This week, we’ll be chatting about hair loss, a really broad topic so grab a seat and let’s get started.
Although hair loss may seem like a more prominent problem in men, women are nearly as likely to lose or have thinning hair and most notice it after their 50s, but it can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons.
Most people lose around 50 to 100 strands of hair each day. On the days when hair is washed, people can lose up to 250 strands but don’t avoid washing to keep the hair because it will fall out eventually anyway. Typically, each time a normal hair follicle is shed, it is replaced by hair that is equal in size. But in women with hair loss, the new hair is finer and thinner, the hair follicles are shrinking and eventually they stop growing altogether.
There are ways to know when hair is thinning or being lost at a higher rate.
• When waking up in the morning, there may be an usually large amount on your pillow.
• When you comb your hair, more than normal will be left in the comb.
• You notice less hair on the top third to one half of your scalp.
• Noticing that the part you make at the middle or side is gradually becoming wider or you see more of your scalp than normal when your hair is pulled back.
Almost 50% of women will experience some degree of hair loss or thinning before age 50, which often worsens with MENOPAUSE. Your hormones support your hair growth and so when estrogen levels dip during menopause, the hair begins to change. Your gynaecologist can advice you on the best way to keep your estrogen levels up.
TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM is a phenomenon that occurs after pregnancy, major surgery, drastic weight loss, or extreme stress. It can also be a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants, beta blockers, and nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs. During telogen effluvium, hair shifts faster than normal from its growing phase into the resting phase before moving quickly into the shedding phase leading to you losing alot of hair in a short period of time.
In some cases, such as pregnancy or major surgery, you may have to wait until the hair loss slows. If medication is the culprit, talk to your doctor. If it’s stress related, do your best to reduce anxiety.
Hair loss that is genetic is known as ANDROGENETIC ALOPECIA and is a common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family, though you’re more likely to have it if both of your parents have hair loss.
Women with this trait tend to develop thinning at the hairline. The condition develops slowly and may start as early as your 20s. In some cases, the hair loss may spread across the entire scalp.
Ask your doctor for a drug such as Minoxidil (Rogaine) that can slow down the hair loss.
When your body produces too little thyroid hormone, the hormone responsible for metabolism, heart rate and mood, you are said to have HYPOTHYROIDISM. If your body makes too much of the hormone, you’re said to have hyperthyroidism. The thyroid hormone is responsible for everything from the rate at which your body uses oxygen and energy for survival to the growth of your hair, skin, and nails. When you don’t have the right amount, you may notice changes such as unexplained weight gain, fatigue, constipation, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Hair, nails and skin may become more brittle and break more easily. It’s more common in women especially over the age of 50.
Your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone medication to restore levels to normal.
DIETING AND POOR NUTRITION could lead to hair loss. As I’ve mentioned previously, proper nutrition is vital for hair health. When your body isn’t getting adequate nutrition, it shifts the nutritional stores available to vital organs like your brain and heart and away from less important ones like your skin and hair.
Hair thrives on protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins. Get them from lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, beans, and fish.
Women who have heavy periods or don’t eat enough iron rich foods may be prone to IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA, in which the blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells. It causes extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, headaches and hair loss too.
Eat iron rich foods such as beef, pork, fish, leafy greens, fortified cereals, along with foods rich in vitamin C which enhances iron absorption.
An unhealthy scalp can cause inflammation that makes it difficult for hair to grow. Skin conditions that lead to hair loss include SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS (DANDRUFF) which causes the scalp to shed its skin. You’ll notice greasy, yellowish/whitish scales on your shoulders or in your hair. It may be the result of yeast called Malassezia, dry scalp, hormonal changes or excess oil on the scalp.
PSORIASIS is an autoimmune condition that causes excessive skin cell turnover and produces a very thick white scale on the scalp that can bleed if pulled off.
With FUNGAL INFECTIONS such as ringworm which is a fungus you contract by touching an infected person or animal, you’ll notice red or white patches on your scalp.
Each condition usually requires a prescription. A medicated shampoo for dandruff, medications or light therapy for psoriasis, and oral antifungals for ringworm.
ALOPECIA AREATA is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. The cause is unknown, but it may be triggered by stress or illness.
The condition commonly causes round, smooth patches of baldness on the scalp, eyebrows, or legs, total hair loss on the head or hair loss occurs all over the body.
It can be treated with medication but it’s also important to reduce stress.
LUPUS is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy tissues. In addition to all the other symptoms, many people will experience hair loss, which may be mild and occur while shampooing or brushing your hair or it may be more severe, coming out in patches and accompanied by a rash on the scalp.
It can be managed using medication.
Severe STYLING including too much shampooing, heat and dyeing can harm your tresses. As I’ve mentioned previously, years of pulling your hair too tight in a bun or ponytail or plaiting can put stress on the hair and cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. Bleaching or regular use of dyes, relaxers and other hair products as well as straightening irons and curling wands can also lead to weaker hair that breaks and falls off.
Avoid using appliances that overheat your hair. Set your hair dryer on cool and low settings and minimize your use of flat irons.
Don’t dye your hair more than one or two shades from its normal color because the more severe the color change, the more chemicals you require, which can make hair break.
If you use hair gel or hair spray, don’t wait for it to dry before you comb through it, because the hair will harden and be more likely to break.
Massaging your head improves blood flow to the scalp. This means a better environment for hair growth, but it also aids the penetration of any treatments and oils you use. This is why we advocate for massaging your scalp while using Sallah Oils.
Routine health checks are also important. Sometimes the fix may be as simple as adding an iron or vitamin supplement.
If you’re under constant pressure, try and keep your stress levels down. A good way to do it would be getting an interesting hobby.
As seen from all the medical terms we’ve used today, every once in a while, hair loss is a symptom of something else that’s going on with your body. If your hair loss is sudden and excessive or simple solutions like the ones mentioned above aren’t working, feel free to talk with a doctor about other possibilities. Better safe than sorry.
Let us know what you’d like us to chat about by leaving a comment or sending us a message and we’ll do our best to give you helpful information.
That’s it for this week! Have a fabulous day and remember YOUR HAIR IS YOUR BEST ACCESSORY!