Guide to Hair Loss
‘Finding a solution to your hair loss is nothing to do with vanity, it is about what’s going to make you look and feel better within yourself and to help restore your self-confidence.’ Laura Harris, consultant at Snips Wigs.
Hair loss is not just confined to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, mistakenly thought to be strictly a male problem, actually 1 in 3 women today experience some level of hair loss at some point in their lives. There are many different causes of hair loss, but it does not matter how much hair the individual has lost, for women it can be absolutely devastating, it can effect self-image, emotional well-being and it can also affect their day-to-day life, that can have a detrimental effect on their personal, home and work life.
Some women come in to us totally devastated by the reaction they received, treating the issue of women’s hair loss as if it were nonexistent, that it is not life threatening, its no big deal or you’ll just have to live with it. Of course they don’t seem to realize is that the psychological damage caused by hair loss and feeling unattractive can be just as devastating as any serious disease, and in fact, can take an emotional toll that directly affects your physical health.
But we are here to listen and help you.
Beyond the aesthetic value that hair can add to a woman’s appearance, it can speak volumes about her overall health. Your hair can tell signs of problems happening within. When the body is facing crises it can lead to a stunted hair growth that allows your body room to direct energy to other parts. This is why the issue of hair loss should not be taken lightly or left up to topical products.
Your hair also could be saying something about your health. Hormonal imbalance is very common in women and can be one of the main issues surrounding hair loss. It is commonly experienced in women during menopause, per menopause, pregnancy, or with endocrine disorder like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), any women are venerable to the condition as diet and lifestyle has a major impact on hormone levels.
Other common causes of hormonal imbalance related hair loss.
- Progesterone and estrogens levels out of whack
- Overproduction of male hormones
- Under or over performing thyroid
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Medications and the Pill
(Always consult with your GP. They will do all relevant testing.)
To understand and to identify all the different types of hair loss, we have compiled a list starting with the most common causes of hair loss that we see and help find solutions for every day.
Here are the most common causes of hair loss:
Female pattern baldness
Female pattern baldness is very common and manly effects women over 40. Unlike male pattern baldness, with female pattern baldness the hair thins mainly on top and crown of the scalp. It usually starts with a widening through the centre hair part. The front hairline remains unaffected except for normal recession, which happens to everyone as time passes. The hair loss rarely progresses to total or near baldness, as it may in men. Female pattern baldness may be related to aging and changes in the levels of androgens (male hormone) and or the menopause.
This chart shows the different grades of hair loss in women.
Rapid hair loss can be an early sign of a thyroid problem. In addition to thinning and shedding, your hair can become coarse, dry and easily tangled. Unfortunately with some medications for thyroid problem, excessive or prolonged hair loss is a known side effect.
The thyroid is a gland that regulates your metabolism. Your thyroid can be affected by many conditions; these include, but are not limited to, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy and menopause. Thyroid problems can also be caused by genetic and/or part of an underlying condition. Thyroid function is important to your hair as it helps to control the production of proteins and also your body’s use of oxygen. Having either hypothyroid (low) or a hyperthyroid (high) can cause hair loss, hair thinning or reduced hair growth and when severe, hypothyroid causes hair loss in up to 50% of cases.
Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body goes through numerous physical changes as it adjusts to fluctuating hormone levels. Many women have unpleasant symptoms during menopause, and unfortunately for many, hair loss is one of the side effects.
Research suggests that hair loss during menopause is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head. In some cases, however, these hormones can cause more hair to grow on the face. This is why some menopausal women develop facial “peach fuzz” and small sprouts of hair on the chin.
Fifty is the average age for menopause, but changes to your hair can begin long before then. Nobody over 40 has the same volume of hair as they had in there twenties, but menopause is an extra and accelerated cause. The pattern of menopausal hair thinning is similar to the early stages of Female Pattern Baldness
Pregnancy and hair loss
Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, as it affects somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary. In general, very few hairs are shed during pregnancy, so your hair will often be much thicker and fuller towards the middle and end of your pregnancy. This is because raised oestrogen levels keep your hair in the growing (anagen) phase for longer than usual. However, post-partum hair loss can occur a few months after giving birth due to oestrogen levels dropping back to normal.
Medication & Hair Loss
The most common overlooked reason for hair loss is the use of medications, drugs and also the overuse of vitamin and or mineral supplements. The difficulty of predicting the effect that a specific drug will have on your hair is that because each individual reactions to medications is different and may not have the same effect on everybody. If you are prescribed a drug that lists hair loss as a possible side effect, don’t panic, it may only have a slight effect on hair fall.
Below are some medicines are thought to cause hair loss.
(I like to let everyone know that I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice, what I write is only my opinion based on my own experience, experience of others and research on the subject.)
- Acne medications
- Antibiotics and antifungal medications
- Oral contraceptives
- Blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- Cholesterol -lowering medications
- Immunosuppressant medications
- Chemotherapy medications
- Epilepsy medications (anticonvulsants)
- High blood pressure medications (anti-hypertensives)
- Hormone replacement therapy – Oestrogen or progesterone for women.
- Thyroid medications
(Please note that every one reacts differently. Not every one will experience hair thinning or hair loss).
Physical and Emotion Stress
Surgeries, severe illness and emotional stress can cause hair loss. The body simply shuts down production of hair during periods of stress since it is not necessary for survival and instead devotes its energies towards repairing vital body structures. In many cases there is a three-month delay between the actual event and the onset of hair loss. Furthermore, there may be another three-month delay prior to the return of noticeable hair growth. This then means that the total hair loss and re growth cycle can last 6 months or possibly longer when induced by physical or emotional stress.
Traction Alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by constant pulling on the hair from its follicles. It is most commonly seen in women and young girls who wear tight braids and hair extensions, but also occurs in those who consistently wear their hair pulled back tightly from their scalp.
There is a huge increase of traction alopecia due to women and young girls consistently wearing hair extensions and top hairpieces. The constant pulling on their hair can result in hair breakage and or bald spots where the extensions or top hairpieces have been applied. At first, traction alopecia from hair extensions and or top hair pieces is reversible, this can only take place by allowing time for your hair to recover, this can only happen by refraining to use extensions and or top hair pieces until new hair recovers. However, over time irreversible damage can be done if the hair starts to grow back and is pulled out again. This happens because the constant pulling of the hair eventually weakens the growth of the new hair and can cause your hair to grow back finer and shorter. In severe instance, the follicle can become permanently scarred so that hairs are not able to grow back at all.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are more susceptible to female pattern baldness. PCOS can cause hyperandrogenism – where your body produces too many androgens (male hormone). Androgens are naturally found in all women.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia is a primary cicatricial alopecia and is most common in middle aged or older women. As the name suggests, it is a scarring alopecia that starts at the hairline and progresses towards the back of the head. Unfortunately, as with the other scarring alopecias, there is no successful treatment for area where scarring has already occurred.
Trichotillomania: Pulling or twisting hair out
Trichotillomania is an impulse – control disorder. This means it is a psychological condition where you are unable to stop yourself carrying out a particular action. You will feel an intense urge to pull your hair out and growing tension until you do. After pulling your hair out, you will fell a sense of relief. Some see trichotillomania as a type of addiction: the more your pull your hair out, the more addicted you become to this. It is advised to seek professional help starting with your GP, who can refer you on to a specialist.
We hope that we have given you an in site to all the different types of hair loss. The good news is that there are solutions for hair loss.
We are very aware how difficult and nerve wreaking it is to pick up that phone to make an appointment. We would like to reassure you that you would be in good hands from the first step into Snips Wigs to heading out the door with a smile on your face. We look forward to seeing you.