Health

Decoding female hair loss and thinning

It's not only men who lose their hair or go thin on top - it happens to some women, especially as we get older. Julie Lardner explains the tips, tricks and treatments available to help (and they worked for her).

By Julie Lardner

Understanding hair loss and thinning hair for women

For many women, the thought of hair loss and thinning hair is horrifying. It can trigger fear and anxiety, and needs to be dealt with sensitively.

For older women, factors such as hormonal changes, genetics, nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and stress can all be culprits behind thinning tresses.

Identifying the specific type of hair loss is the best way to work out how to manage and treat it. Common types include:

Telogen Effluvium:

Characterised by rapid hair shedding, often triggered by stress, illness, or nutritional deficiencies.

Alopecia Areata:

An autoimmune disease causing sudden bald patches on the scalp.

Androgenic Alopecia:

Also known as male or female pattern baldness, this genetic condition leads to progressive hair thinning and loss.

Hair loss can also be associated with underlying health issues, so it's important to see a doctor or dermatologist for a diagnosis and treatment.

Women can suffer hair loss and thinning as they get older.

Other primary factors contributing to hair loss can be:

Hormonal changes:

The hormonal fluctuations associated with ageing, including menopause, can lead to hair thinning and loss due to shifts in oestrogen and progesterone levels affecting the hair growth cycle.

Thyroid dysfunctions:

Conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can disrupt hair growth as a result of imbalances in thyroid hormones.

Nutritional deficiencies:

Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, such as iron, biotin, and vitamins, can result in fragile and brittle hair, impacting overall health.

Autoimmune diseases:

Conditions like alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder, lead to hair loss when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles.

Illness or viruses:

The physical stress of an illness or viral infection often triggers hair loss as a secondary response of the body.

Stress:

Chronic stress and emotional turmoil can contribute to hair loss, particularly in Telogen Effluvium, which increases rapid hair shedding.

Genetics:

Family history often plays a significant role, with certain genetic factors potentially predisposing individuals to various types of hair loss.

Solutions for boosting hair growth

Minoxidil:

An over-the-counter hair loss solution. It was initially developed as a treatment for hypertension (high blood pressure). Surprisingly, it was discovered to effectively stimulate hair regrowth.

Even though Minoxidil can effectively combat hair loss and promote new growth, its efficacy varies based on the underlying cause and type of hair loss you're dealing with.

Despite being available without a prescription, Minoxidil is a potent medication. Before commencing, please consult your healthcare provider, where they can discuss any possible side effects.

Nutritional support:

If you're worried about thinning or loss of hair, your diet plays a pivotal role and dietary deficiencies can impact hair health.

Many supplements for hair health include Biotin (Vitamin B7), Zinc, Silica, Iron, Vitamin C, and Milk Thistle. These supplements can address nutritional deficiencies and support your hair, skin, and nails.

Your healthcare provider can offer additional advice and identify specific deficiencies with a simple blood test.

Supplementation can help with hair thinning if dietary intake is inadequate.
Haircare products:

Hair care products play a vital role in maintaining hair and scalp health. In particular, the brand Nioxin is a specialised range for temporary hair loss and thinning that offers a three-step system comprising a cleansing shampoo, conditioner, and scalp treatment.

Nioxin's formulation includes:
• The active ingredient is Minoxidil.
• Essential B vitamins (Thiamine, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, Folic acid, and Cyano-cobalamin).
• Salicylic acid for scalp health.

Nioxin offers different intensities tailored to your level of hair loss and thinning.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):

During menopause, hormonal changes cause hair follicles to shrink, leading to thinner and more brittle hair. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) helps balance the hormones lost during menopause, promoting healthier hair follicles. While not a universal solution, discussing HRT with your healthcare provider is a valuable option.

LED Light therapy:

LED (Light-Emitting Diode) light therapy is a technology that shows promise in effectively treating hereditary and menopause-related hair loss with minimal side effects. Discuss with your doctor if LED light therapy is right for you. This therapy has been shown to effectively treat hereditary and menopause-related hair loss with minimal side effects.

LED light therapy has shown some promising results for hair loss in both men and women - but see a doctor or healthcare professional to make sure you get the right treatment for your diagnosis.

A final note on female hair loss

This story is personal; when I entered my late 50s, the prospect of hair loss became a reality. Could this be happening to me? Once I began to notice unusually rapid hair shedding and that I may have a hair loss problem, I quickly took steps to find solutions.

I reached out to a healthcare professional, and with their advice, I followed the tips we've covered today. The good news? Finding your way back to healthy, lustrous locks is possible at any age.

The information on this page is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional healthcare provider.

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