Understanding Female Hair Loss
common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenetic
alopecia, also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness.
This is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top and
sides of the head. It affects approximately one-third of all
susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after
menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal
hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day.
Fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs
when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed
exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from
either parents side of the family.
There are two different
types of hair loss, medically known as anagen effluvium and
Telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is generally due to
internally administered medications, such as chemotherapy
agents, that poison the growing hair follicle. Telogen
effluvium, is due to an increased number of hair follicles
entering the resting stage.
The most common causes of
telogen effluvium are:
surgery, illness, anemia, rapid weight change.
Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family
Medications: High doses of Vitamin A, Blood pressure and
Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills,
When the above causes of
telogen effluvium are reversed or altered you should see the
return of normal hair growth.
Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. Franchised diet
programs which are designed or administered under the
direction of a physician with prescribed meals, dietary
supplements and vitamin ingestion have become popular.
Sometimes the client is told that vitamins are a necessary
part of the program to prevent hair loss associated with
dieting. From a dermatologists's standpoint, however, the
vitamins cannot prevent hair loss associated with rapid,
significant weight loss. Furthermore, many of these
supplements are high in vitamin A which can magnify the hair
PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL
Surgeries, severe illnesses 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 toward 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 regrowth. This then means that
the total hair loss and regrowth cycle can last 6 months or
possibly longer when induced by physical or emotional
stress. There are some health conditions which may go
undetected that can contribute to hair loss. These include
anemia or low blood count and thyroid abnormalities. Both of
these conditions can be detected by a simple, inexpensive
Hormonal changes are a common cause of female hair loss.
Many women do not realize that hair loss can occur after
pregnancy or following discontinuation of birth control
pills. It is important to remember that the hair loss may be
delayed by three months following the hormonal change and
another three months will be required for new growth to be
MYTHS RELATED TO HAIR
• Frequent shampooing
contributes to hair loss.
• Hats and wigs cause hair loss.
• 100 strokes of the hair brush daily will create
• Permanent hair loss is caused by perms, colors and
other cosmetic treatments.
• Women are expected to develop significant hair loss if
they are healthy.
• Shaving one's head will cause the hair to grow back
• Standing on one's head will cause increased
circulation and thereby stimulate hair growth!
• Dandruff causes permanent hair loss.
• There are cosmetic products that will cause the hair
to grow thicker and faster.
• Stress causes permanent hair loss.
• Hair loss does not occur in the late teens or early
• Hair loss affects only intellectuals.
• There is a cure for androgenetic Alopecia.
These are only a few of
the common myths heard by physicians and other hair loss
specialists on a daily basis. The AHLC suggests that you
first have your hair loss diagnosed by a competent
dermatologist who sees hair loss patients on a regular
basis. Once you know the diagnosis you will have a better
understanding of exactly which treatment option may be best
Understanding Male Hair Loss
Dating as far back as
history will take us, baldness has been a part of the aging
process that many men fear the most. Before Rogaine, hair
transplants and hair additions, men coped in various ways
from magic ointments to the styling of their hair. Julius
Caesar grew his hair long in the back and combed it all
forward. Napoleon did the same thing. Somehow we often
disregard history and the fact that this has been an age old
condition. We can't imagine or accept the fact that there is
not a cure.
Understanding the cause
of male pattern hair loss may better indicate exactly why it
presently has no cure.
ALOPECIA - the modem medical term for either male or
female pattern hair loss - can be broken down in two
consisting of ANDROGEN (Any of the various hormones that
control the appearance and development of masculine
characteristics such as testosterone). And GENETIC--the
inheritance of genes from either the mother or the
father's side of the family. Add AGE, which when coupled
with genetics, represents a time clock that will signal
the hair follicle to produce an enzyme named 5 alpha
reductase. When the testosterone present in the follicle
combines with the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, it produces
dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hair follicle receptors are
sensitive to DHT and thereby start the process of male
or female pattern hair loss.
meaning hair loss, of which there are many types.
scientists are working against aging, hormones and
genetics. This is no easy task. Add the fact that male
or female pattern hair loss is not life threatening, and
it is easy to see why many physicians do not view hair
loss as a priority in scientific research.
What is working for
you in terms of research is that large pharmaceutical
firms now know that a cure for hair loss could mean a
fortune in revenue for their companies and stockholders.
This is fuel enough and the race HAS begun.
Although we may not
see a cure in our lifetime, it is possible. Science is
closer to understanding hair loss due to many recent
advancements. To say the cure is around the corner would
only be speculation but hope certainly is alive.
Since there are other causes of hair loss, it is
advisable to consult with a dermatologist who is
competent and experienced with diagnosing hair loss.
Confirming the type of hair loss you have will make it
possible for you to know which treatment options may be
best for you.
• Alopecia areata:
Generally thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Causes
"patchy" hair loss, often in small circular areas in
different areas of the scalp.
• Alopecia totalis: Total hair loss of the scalp, (an
advanced form of alopecia areata).
• Alopecia universalis: Hair loss of the entire body,
(also an advanced form of alopecia areata).
• Traction alopecia: Hair loss caused by physical stress
and tension on the hair such as prolonged use of hair
weaving, corn rows etc. Done too tightly on weak hair
these can cause permanent hair loss.
