Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
Hair loss is no longer a man’s problem to fear or to seek solutions for improvement. Today more and more women are battling hair loss. Why?
Hair runs through a normal cycle of hair growth that lasts two to six years. During those years, ninety percent of your hair grows an average of one centimeter per month.
The other ten percent of your hair is in a dormant or resting phase. This hair will begin to fall out after two to three months of “resting” and new hair starts to grow in its place. This explains the hair we all see in our brushes and showers on a daily basis. It’s normal and healthy.
But what happens when the hair you shed every day becomes increasingly more and more noticeable?
Hair Loss Causes
Many things can trigger hair loss, stress being number one. Remember that not all stress is related to your job or family and can not all stress can be avoided. For example, it’s common to lose large amounts of hair three to four months after major surgery simply because your body is recovering from extreme stress. This hair loss is ordinarily temporary and not to be feared.
Hormones are another hair loss trigger. If you have either and over or underactive thyroid, you may experience hair loss that can most often be treated as you treat your thyroid condition. An imbalance in male or female hormones can cause hair loss.
Again, treating the hormonal imbalance usually corrects the hair loss. After a pregnancy, many women notice large amounts of hair in their brush. This is due to high levels of hormones that tell your body to keep hair that would normally be shed in the resting phase. When your hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels, your normal hair cycle returns.
Another contributor to hair loss for women is medication. If you are taking blood thinners, are being treated for gout, undergoing chemotherapy, taking certain birth control pills, anti depressants or large amounts of vitamin A, you may experience abnormal hair loss. Under healthy conditions, your hair loss should self-correct as you decrease your intake of these medications.
If you are suffering from a fungal infection on your scalp or have lupus or diabetes, you are also prone to hair loss. Hair loss can be an indicator of these conditions and should be checked by your physician.
Finally, believe it or not, ponytails can be the culprit for your hair loss – so can cornrows, daily use of tight rollers or a hairstyle that puts a repeated strain on a certain area of your hair. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia.
If you stop styling your hair in these ways before permanent scarring occurs, you can most often stop hair loss. Also beware of hot oil treatments and perms that can cause inflammation of the hair follicles that result in scarring and permanent hair loss.
What Can You Do
First, see your doctor. They will most likely ask questions about your diet, medications, recent illnesses and how you care for your hair. Don’t be offended when they ask if you use shampoo!
Menstrual cycles, pregnancies and menopause are also contributors and should be considered.
Your doctor may advise you to have blood tests, a physical exam or a scalp biopsy – don’t worry, it’s a small sample of cells from a nondescript are of your head.
Depending on the results, your doctor may prescribe reversing or eliminating certain daily routines or advise hair treatment medications that are taken orally or applied directly to the scalp.
If your hair loss is not treatable, consider trying a wig, hair extensions or a whole new style that compliments your hair.