The topic of hair loss among men and women is no longer taboo, as more people are open to discussing their experiences. Celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith (Alopecia), Khloe Kardashian (COVID-19), Christina Milian (Post-Partum), and Matthew McConaughey (aging) have contributed to raising awareness by speaking openly about their own hair challenges. If you have noticed you are losing more hair than usual, you will want to take a close look at external and internal factors that could be causing your hair loss, so you can find the hair loss treatment that will work for you.
How much hair loss is normal?
Shedding is a healthy part of the hair growth cycle. It is typical to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day. Many curly girls are used to finding clumps of their hair in the showers, especially when cutting down on the frequency of washing their hair. Keep in mind that if you detangle weekly, you may see several days’ worth of shed hair coming out at once.
The signs of hair loss can include increased shedding, patches of baldness (especially in the crown area), gradual receding of the hairline and even complete baldness (alopecia).
“There are many triggers, root causes and system dysfunctions that ultimately leads to hair shedding,” says Dr. Brianna Diorio, Director of Product Education at Nutrafol, a supplement to designed to address the leading causes of thinning hair.
What causes hair loss?
Just like in men, genetics play a significant role in female hair loss. If your family has a history of hair thinning or baldness, you might be more susceptible.
Hormonal imbalances can trigger hair loss. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth can lead to fluctuations in hormone levels – DHT, testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, insulin and cortisol – affecting hair growth cycles.
As women age, hair follicles can shrink and produce thinner hair strands, leading to overall hair thinning. There also is a natural breakdown of collagen and elastin as we age.
Certain medical conditions like thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases (like alopecia areata), and chronic illnesses can contribute to hair loss.
Physical or emotional stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to hair shedding. This is known as telogen effluvium.
Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, biotin, and vitamin D, can impact hair health.
Some medications, including those for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure, can cause hair loss as a side effect.
Excessive use of heat tools, tight hairstyles (like braids and ponytails), and chemical treatments (like coloring, perming, and straightening) can damage hair and lead to breakage. Look for broken hairs around your forehead, a receding hairline and patches of hair loss where your hair is pulled tightly.
Poor Hair Care
Improper hair care, including harsh shampoos, frequent washing, and inadequate conditioning, can weaken hair and contribute to hair loss.
Rapid and significant weight loss can trigger hair loss due to the body’s response to stress and changes in hormonal balance.
Exposure to pollutants, UV radiation, and other environmental factors can weaken hair and contribute to its loss
If you’re concerned about hair loss regardless of your hair type, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional or a dermatologist. They can help determine the underlying causes of hair loss and provide appropriate guidance and treatment options based on your specific situation.
“Treatment can prevent hair loss from worsening and help women regrow their hair. Treatment delivers the best results when started at the first sign of hair loss,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
How to treat hair loss
Depending on why your hair is thinning, there are different possible remedies. And treatment can prevent hair loss from worsening and help women regrow their hair.
Treatments like Minoxidil and Rogaine
Minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine) works by prolonging the growth phase of hair follicles by widening them and prolonging the anagen stage of hair growth.
Changing your hairstyle
If your hair loss is caused by your hairstyle – traction alopecia – you can reduce your risk of developing this type of hair avoiding buns, ponytails, and up-dos that are tightly pulled back. Changing your hairstyle can help.
Many supplements, including biotin and folic acid, are said to help grow and thicken hair. In studying these different supplements, the findings have been mixed. In most studies, the supplements had no effect on hair growth and thickness.
In one study, however, 120 healthy women had thicker hair and less hair loss after taking specific omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants. They took this combination for six months. If these results can be repeated in other studies, we’ll have some evidence to recommend taking these supplements.
“Since the follicle itself is a mini organ, it is directly impacted by the function or dysfunction of other systems and we need to give it the building blocks it needs for optimal functioning,” says Nutrofol’s Diorio. “Much like the heart needs constant blood supply, our hair follicles need a supply of key nutrients, adaptogens and antioxidants to support hair health, such as Vitamins B, C, and E, as well as minerals like zinc and iron.”
A dermatologist may prescribe a medication like Spironolactone, finasteride or flutamide to treat female pattern hair loss. They include options like Musely The Hair Pill which is an oral medication that blocks the hormones that contribute to hair loss and promotes hair growth.
Lasers for at-home use
The FDA has approved laser combs, helmets, and other devices, which are available without a prescription, to treat hair loss at home. These devices emit a low level of laser light that may help stimulate new hair growth.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy
This therapy uses your own blood. After a blood draw, the blood is placed into a machine that separates the blood into its different components. The platelets, which are a type of blood cell, are treated and injected into your scalp. It is believed the platelets help stimulate your cells to grow hair.
Stem cells: Using stem cells to treat FPHL is still in the experimental stages. Like platelet-rich plasma therapy, more studies are needed to know whether stem cells are a safe and effective treatment for FPHL.
The do’s and don’ts of treating hair loss
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Consume a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins to support hair health. Focus on foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats
Drink plenty of water to keep your hair and scalp hydrated.Gentle Hair Care: Use mild, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners that are suitable for your hair type. Avoid aggressive scrubbing or excessive washing, as this can damage delicate hair. Use Wide-Toothed Combs: When detangling, use wide-toothed combs or your fingers to prevent unnecessary hair breakage.
Protect Hair from Heat
Minimize the use of heat styling tools like hairdryers, curling irons, and straighteners. If you must use them, use a heat protectant and opt for lower heat settings.
Choose Gentle Hairstyles
Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the hair, such as tight braids, ponytails, or buns. Opt for loose styles to minimize stress on the hair shaft.
Consider Volumizing Products
Use volumizing shampoos, conditioners, and styling products to add the appearance of fullness to your hair.
Consult a Professional
Seek advice from a dermatologist or hair care professional to identify the cause of your thinning hair and receive appropriate guidance.
Avoid Harsh Chemical Treatments
Avoid excessive use of hair dye, bleach, and harsh chemical treatments, as they can damage and weaken the hair.
Say No to Tight Extensions
Avoid hair extensions that are attached tightly to your natural hair, as they can contribute to hair breakage and stress.
Minimize the use of tight hair accessories, such as rubber bands or hair clips, that can pull on the hair.
Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of natural oils. Aim for a balance between cleanliness and preventing excessive dryness.
Avoid Crash Diets
Extreme diets or rapid weight loss can affect your overall health, including the health of your hair.
Don’t Ignore Medical Concerns
If you suspect an underlying medical condition is causing your hair thinning, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.