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Female hair Loss
Female hair loss is a disturbing issue for more than 30 million women in the United States. Today, unlike past generations, this is no longer a condition only afflicting middle aged to older women. For starters, Younger women in their young teens and mid-twenties are confronted with higher levels of stress and poorer eating habits than in previous generations, consequently suffering from excessive hair loss and thinning. “Stress” increases the levels of testosterone, which is converted into DHT, degrading or destroying the hair follicle and its chance to grow. With over 30 million women in the United States suffer from hair loss. Approximately 30% of all women will experience hair loss in varying degrees sometime during their lifetime.
Women usually notice the first indication of hair loss in their 20’s to early 40’s. Pre-menopause and menopause is usually when female hair loss becomes most apparent.
Current evidence suggests that Alopecia Areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity, a misguided immune system that tends to attack its own body. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In Alopecia Areata, for unknown reasons, the bodies own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. In some cases, without any treatment, it can go into remission at any time and resolve itself. Around 50% of people who have Alopecia Areata will report that their hair re-grows naturally. This is because there is not a total loss of the hair follicle, the T cells stop hair growth but they don’t actually destroy the follicle. Hair growth may spontaneously restart after a few months to a year. Unfortunately, in some cases it can result in Alopecia Totalis, which leads to total hair loss, or Alopecia Universalis, which would include the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. Although Alopecia Areata is not a life threatening condition, is can disrupt the lives of many people of all ages and genders, especially women and young girls.
CAUSES OF FEMALE HAIR LOSS (Alopecia):
Chemotherapy/Radiation: If your hair falls out due to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, once the treatment has been finalized, the hair that has been lost usually grows back. Hair growth may take some time to begin, but by the 6th month of finishing the chemotherapy treatment, you should notice that you have a full head of hair. This hair may be different than it was before the treatment in many ways; it may be thinner, thicker, and curlier, have a different color, or may have no difference at all. Having radiotherapy treatment on the head will always cause hair loss in the area the beams target, and possible on the opposite end of the area that the beam targets also. It may take 6 months for the hair to grow back, and when it does there is a chance that it may grow back patchy. For the unfortunate few, there is a chance that the hair may not grow back at all.
After finishing chemotherapy and/or radiation, hair loss can be devastating, and people wish to resume normality as soon as possible. But hair usually grows as a slower pace than is desirable, and for those who still have to continue to take medication, may experience side effects of thinning hair.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or Hypothyroidism (myxedema) may result in thinning hair, large amounts of hair falling out when washing it, changes in the hairs texture (sometimes dry, coarse, tangled) once you are diagnosed and properly treated the side effects (like hair loss) usually stop.
Psoriasis: Hair loss is common when the psoriasis occurs on the scalp, resulting in scaly patches. Re-growth typically occurs after the condition is under control.
Bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections, and seborrhea (dandruff) may be associated with hair loss. With treatment, depending on time and severity and damage, hair may start to grow back, usually slow.
Trichotillomania is a condition that is classed as an impulse control disorder. It is an uncontrollable urge to pull out one’s own hair which leads to noticeable hair loss. For many sufferers of Trichotillomania, the condition is often kept hidden and unreported, although it is more common than is assumed. Close to 2% of the population suffer from Trichotillomania at some stage of their lives, and for most of these people, the condition becomes constant. The impact of Trichotillomania on people’s private and social lives is huge. It has been found that having Trichotillomania can induce feelings of shame, isolation, and low self-esteem.
Alopecia Areata is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles camera.gif, which is where hair growth begins. The damage to the follicle is usually not permanent. Experts do not know why the immune system attacks the follicles. Alopecia Areata is most common in people younger than 20, but children and adults of any age may be affected. Women and men are affected equally. And accidents affect millions of men, women, and children’s daily lives. The re-growth depends on individual circumstances, time and follicle damage.
Traction Alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair. This commonly results from the sufferer frequently wearing their hair in a particularly tight ponytail, pigtails, or braids. pigtails, ponytails (stress on your hairline) or tight hair rollers can initiate excessive hair loss.
Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL):
This is the most common type of hair loss. This usually occurs at the top and front of the head, and leads to general thinning of hair around the hairline, temples and crown. In time, more and more of the scalp becomes visible; however it rarely leads to full baldness. FPHL is usually hereditary and it difficult to treat once it has begun.
