Hair Loss In Women

  Emotional Impact of Hair Loss

As mentally unpleasant as hair loss is for a man, it is probably going to be significantly more so for a woman. Various scientific studies have demonstrated that ladies are more probable than men to endure mentally agonizing impacts because of balding, and that the mental impacts are probably going to be more extreme in women than in men.

Women more than men have a significant psychological investment in their appearance, and will respond more negatively to events such as hair loss that they view as changing their appearance for the worse. When she perceives that hair loss detracts from the appearance of her "crowning glory" a woman is likely to experience a loss of self-esteem.

Women who have hair loss frequently see that it is not considered seriously by family and friends. Women often have less of a emotion support network for hair loss than is available to men. Family and companions may sympathize with a man about male pattern baldness and even help him find humor in it. Hair loss in women is not viewed as "typical" despite it happening regularly in both genders. Hair loss should be recognized for the effect it has on a woman's self-esteem and psychological well-being.

Hair loss due to the most common causes, for example, hereditary female-pattern alopecia, can be effectively treated with hair transplantation or with minoxidil, the only hair restoration medicine to treat women with hair loss. Luckily, most instances of female pattern hair loss may be treated with a blend of minoxidil and surgery.

  How do I know I have a problem and it's not simply natural hair loss?

There are number of factors to explore and consider if you are experiencing hair loss. Firstly, genetics have a big impact. Just like men, women can inherit genes from the mother's or father's side, which leave them predisposed to hair loss. Read more about hair growth and hair loss here.

The Ludwig Classification Scale has been developed as a universal way to identify a woman's stage of hair loss.

Grade I: Mild (hair loss on the front and top of the scalp with relative preservation of the frontal hairline). In this stage, the hair loss is considered mild, and most women have difficulty noticing that the hair loss has occurred. Most of the time, the frontal hairline is unaffected.

Grade II: Moderate. Grade II hair loss is considered moderate, and women may notice more pronounced shedding, thinning, and a general decrease in hair volume centrally.

Grade III: Severe. In this stage, the hair loss is considered significant with hair thinning which is difficult to cover up.

However it is important to note that, unlike baldness in men, hair loss in women is almost always caused by an underlying medical condition so your first step should always be to seek the advice of your general practitioner or a hair loss specialist. They will be able to help determine whether there is an underlying problem or if you are just experiencing a natural change.

  Is it a normal part of getting older?

To some degree, yes. It is likely that as you grow older, you will experience some level of hair loss, but the extent of the problem will differ depending on your age, genetics, and lifestyle.

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is a change in hormone levels, so if you are post-menopausal then it is likely that you will encounter some natural thinning of the hair. Women with higher than normal levels of testosterone, such as women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, are also more likely to experience baldness.

  Are more women in their 30s and 40s experiencing hair loss?

It does not appear that hair loss in women has become more common but it's likely that there is now better awareness of the problem and more women are choosing to seek help. There is also greater awareness of the potential treatments available and the topic is perhaps discussed more openly now than ever before.

It is also clear that a greater number of women are suffering with hair loss because of over-styling and over-using hair extensions. Both of these can lead to permanent hair follicle damage and there are certainly a growing number of younger women suffering in this way.

  What medical conditions might be causing hair loss? If I get medical treatment will it stop?

Hair loss can be a symptom of a number of possible underlying medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, anaemia, hormonal disorders including oestrogen disorders, an ovarian tumour, or even lupus. Lupus is a skin and connective tissue disorder, which causes the body’s own immunity to fight against hair growth.

If you are diagnosed with one of these underlying medical issues (and the earlier the diagnosis, the better) then in many cases you will be able to seek treatment and the hair loss, as a result, can be reversed.

  Could something lacking in my diet be the cause?

Hair is made up of keratin, which is a natural protein. Ensuring that your diet is high in protein can therefore help to keep hair strong and looking shiny and healthy. Try to included meat, fish and eggs in your diet and you may gradually notice an improvement.

  What about my lifestyle? Could I be doing too much swimming or washing?

There is a common misconception that washing the hair frequently is bad for it. On the contrary; hair should be washed regularly to keep it clean and healthy. There are many myths regarding hair loss, such as shampooing or hats causing hair to fall out. Find out the truth behind these myths here. Evidence suggests that using an SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate - a common chemical found in shampoos) free shampoo, like aloe vera, can play a part in preventing hair loss. Regular conditioning is also good for the hair as it will make it softer, but try to make sure you apply it to the hair shafts and not the scalp.

Be careful when using hair dyes. If you wear hair extensions, try not to use them excessively, as they will pull the hair and weaken it. If you continue to cause stress to the hair by over-styling, braiding or using hair extensions, it could lead to traction alopecia, which is a medical condition caused by environmental damage done to the hair.

Try not to scratch your scalp with your fingernails either, as this will also traumatize the hair.

  Can chlorine/swimming/exercise have an impact?

Use of chlorinated water has been shown to affect hair. It is advisable to wear a swimming cap. There is no correlation between exercise and hair loss.

  Is there blood test I need, such as for a deficiency, that I could ask my doctor for?

It is best to see your general practitioner and get a detailed medical history and examination. In general, some of the tests that might be useful are full blood count, urea & electrolytes, thyroid function tests and tests for auto-antibodies to check for auto-immune disease.

  It's been so much worse since I have been laid off work - does stress play a part?

Stress can cause hair loss in different ways; in particular it can cause acid-free radicals to build up, which can contribute to gradual hair loss. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to changes in hormonal levels, which can also cause hair loss.

There is a medical condition called Telogen Effluvium, where accelerated hair loss is found to be a part of prolonged periods of stress. Also, conditions such as trichotillomania (pulling of the hair) are associated with stress. There have been a number of celebrities who have publicly discussed their battles with this condition in the past.

  How about supplements like Nourkin? Is it - or anything else such as Rogaine - effective?

Topical minoxidil (commonly known as the product ‘Rogaine’) can be prescribed in certain situations where the hair is thinning, and this can be an effective method of increasing the density of the hair. They also have a formula specifically for women. However you should seek medical advice before using any hair loss product.

If you’re trying to reduce the natural process of hair loss then a drug called Propecia could also help, and again, this can be prescribed by a doctor if it is deemed suitable for you. Read more about available medications here.

  I have small bald patches and have been diagnosed with alopecia areata - what do you recommend?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. The good news is that it is self-limiting and usually heals by itself. No medical attention is needed in most cases of alopecia areata.

  How else can I fix my thinning hair? Help?

If you are able to rule out any of the above underlying medical conditions, but you are still suffering hair loss, then there a number of steps you can take.

Decreasing the use of hair extensions, avoiding over-styling and not restricting the hair by wearing it in very tight braids will help. There are also certain products that can increase hair density but, again, you should always seek the advice of a doctor first before taking these.

If hair loss has reached the point where there is permanent damage, and where no underlying medical condition has been diagnosed, then surgical restoration may be an option.

The Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant procedures involve taking hair from the back of the head, where the hair is strong and plentiful, and replanting them in the thinning area to restore the natural looking, fuller head of hair. The treatment is carried out under local anesthetic and once the hair is transplanted it will grow normally. For cases where the hair has been lost permanently, a transplant is the only solution that will result in successful re-growth. See the hair transplant growth timeline here. You can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions here. Contact us now to have a consultation with one of our doctors in Korea, who will give you advice on the best way to proceed.

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