When it comes to the topic of thinning hair, women typically want to avoid the subject. We may be willing to discuss a lot of aging related topics, like wrinkles and menopause, but talking about hair loss is just not sexy.
There are an estimated 30 million women in the United States who suffer from female hair thinning. Women may wonder if thinning hair is an inevitable part of getting older — in fact 50 percent of women who have thinning hair are over the age of 50 — but there are things you can do.
First ask yourself, are you really going bald or has your hair just become thinner over the past few years? Women average between between 50 and 100 hairs lost per day. When the loss starts to increase it can be distressing to see those clumps of hair in the shower drain or on your hairbrush. It’s easy to panic, but try to keep yourself focused on finding the cause and appropriate female hair loss treatment.
According to Vibrant Nation’s guide Great Hair after 50 there are several factors that can contribute to female hair loss. The loss may be permanent, as in the case of female pattern baldness, or temporary, as it often is in patchy alopecia areata and after anesthesia or a serious illness. Every case of hair loss in women over 50 is highly individual, and it can occur in every texture from fine to thick, curly to straight. Hair loss is as individual as your fingerprints.
Dermatologist Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, with practices in New York City and Coral Gables, Florida, says, “I’m a cosmetic dermatologist whose patients are primarily interested in improving their looks with fillers, lasers and Botox but I notice more women patients 50+ adding hair loss to their list of concerns. I tell them the first thing to do is to identify the source of your shedding and sparseness with consultations and testing.
This should be a team effort that includes your internist, your dermatologist or a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss and an endocrinologist. You need to know whether the cause is genetic or hormonal, find out if you’re hypothyroid or iron deficient, and rule out undiagnosed disease or medications can be influencing factors too. It’s a process of elimination.”
One cause of hair loss is damage from heat styling, chemicals, extensions and binding the hair too tight in ponytails and braids. Called traction alopecia, it’s treatable if caught early, before permanent damage occurs. If you can see hair follicles still attached to the ends of your hair this may be the cause.
Other reversible types of hair loss include alopecia areata, which is caused by extreme stress; pregnancy related hair loss called telogen effluvium; diet, thyroid disorders or anemia related hair loss; and hair loss caused be medicines such as birth control pill or anesthesia used in surgery.
Scalp disorders such as psoriasis and scarring alopecia can also cause female hair thinning. Women’s treatments may include topical cortisone and antibiotics.
The most common cause of thinning hair – women over 50 – is typically a natural part of the aging process, just like wrinkles. Known as as female pattern hair loss, it’s largely based on hereditary and postmenopausal factors. For most women over 50 it’s a genetic problem that’s exacerbated by hormonal changes. As you age, your hair follicles miniaturize and thin and the cycle of shedding and re-growth slows down. However, if thinning seriously accelerates medical intervention may help.
The most important thing to remember is, don’t try to play medical expert yourself. Talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a dermatologist, or endocrinologist with experience treating female pattern baldness and hair loss in women.
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