Female Hair Loss and Ways to Enhance Hair Growth
DO YOU KNOW WHY WOMEN EXPERIENCE HAIR LOSS? READ THIS WEEK’S BLOG TO LEARN WAYS TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING!
The hair, aside from the skin, is one of the first things people notice about you. Hair care is important for women because it is a way for them to convey their individual personalities and styles.
When women experience hair loss it can become quite distressing. Self-esteem is negatively affected which is directly linked to one’s self-confidence and self-worth.
Hair loss is commonly associated with men, but did you know that at present, twenty million American women are suffering from hair loss, baldness, or hair thinning?
What is hair loss?
Normally, people shed about 50 to 100% of their hair strands in a single day but new growth replaces them. When the natural hair balance is interrupted, more hair strands fall out than there is regrowth.
Hair loss does not only take place on the scalp. Sometimes the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of the body are also affected by this condition.
The small patches of baldness can lead to Alopecia Universalis, or total hair loss.
What are the signs of hair loss?
Progressive thinning of the hair on top of the head. Both men and women experience the most common type of hair loss. For men, the hairline recedes, while for women, the hairline broadens.
2. Handfuls of hair
You may experience hair falling out in clumps while washing or combing. This typically causes the hair to become thinner. Physical and emotional trauma may cause excessive hair fall.
3. Bald spots
You may experience pain or itchiness on your scalp before hair starts to fall in a circular or patchy pattern that is similar to the size of a coin.
4. Complete hair loss
Total hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body may be due to medications or medical treatments like chemotherapy.
Four Kinds of Alopecia
Alopecia may be caused by a genetic predisposition or environmental factors that stimulate the immune system to strike the hair follicles.
1. Androgenetic Alopecia
Genetics is the major cause of androgenetic alopecia. It is the main cause of hair loss among women ages twelve to forty years old.
2. Alopecia Areata
This hair loss suddenly occurs in the head or body, which usually starts with one or more round bald patches, sometimes these patches may connect or overlap.
3. Cicatricial Alopecia
This condition is permanent as the hair follicles are replaced with scar tissues after the hair falls off.
4. Traumatic Alopecia
This hair loss condition is triggered by hairstyling methods that cause the hair shafts to break. Common hairstyling methods that cause hair trauma include the use of hot irons, hot brushes, blow dryers, and chemicals such as dyes and bleach.
What are the common reasons for hair loss in women?
Permanent or temporary hair loss may be due to the following conditions:
Hormonal changes brought about by pregnancy
Some pregnant women may experience stress during the first trimester as the hormones dramatically change. Stress may cause more hair to shed than normal.
Hormonal changes brought about by childbirth
A significant drop in the levels of hormones happens after the baby arrives causing bigger clumps of hair to fall out Postpartum hair loss may start as soon as a woman gives birth and may continue until a year after. The peak usually happens in the fourth month, which is a normal process that women experience after childbirth.
Hormonal changes brought about by menopause
Hormonal imbalance is also the main reason for hair loss during perimenopause and menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are responsible for hair growth, so when these hormones decrease, hair growth becomes slower, and hair loss starts to happen. During perimenopause and menopause, there is an increase in the production of androgen. Androgen causes hair loss by shrinking the hair follicles. However, it can also trigger the growth of hair in other parts of the body.
Scalp infection, also known as ringworm of the scalp, is due to a fungus that penetrates deep into the hair follicle and causes itchiness and hair loss. This infection may cause the hair to break off at the surface of the scalp or just above the surface of the scalp.
Thyroid disease disrupts the production of T3 and T4 hormones which affects certain processes in the body such as hair growth. When hair falls out, the body is unable to replace it with new hair causing thinning of the hair not only on the scalp but also on other areas of the body, such as the eyebrows.
Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, damages the hair follicles which causes the hair to fall out in small patches.
Trichotillomania results in hair loss as this disorder involves the compulsive and recurring pulling of the hair. This unconscious action damages the hair follicles resulting in hair loss or permanent baldness, in some extreme cases. Seeking professional help at the onset of this disorder is necessary to minimize hair loss.
Disease that causes scarring such as Lichen planopilaris
Lichen planopilaris is an inflammatory disease that involves the lymphatic damage of the hair follicles which causes scaling and baldness.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system attacks and damages tissues and organs including the skin and the scalp. Roughly 50% of Lupus patients experience temporary hair loss which sometimes become permanent.
Medications used to treat cancers, hypertension, arthritis, depression, and heart conditions
Certain drugs used to treat such diseases can interfere with the normal cycle of hair growth causing hair loss or baldness.
Physical and emotional shock such as trauma brought about by the death of a loved one, extreme weight loss, or high fever
As a defense mechanism to the trauma, the body reacts by shutting down hair production activities, putting the hair follicles into a dormant phase.
What can I do to achieve healthier and thicker hair?
Here are some ways that may support the growth and health of your hair.
1. Scalp massage
A study conducted in Japan found that regular scalp massage could improve the thickness of the hair. The study involved men who had scalp massages for 24 weeks. Although there is no effect on their hair growth, there was a substantial increase in the thickness of the hair.
Massage stimulates blood circulation that enables more supply of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles making the hair stronger and healthier.
2. Avoid a restrictive diet
A restrictive diet involves eliminating certain food groups and often it involves cutting out foods that contain high calories as part of a weight loss program. Restrictive dieting significantly diminishes nutrients that are necessary to support healthy hair.
3. Enhance your nutrient profile
There are specific vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals that play essential roles in supporting hair growth. The essential nutrients include biotin, vitamins C, D, and E, zinc, iron, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
A review of the use of biotin for hair loss found that 18 reported cases of patients who were given biotin supplements manifested clinical progress in nail and hair health.
4. Consume sufficient amounts of protein
A restrictive diet will hinder the optimal growth of the hair and may cause shedding. A well-balanced diet with sufficient amounts of protein, ideally a minimum of 50 grams a day, is necessary in supporting hair health.
5. Stimulate hair follicles with essential oils
Essential oils are popular for their dramatic properties and they are also beneficial for overall health. Some essential oils may support hair health. They can boost hair growth, strength and add shine and luster to the hair.
Lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, rosemary, and tea tree essentials oils have properties that promote hair growth and hair thickness. A few drops may be added to a bottle of shampoo or conditioner or can be diluted with a carrier oil for scalp massage.
When using essential oils to treat the scalp, it is always best to do a patch test to know if your scalp can tolerate it. Using essential oils topically to promote hair health should only be used by older teens and adults.
6. Avoid hair styling with heat
Heat from hair styling tools such as hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners can cause severe hair damage and breakage.
Decreasing the amount of heat and limiting how often you use these heated hair styling tools can help lessen hair damage. Better yet, avoid completely styling your hair with these heated tools.
7. Ease up on hair dyes
Hair dyes contain ammonia and hydrogen peroxide which may weaken the hair shaft and cause hair breakage and hair loss. To avoid the harmful chemicals opt for plant-based dyes such as henna.
8. Quit smoking
There is a study published in the archives of dermatology that found that despite family history, people who smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day are twice as likely to experience hair loss compared to non-smokers.
9. Manage your stress
Mindfulness and self-care techniques such as exercise, yoga, and meditation are excellent ways to manage stress.
Some researchers are looking into the effects of yoga and meditation in managing blood sugar and enhancing circulation to promote healthy hair growth.
Hair loss may be a temporary condition but it could also be an indication of a more severe condition. It is always best to consult a doctor to identify the causes and possible treatments.
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