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Thinning and Hair Loss: Solutions for Women

Updated on January 23, 2011
Thinning Hair
Thinning Hair | Source
Hair Loss
Hair Loss | Source

Help! I'm loosing my hair!

If you've been noticing the part in your hair is expanding or that your ponytail is shrinking, thinning might be the reason. As we get older, the diameter of the hair shaft decreases. According to Zoe Draelos, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reports that the same number of hair follicles exist, however thinner individual strands make it appear as if there is less volume.

We've all seen the advertisements to treat balding and hair loss in men, but what about women? As many as two-thirds of all women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. Usually, thinning or loss of hair in women does not result in baldness. But, hair loss in women strikes at the core of self-esteem and how we feel about ourselves.

When faced with thinning hair, some women try to camouflage it with different hairstyles, teasing or shampoo formulas to make hair grow or appear thicker. Teasing hair (back combing the hair to fluff it up) does help to conceal thin spots, but the higher the hair is pulled up, the easier it is to see through the hair. Shampoo formulas for hair loss can help, somewhat by aiding hair strands to expand and add more hair volume.

Some women decide to hide hair loss by wearing a wig. Wigs are available in various lengths and colors, but can be most uncomfortable. Wigs do not fare well with swimming, wind or rainy days. Of course, some women choose hairpieces, that are attached to a headband, barrette or clip. These are a quick and temporary fix to make it appear that you have thick hair.

Some beauty shops can braid strands of hair in tiny plats at the hair roots that add volume. These attachments can be left in, shampooed and styled, but will need to be removed and replaced, usually, on a monthly basis.

Hair transplants or plugs offer the most natural appearance for a full head of hair. Hair transplants (plugs of hair) are inserted beneath the scalp skin, but the techniques are expensive and can be uncomfortable.

Thinning Top Hair

If your hair is beginning to thin on the top, you can help ease the strain by stop shampooing in the shower. Water pounding on the top of your head can add additional stress and increase hair loss. Instead, try leaning forward and wash your hair in a sink to avoid continued pressure on the top of the scalp. Use a volumizing shampoo and massage the top of the scalp instead of scrubbing the hair with fingernails.

Can Estrogen Help?

Although oral and topical estrogens can be prescribed by physicians to treat hair loss in women, there are no studies to support the use of estrogen for hair growth. Dr. Vera H. Price, a researcher in hair loss and treatments, reports two common types of hair loss -- androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata. She also warns women who take oral contraceptives to treat hair loss should be careful to select a treatment with little or no androgenic activity, such as nongestimate or ethynodial diacetate. Additionally, women with androgenetic apolopecia should not use testosterone and androgen precursors such as DHEA.

Dr. Vera H. Price, a researcher who examined hair loss and treatments for the two most common types of hair loss -- androgenetic alopecia (shrinking of hair follicles) and alopecia areata (hair loss in circumscribed noninflammatory patches), warns that women who choose to use oral contraceptives to treat hair loss should take care to select one with little or no androgenic activity, such as norgestimate or ethynodiol diacetate. She also warns that women with androgenetic aplopecia should not use testosterone or androgen precursors such as DHEA.

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is an immune disease that affects about 2 percent of the U.S. population. Hair loss appears in various degrees of severity, from small, round hair loss patches that regrow without medical treatment, to chronic hair loss that can involve hair loss on the scalp or body. Men and women can be affected by this type of hair loss and it can happen at any age, although usually it occurs mostly in children or young adults.

Treatment for alopecia areata included therapies such as glucocorticoids, topical immunotherapy, anthralin, or biologic-response modifiers (such as Minoxidil). The kind of treatment depends on your age and the extent of hair loss. Less severe cases often have greater improvement successes, but 100% of hair restoration does not happen.

Androgenetic Alopecia

This type of hair loss is commen in men and is known as male-pattern baldness. Hair loss begins at the front of the scalp and recedes backward over time, as the hair in the center of the scalp thins and falls out. In women, this type of hair loss results in uniform hair thinning.

Hair Loss Myths and Facts:

Myth: Hair loss is inherited from your father. Fact: Genes are a factor, and androgenetic aplopecia is genetically-linked hair thinning.

Myth: Female pattern hair loss causes abnormal bleeding. Fact: Menstruation is not affected, but hair loss does typically begin between the ages of 12 and 40.

Myth: Teasing, altering hair color, daily shampooing increases hair loss. Fact: Normal hair care does not affect hair loss.

What Can I Do?

* Begin by using a volumizing shampoo that includes ingredients like rice or wheat proteins, as these thicken hair strands.

* Trash the stiff, maximum-hold hairsprays. These types of hairsprays can fracture hair shafts when brushing.

* Avoid too-tight ponytails and hair teasing. And, never use a rubber band to tie up your hair, as they promote hair breakage!

* Avoid over dying and perming your hair. Dye and perming solutions penetrate thinning hair more rapidally causing irreversible damage.


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    • Entourage_007 profile image


      5 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      I've heard of this herbal hair supplement that contains the chinese herb Zu Shou Wou and research has shown that it doesnt have any side effects and its proven to help increase hair growth in men and women. I've currently been taking it for 4 months for hair loss and I can proudly say that I have noticed results. Heres some more information about it


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