Alkaline hair Chemical treatments, such as permanent waves, hair tints and bleaches weaken the hair causing hair breakage and hair loss in some situations. Re-growth from chemicals is good, but slow. If the follicle has been damaged from too much stress for too long, re-growth is not normally seen if aware, and not abused all of these services are used and recommended daily in salons.
Dandruff Scalp (seborrhea), Reddish Scalp, Oily Scalp, (Clogging the oil glands) An Irritated Scalp and Genetics disorders.
There are a wide range of prescription and OTC drugs that may cause hair loss: chemotherapy (cholesterol medications, antidepressants, pain killers, blood pressure.
Physical or Emotional Stress:
Telogen Effluvium - physical or emotional stress converts antigen (growing) hair into the telogen (dormant) phase, causing an onset of significant hair loss, often in handfuls. Telogen Effluvium may last for months but usually is reversible. Telogen Effluvium often occurs after giving birth. Blood thinners and birth control pills are also culprits. Some Street drugs cause hair loss throughout the entire scalp. Hair loss from drugs can be a slow processes.
Extreme diets, bulimia or anorexia nervosa will often result in excessive hair loss as well as dry, brittle unhealthy hair. Proteins, iron copper, B-vitamins, vitamin A- when intake is within healthy levels, are all important nutrients for healthy hair growth. Sometimes re-growth is possible with the replacement of vital nutrition happens quickly. Long term neglect of nutrition will cause irreversible damage to the follicle.
Telogen Effluvium often occurs after giving birth. This can interrupt the natural cycle of hair growth and once the woman delivers her child, there is a dramatic drop in estrogen and other hormone levels. Many women report significant hair loss during this period of time, sometimes for up to a year.
THINGS TO AVOID:
- Excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages
- Poor eating habits
- Smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day
- Living a stressful life;
- Shampooing only once or twice per week
- Apply products to an unclean scalp
- A build-up of hair care products and topical lotions
- Tight pulling at the hair line
- Plastic brushes (use 100% boar hair)
- A dormant scalp, stimulate it! Remind it to grow - brush your scalp! (100% Boar hair brush only) It’s not only stimulating and cleansing to your scalp, but boar spreads your natural oils throughout the hair. Plastic brushes break through the hair not helping the scalp.
Keeping in mind so far the most common cause of female hair loss is due to fluctuating estrogen. We are seeing it in all ages with varying degrees of hair loss. Due to the devastating affects emotionally and psychologically, many health specialists will prescribe pharmaceutical or natural estrogen to counter the increased exposure to testosterone if hormonally related. The use of Estrogen prevents testosterone from converting to DHT (the primary cause of female hair loss).
Telogen effluvium (TE) is probably the second most common form of hair loss dermatologists see. It is a poorly defined condition; very little research has been done to understand TE. In essence though, TE happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. If the number of hair follicles producing hair drops significantly for any reason during the resting, or telogen phase, there will be a significant increase in dormant, telogen stage hair follicles. The result is shedding, or TE hair loss.
TE appears as a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp, which may not be even all over. It can be a bit more severe in some areas of the scalp than others. Most often, the hair on top of the scalp thins more than it does at the sides and back of the scalp. There is usually no hair line recession, except in a few rare chronic cases.
There are three basic ways TE can develop.
1. There might be an environmental insult that "shocks" the growing hair follicles so much that they decide to go into a resting state for a while. This results in an increase in hair shedding and a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp.
2. The second form of TE develops more slowly and persists longer. The hair follicles may not all suddenly shed their hair fibers and enter a resting telogen state.
3. In a third type of TE, the hair follicles do not stay in a resting state but rather cycle through truncated growth cycles. When this happens, the individual experiences thin scalp hair and persistent shedding of short, thin hair fibers.
What are the trigger factors for TE? The short answer is many and varied. Classic short-term TE often happens to women soon after giving birth. Called postpartum alopecia, the sudden change in hormone levels at birth is such a shock to the hair follicles that they shut down for a while. There may be some significant hair shedding, but most women regrow their hair quickly.
Similarly, vaccinations, crash dieting, physical trauma such as being in a car crash, and having surgery can sometimes be a shock to the system and a proportion of scalp hair follicles go into hibernation. As the environmental insult passes and the body recovers, the TE subsides and there is new hair growth. Some drugs may also induce TE, especially antidepressants. Often a switch to a different drug resolves the issue. Arguably, the two most common problems are chronic stress and diet deficiency.