Once considered a mark of a middle age crisis among men, hair loss and thinning hair is fairly common among women as well. Some 30 million women in the U.S. have hereditary hair loss (compared with 50 million men). Daily tasks such as brushing and washing your hair can turn from relaxing to puzzling when excess shedding around the hairline occurs. Being an unlucky victim of either genetics or improper hair styling can cause a receding hairline.
Prescription medications, while effective, can carry high risk and be incredibly expensive. The most common drug therapy for treating the 34 menopause symptoms in the U.S is hormone replacement therapy. This may be a quick and strong way to combat hormonal imbalance, but unfortunately, it entails serious side effects and increases the risk of blood clots and stroke, as the following study has shown.
Symptoms of hair loss include hair loss in patches usually in circular patterns, dandruff, skin lesions, and scarring. Alopecia areata (mild – medium level) usually shows in unusual hair loss areas, e.g., eyebrows, backside of the head or above the ears, areas the male pattern baldness usually does not affect. In male-pattern hair loss, loss and thinning begin at the temples and the crown and hair either thins out or falls out. Female-pattern hair loss occurs at the frontal and parietal.
Common Mistakes to Avoid -- When it comes to hair loss, missing the early signs is one of the first mistakes many women make. A staggering 50 percent loss can occur before it's noticeable to the human eye. The other common mistake women (and men, for that matter) make when trying to treat their hair loss is not giving enough time for therapy to work and not tracking their results properly. Just like hair loss, initial changes in hair regrowth take time and can be subtle before they are noticeable to the naked eye.
There’s no single cause. Triggers range from medical conditions -- as many as 30 -- to stress and lifestyle factors, like what you eat. Your genes play a role, too. Sometimes doctors can’t find a specific reason. As a starting point, hair loss experts suggest you get tested for thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Hair often grows back once the cause is addressed.
Finasteride (Propecia) is a medicine taken in tablet form that partially blocks the effects of the male hormones (an 'anti-androgen'). Propecia has been shown to halt further hair loss and promote re-growth of scalp hair in approximately 80 per cent of patients after three to six months. The treatment benefits also stop when you stop taking the medication. Only available on prescription and is available on some NHS primary care trust lists for certain conditions.
This study in males age 60 years and older was designed to determine whether the histology and hormonal findings in older males with hair thinning are similar to Androgenetic Alopecia in young males. Males who experienced the first onset of scalp hair thinning after age 60 were compared to age-matched males (controls) without a history of hair thinning. Four scalp biopsies, two from the frontal and two from the occipital scalp, were obtained for horizontal sectioning and biochemical assay. Histologic findings were primarily follicular downsizing. Follicular drop out was not detected using elastic tissue staining, and there was no significant difference in number of follicles in frontal compared to occipital scalp.
The pluck test is conducted by pulling hair out "by the roots". The root of the plucked hair is examined under a microscope to determine the phase of growth, and is used to diagnose a defect of telogen, anagen, or systemic disease. Telogen hairs have tiny bulbs without sheaths at their roots. Telogen effluvium shows an increased percentage of hairs upon examination. Anagen hairs have sheaths attached to their roots. Anagen effluvium shows a decrease in telogen-phase hairs and an increased number of broken hairs.
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.
Follicles grow in cycles (growing – resting – falling out). Therefore, not all follicles grow at the same time and they have periods of rest. During the rest period the hair may remain in the follicle for some time or it may fall out. This cycle repeats itself for the whole of your life. It takes 8-12 weeks for a hair to grow from the base of the follicle to the surface of the skin. This means that if you remove a hair, you may have to wait 8-12 weeks for it to grow again. Hairs you see growing a few days later in the same area are from different follicles.
Unfortunately for men, there’s a four in seven chance of receiving the baldness gene which means hair loss could occur for you really at anytime during adulthood. Many of our clients have recognised that their fathers or their mothers if the balding is on the female side, started at a certain point in their lives and that the time-scales are similar or identical.
The basic approach is to stimulate hair growth at the root by giving your body the support it needs. Many women find that a nutrient-rich diet, high-quality nutritional supplements and a little stress relief can do wonders. If you find your hair loss is connected to a thyroid, hormonal, or stress imbalance, a specific herbal combination product will help to rebalance your body naturally.
Chris Deoudes has been a fitness writer since 2006, with articles published at Bodybuilding.com and Avant Labs. He is certified as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise and as a performance sport nutrition specialist by the International Sports Sciences Association. He has a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and business management from the University of Florida.
The warning signs for men and women with genetic hair loss are slightly different. For men, the two “danger zones” are the crown and the hairline, which are usually where evidence of thinning hair can signal the start of male pattern hairloss – although less eagle-eyed or image-conscious individuals may take many months or even years to notice the gradual changes.
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