Symptoms of Hair Loss
- Large chunks of hair appearing in brush or comb
- Hair falling out in clumps in shower/bath
- Noticeably thinning hair on front, side and top of head
- Red, oily and itchy scalp
- Bald patches
Before menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels are able to keep the DHT levels down. During and after menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels rapidly decline, thus allowing the levels of DHT to rise. The DHT attaches to the hair follicles and obstructs them until the hairs become thinner and weaker. Depending on the woman, hair loss can be a sudden or gradual loss and many experience drier and more brittle hair.
While there are a myriad of factors that can lead to abnormal hair loss, 50% of the population experience normal hair loss by the time they reach 50. People who notice their hair shedding in large amounts after combing or brushing, or whose hair becomes thinner or falls out should consult a dermatologist. Fortunately, temporary hair loss can be easy to fix when its cause is identified and managed properly.
What is Hair Loss?
|Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a disease that affects the hair follicles, which are part of the skin from which the hairs grow.
Each hair grows in cycles that are repeated approximately each year – the hair grows, rests and then falls out. Before one can understand hair loss, it is crucial to understand the two different structures of hair – the follicle, which resides in the skin, and the shaft, which is visible above the scalp.
Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a disease that affects the hair follicles, which are part of the skin from which the hairs grow.
Each hair grows in cycles that are repeated approximately each year – the hair grows, rests and then falls out. Before one can understand hair loss, it is crucial to understand the two different structures of hair – the follicle, which resides in the skin, and the shaft, which is visible above the scalp. The hair follicle is a tunnel-like segment that extends down into the dermis, containing several layers. The hair shaft is made of a form of protein known as keratin, the same protein that is actually found in one’s fingernails, toenails and outer layer of skin.
Hair remains on the head for a phase that lasts between two to six years, also known as anagen. The resting phase is known as telogen and lasts for around three months. At the end of the resting phase, the hair begins to shed. Shedding anywhere from 50-100 hairs a day is typical because the lost hairs are replaced by news hairs from the same follicle located just beneath the skin’s surface. However, many perimenopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women will experience greater hair loss than those who haven’t undergone menopause for a wide variety of reasons.
Causes of Hair Loss
The hormonal imbalance is the most common reason for female hair loss and the thinning of hair in women. Estrogen is the hormone that women depend on to keep their hair growing on their heads. Estrogens help hair grow faster and allow the hair to stay on the head for the longest duration possible. The lower levels of estrogen in your body creates a drastic change in your body’s hormone levels and makes way for the male hormone, known as testosterone.
Testosterone is the main hormone that triggers hair loss. It shrinks the hair follicles on the head, but causes an increase of production of hair on the face. All women have the male hormone testosterone in their bodies which encourage hair growth, but there is another hormone that is derived from testosterone. This hormone, known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), keeps hair from growing on certain parts of your body, including one’s head. Due to the fluctuating hormone levels in one’s body during menopause, the levels of DHT will rise. The DHT attaches to the hair follicles and obstructs them until the hairs become thinner and weaker. Depending on the woman, hair loss can be a sudden or gradual loss and many experience drier and more brittle hair.
- Thyroid Disease
- Diets Lacking Protein
- Giving Birth
- Vigorous Brushing of Hair
- Alopecia Areata
- Androgenic Alopecia
- Iron Deficiency
- Birth Control Pills
- Tight Hair Styles
When to Seek a Doctor
If you are experiencing excessive hair loss, it is advised to see your healthcare provider for various treatment options. Often, doctors can prescribe shampoos, dietary supplements or topical treatments to help with one’s menopause-related hair loss. Dermatologists are recommended for hair loss advice and treatment.
Managing Hair Loss
Daily Lifestyle Changes
- Stress Reduction and Relaxation – Relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, massage, hypnosis, yoga and visualization techniques are all wonderful ways to prevent hair loss because it assists in minimizing the effects of stress on your body during menopause.
