skin disorders (such as some forms of lupus and lichen planus) often result in scars that destroy the ability of the hair to regenerate. Hot combs and hair too tightly woven and pulled can also result in permanent hair loss.
Alopecia areata: Researchers believe that this is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune means the body attacks itself. In this case, the body attacks its own hair. This causes smooth, round patches of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body. People with alopecia areata are often in excellent health. Most people see their hair re-grow. Dermatologists treat people with this disorder to help the hair re-grow more quickly.
Vigorous styling and hair treatments over the years can cause your hair to fall out. Examples of extreme styling include tight braids, hair weaves or corn rows as well as chemical relaxers to straighten your hair, hot-oil treatments or any kind of harsh chemical or high heat. Because these practices can actually affect the hair root, your hair might not grow back.
Hair grooming, but more importantly, having a head-full of hair is as important to men as it is to women. To women, it may be an important accessory of beauty, and for men, it adds to a sense of manliness, enhances their looks and makes them more appealing and attractive to women. Balding to men is associated with aging (only old men are expected to lose hair) and therefore, having hair on one's head is a sign of virility and masculinity.
It's no myth that excess stress can literally make your hair fall out. How does this happen? Well, it can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which in turn can causes hair loss. "Stress may also trigger scalp problems, such as dandruff, disrupt eating habits and mess with the digestive system – all of which can have a negative impact on hair" says Anabel.
Somehow stress has an effect on the hair cycle. Typically about 90 percent of hairs are in a growing stage, and about 10 percent are in a resting stage, and it’s these resting-stage hairs that shed. Stress seems to prompt more of the growing hairs to go into the resting phase and then fall out. The good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary; after the hair falls out, a new hair usually will replace and prevent stress-induced hair loss, maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and a nutritious diet.
Illness or surgery: The stress from sickness or surgery may prompt the body to temporarily cease nonessential tasks such as hair production. Specific conditions can also trigger it, including thyroid disorders, syphilis, iron deficiency, lupus or severe infection. An autoimmune condition called alopecia areata, which has no cure, causes rapid body-wide hair loss.
"Others are taking hair follicles out of human scalp and growing them with dermal papilla cells," Cotsarelis says. "If they grow in culture, you might be able to recombine them with skin cells and form new follicles. This would let you expand the number of follicles you get for a hair transplant. This may not be that far off -- five to 10 years, maybe. There's very good evidence you will be able to do that."
Laser treatments. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is used for the prevention and reversal of hair loss. Also known as red light therapy, cold laser, and soft laser, it is a form of light/heat treatment (therefore generally safer) that is used on cases of pattern baldness and alopecia areata. The procedure uses a device that emits light that penetrates into the scalp. The more commonly used lasers are the excimer, helium-neon and fractional erbium-glass. The procedure can increase the blood flow in the scalp to stimulate the follicles that are in resting or dormant phase to go into anagen, and at the same time, prevent the production of DHT, which destroys the hair follicles.
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.
Male pattern baldness involves a receding hairline and thinning around the crown with eventual bald spots. Ultimately, you may have only a horseshoe ring of hair around the sides. In addition to genes, male pattern baldness seems to require the presence of the male hormone testosterone. Men who do not produce testosterone (because of genetic abnormalities or castration) do not develop this pattern baldness.
Jenn Sinrich is an experienced digital and social editor in New York City. She's written for several publications including SELF, Women's Health, Fitness, Parents, American Baby, Ladies' Home Journal and more.She covers various topics from health, fitness and food to pregnancy and parenting. In addition to writing, Jenn also volunteers with Ed2010, serving as the deputy director to Ed's Buddy System, a program that pairs recent graduates with young editors to give them a guide to the publishing industry and to navigating New York.When she's not busy writing, editing or reading, she's enjoying and discovering the city she's always dreamed of living in with her loving fiancé, Dan, and two feline friends, Janis and Jimi.
Hormonal changes and medical conditions. A variety of conditions can cause permanent or temporary hair loss, including hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems. Medical conditions include alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), which causes patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm and a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh).
Medical conditions and medications. A common medical condition that also causes hair loss is hypothyroidism, which can happen in both men and women. Patients suffer from an underactive thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing the hormone, thyroxin, which performs important bodily functions, such as the regulation of body temperature, proper utilization of carbohydrates and fats, and production of protein. Since protein is an important nutrient for the production of keratin, inadequate protein supply in the body due to an underactive thyroid means that hair growth in the follicles is slow. In men especially, hair loss is one of the first signs of hypothyroidism.
As they age, men tend to lose the hair on top of their head, which eventually leaves a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides. This type of hair loss is called male-pattern baldness. It's caused by genes (from both parents -- the idea that men take after their mother's father is a myth) and it's fueled by the male hormone, testosterone. In female-pattern baldness, the hair loss is different -- it thins throughout the top of the scalp, leaving the hair in front intact.