• Telogen effiuvium: (usually temporary hair loss)
Caused by Physical stress, emotional stress, thyroid
abnormalities, medications and hormonal causes normally
associated with females.
• Anagen effiuvium: Generally due to internally
administered medications, such as chemotherapy agents,
that poison the growing hair follicle.
All of these represent
only a few of the different types of hair loss. Androgenetic
alopecia represents close to 95% of all hair loss however.
Chemotherapy Related Hair Loss
Chemotherapy consists of
the administration of drugs that destroy rapidly reproducing
cancer cells. Cancer cells are some of the most rapidly
reproducing cells in the body, but other cells, such as
those which contribute to the formation of hair shafts and
nails, are also rapidly reproducing. Unfortunately, while
chemotherapy drugs preferentially destroy cancer cells, the
drugs also can destroy those cells responsible for normal
growth of hair and nails. Cancer patients sometimes shed the
hair and nails during treatment. Chemotherapy drugs are
poisonous to the cells of the hair root responsible for hair
shaft formation. Usually, the hair is lost rapidly in large
quantities during treatment.
NO HAIR GROWTH
STIMULANTS, SHAMPOOS, CONDITIONERS OR OTHER COSMETIC
TREATMENTS CAN PREVENT OR RETARD THE HAIR LOSS.
THE GOOD NEWS, however,
is that once chemotherapy is completed, the hair usually
HOW AND WHEN HAIR
Adequate hair growth may take six months to one year.
• Returning hair may
be different from the hair that was lost. Due to the
absence or alteration of pigment the hair may grow back
white, gray or a different color. Eventually, as the
pigment cells return to normal, the original color
• It is common for
the new hair returning to be finer in texture initially,
but like color, the texture should return to its
original thickness. It is sometimes difficult to be
patient, but as the body is returning to normal and
getting over the significant insult, time is a necessary
HAIR CARE TIPS FOR NEW
1. Shampoo hair twice
weekly with a mild shampoo such as those intended for
dry or damaged hair.
2. The scalp should also be thoroughly massaged to
remove any scale.
3. Follow shampoo with a conditioner for fine or limp
4. Avoid high heat from blow dryers to the hair and
5. Keep hairstyling to a minimum due to the new hair
being prone to breakage. Brushing, combing, hair pins
and curling should all be minimized. Curling appliances
should be avoided as the scalp is very tender following
6. Hair styling aids such as mousse, hair spray, hair
spritz, styling gel and sculpturing gel may be used in
moderation. It is best to select products with normal to
light holding ability as the high hold products may not
be completely removed with mild shampoos. Hair styling
aids can build up on the hair shaft resulting in
dullness and possibly scalp disease.
CHEMICAL CURLING OR
Chemical treatment of the hair is best avoided until the
hair is at least three inches long. It is difficult to get
nice curls if the hair is much shorter even with a healthy
head of hair. For best results use a mild body wave with
short processing time.
The hair should be
wrapped loosely on the largest size curling rod possible.
Looser curls will be less damaging to the recovering hair
shaft, and will thus minimize hair shaft breakage.
WARNING! Many patients cannot tolerate the permanent
wave solution on their scalp for some times up to one year
following chemotherapy. This extreme sensitivity of the
scalp is not unusual during the regrowth period. In such
cases permanents should not be attempted.
Hair coloring may also be irritating to the sensitive scalp
and should be avoided until the scalp sensation returns to
normal. Once the scalp is healed, the hair may be colored.
COLORINGS ARE THE MOST DAMAGING TO THE HAIR SHAFT and
should be minimized in favor of semi-permanent hair
colorings which are gradually washed away with four to six
BLEACHING to lighten the
hair color should not be attempted at this time.
Additionally, the hair should be altered only 3 shades from
its regrowth color as more drastic color changes could
increase hair shaft breakage.
The period of time
following chemotherapy treatment is a time of healing and
rebuilding for the body. Hair growth will gradually return,
and with time most patients regain a healthy head of hair.
Following some of the enclosed hair care tips will insure
that the regrown hair looks and feels its very best!
A word of caution to parents with children undergoing
chemotherapy. The absence of hair can be used in a positive
manner. It can signal to others “handle with care.” While
undergoing chemotherapy the child has a low blood count and
can be bruised easily.
The insistence of
parents, although well meaning, for a child to wear a wig or
prosthesis can signal the message “YOU’RE NOT O.K. THE WAY
YOU ARE!” A child should have all of the options but the
choice should be his or hers. Hugs and tender loving care
along with your physician’s suggestions for care are all
that is necessary from the parents.
Prepared for the
American Hair Loss Council by Zoe Draelos, M.D. and Mike
Mahoney, AHLC Executive Director.
All of our services are
provided with careful consideration for your individual
needs and expectations in a totally discreet and absolutely
confidential clinical setting. At HRJ Hair Solutions in
Lima, Ohio, we offer complimentary private consultations to
help you determine which treatment option is best for your
Live life the way you
want, without embarrassment, without being self-conscious
and with a full head of hair again. Take the first step to a
new you. Schedule your complimentary, no-obligation
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