- Get a Full Night’s Rest - It is vital to get the recommended eight to nine hours of sleep to help decrease tension and irritability that could cause stress-related hair loss.
- Stay hydrated – One of the most important diet changes to prevent hair loss is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and to help grow healthy hair.
- Comb Hair Gently – Try to use a wide tooth comb when brushing hair in order to prevent breakage and split ends. Also, it is advised to comb as gently as possible when your hair is wet.
- Use Hot Oil Treatments – Use hot oil treatments routinely in order to strengthen the hair shaft and prevent hair loss.
- Avoid Chemical Treatments – It is important to avoid chemical treatments, such as bleach, perms and hair colorings, which weakens and depletes moisture from your hair.
- Eliminate Alcohol and Nicotine – Because alcohol and nicotine slow circulation to the scalp and cause a reduced blood flow, it is advised to eliminate both from one’s lifestyle in order to prevent hair loss.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids – Eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Many fish contain Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient for strong and healthy bones that can help prevent hair loss.
- Add more Protein – It is advised to consumer more than the recommended dosage of protein since hair is made from protein and responds well to healthy protein in one’s diet. Some good examples are tofu, beans and even protein shakes.
- Eat more Chickpeas – Chickpeas supply you with Vitamin B6 and Zinc, an important part in building essential hair protein.
- Phytoestrogens – Adopt a dietary plan that includes foods that contain phytoestrogens. These plant estrogens bind to estrogen receptors in your body and can prevent hair loss Soy, tofu, beans, legumes, seaweed, potatoes, apples and carrots are all wonderful sources of phytoestrogens.
- Replenishing Your Diet – Eating more calcium-rich foods, magnesium-rich foods and Vitamin E-foods, like green vegetables, nuts and almonds, are other easily adaptable diet changes to help alleviate headaches.
- Eat more Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps make the soy and meat sources of iron more absorbable and is essential in the development of collagen, which is vital for hair growth.
- Vitamins - Vitamin C helps prevent hair loss and encourages healthy hair restoration. B6 helps strengthen and condition weak hair, while B3 and iron are essential for proper circulation to the scalp. Vitamin E stimulates hair growth.
- Alternative Medicine – Chinese medicine (acupuncture) has been a long standing treatment for mood swings around the world. Acupuncture is a medical treatment involving the insertion of sharp sterile needles into the body at specific points according to a mapping of “energy pathways.” Chinese medicine teaches that the condition of the hair on the human body is ruled by two different physical organs in the body, the kidneys and the lungs. While the kidneys control the hair on the scalp and the head, the lungs control all other hair on the body.
- Herbal Remedies – Some common Ayurvedic herbs to help improve blood circulation, disinfect one’s scalp and stimulate hair growth are licorice extracts, horsetail, apple cider vinegar and sage tea. The two commonly known herbs for treating joint pain are phytoestrogen and non-estrogenic herbs. Some of the most common phytoestrogen herbs are Saint Johns Wort, Black Cohosh and Dong Quai – all which contain estrogenic components produced by plants and replace some of the missing estrogen hormones experienced as a result of menopause. Although these herbs are known to maintain the balance of key neurotransmitters in the brain, they can also make your body less responsive to producing its own hormones, causing a further decrease of one’s hormone levels. Non-estrogenic herbs are known to nourish one’s hormonal glands into producing its own natural hormones. By stimulating one’s own hormone production, non-estrogenic herbs, such as Macafem. Macafem is grown in the Andes of Peru and has achieved great success in naturally increasing one’s hormone levels.
- Creams – Topical creams, such as S5 Cream and Revivogen, are powerful topical creams to stimulate hair growth.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy - For more severe cases of hair loss, women may seek surgical or pharmaceutical treatments, although it is important to keep in mind that there are many studies showing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases a woman’s risk of elevated blood pressure, endometrial and breast cancers, strokes, blood clots and gallbladder disease. It is advised to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional regarding the negative side effects before you begin treatment.