Fashionista: What causes female hair to thin? Candace Hoffmann: There can be a number of reasons women lose hair. Female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) is the most common. How do you know if this might be the reason for your hair loss? Look around at your family. If you have parents, relatives with thinning hair or who are frankly bald --male or female--there is a good chance you could have the propensity as well. That being said, for women, it’s not so cut and dry. Men can easily discern such a connection, women can have multiple reasons for hair loss--sometimes, it's temporary hair loss (telogen effluvium). Here are some common reasons for hair loss in women that are not genetic:
Known as alopecia, hair loss occurs when hair follicles, or pores, either die or become slow in their ability to produce and push a protein called keratin through the follicle and, eventually, outside the skin. This often occurs naturally with age, although certain factors such as genetics, thyroid or hormonal conditions, side effects of medications, or other illnesses can affect hair cell production and growth. This often begins to appear as overall thinning or patchiness of the hair, or a recession of the hairline, usually starting at or around the temples.
Interestingly, although we blame this loss on androgens, if you measure a woman’s circulating level of testosterone in the blood after menopause, it is generally not elevated. So how can low androgens cause androgentic alopecia? It’s partly still a mystery, but we do have some clues. Compared to the dramatic decrease in circulating estrogen, testosterone is relatively high. After menopause, the ratio of the hormones becomes reversed.
When one researches hair loss, or asks perimenopausal or menopausal women how they treat their thinning hair, a couple of vitamins and supplements come up again and again: Biotin and Viviscal. Biotin is a B-vitamin that’s part of the B family. Deficiencies are rare, but many women take supplements because it seems to improve the condition of their hair and nails. And by “seems to improve,” I mean that if you go on Amazon.com and look up “Biotin” or “vitamins for hair, skin, and nails,” you will find a plethora of products with five-star reviews and phrases such as “life-changing” and “bald no more” and “Works!!!”
Lifestyle changes, combined with alternative medicines, are a highly effective treatment option for most women suffering from menopausal hair loss. However, for some women, the symptoms will be so severe that a more drastic treatment is necessary. Before beginning to take prescription medicine or getting surgery, a woman should consult a trusted medical professional to better understand the potential benefits and risks involved.
The notion that only middle-aged men experience baldness isn’t only false, it’s damaging. It causes 20-year-old men to feel self-conscious about their hair loss, meaning that most of them refuse to confront the reality that their hair is thinning. Accepting this reality is the first step towards preventing hair loss from accelerating and getting worse.
Women's hair loss is still so taboo because the socio-economic system we exist under puts unwarranted and unnecessary 'value' on physical appearance and social status, regardless of gender. Until we can liberate ourselves from this patriarchal and repressive system profiting from our insecurity, it will always be a taboo to stand out from 'the normal', which contributes to a lot of mental health problems across the board.
A key aspect of hair loss with age is the aging of the hair follicle. Ordinarily, hair follicle renewal is maintained by the stem cells associated with each follicle. Aging of the hair follicle appears to be primed by a sustained cellular response to the DNA damage that accumulates in renewing stem cells during aging. This damage response involves the proteolysis of type XVII collagen by neutrophil elastase in response to the DNA damage in the hair follicle stem cells. Proteolysis of collagen leads to elimination of the damaged cells and then to terminal hair follicle miniaturization.
Be consistent. Dr. Robert Bernstein, a respected hair restoration surgeon suggests staying on Propecia and minoxidil for 12 months because hair growth may take a long time to become visible. Bernstein also notes that although Propecia and minoxidil were only proven to regrow hair on the top of the scalp, they "definitely can" work for the temple region so long as there is still hair remaining in that area.
Tightly pulling back your hair in ponytails, cornrows or braids can lead to traction alopecia, characterized by hair breakage along the hairline and temples. Women athletes who often wear their hair pulled back are particularly at risk. A change in hairstyle usually helps; however, hair loss may be permanent if the tight styling techniques have been used too long.
I too have spent 25 year researching what causes balding. I have found other reasons that cause balding that I believe to be true. The common link for all humans balding on the vertex of the head is the mandible is in a class 2 skeletal position. This causes the condyle to occlude the superficial temporal artery where it passes between the base of the skull and the condyle. In a normal healthy temporalmandibular joint, there is sufficient clearance for the superficial temporal artery. The skeletal class 2 position places the teeth, the mandible, the Ramos and the condyle in a retrognathic position. In conclusion, the dislocated class 2 skeletal jaw is functioning outside the glenoid fossa in a distalized position, towards the back of your head occluding on the superficial temporal artery. This causes the only connection the vertex follicle pad has to the body to be cut off ending the growth cycle of the hair follicle pad of the vertex.
Hypotrichosis is a condition of abnormal hair patterns, predominantly loss or reduction. It occurs, most frequently, by the growth of vellus hair in areas of the body that normally produce terminal hair. Typically, the individual's hair growth is normal after birth, but shortly thereafter the hair is shed and replaced with sparse, abnormal hair growth. The new hair is typically fine, short and brittle, and may lack pigmentation. Baldness may be present by the time the subject is 25 years old.
Trich is mostly considered untreatable; there's not enough research into the mental, or neurophysiological mechanisms of action to really underpin the cause. I suspect it works in a similar way to any other addiction; a stimulus like a small amount of pain induces a dopamine response, a pleasurable feeling. After a while, your physiological urge for the dopamine hit overpowers your reasoning to stop.