No one wants to lose their hair, but for a woman it is particularly distressing. While men can look perfectly presentable — even sexy — with their exposed scalp, no such options exist for the 30 million American women who grapple with thinning tresses. Dr. Maria Colavincenzo, a dermatologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has a practice that specializes in preserving those precious strands — especially in cases of androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition that causes hair loss, mainly on the top and crown of the scalp. Without an appointment, she answered some of our questions:
When this process is disrupted you end up with thinner hair, increased hair loss, a failure to regrow new hair and all in all a super sad experience! No one love losing their hair and it’s such a huge source of upset for women I work with but I’ll be honest, it is often the last thing to change as we work through getting your hormones and metabolism more balanced. It’s simply not your body’s priority.
Taking estrogen supplements as part of a hormone replacement therapy regime has its effects on your hair as well. Women can treat a type of hair loss called androgenic alopecia, associated with low estrogen and progesterone, by replacing these hormones artificially. Dosages of synthetic estrogen should be monitored regularly -- abnormal hair growth is a possible side effect of one kind of hormone replacement therapy, called esterified estrogens.
Your body needs to be hydrated in order to function properly. Load up on H2O all day long and pass on juices, sodas, and other flavored drinks that contain more sugar than your body needs. The amount of water needed varies from person to person and depends on various factors, including overall health and exercise intensity. As a general rule, however, you should aim to have eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
You basically have two major choices here: hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or phytotherapy (herbal remedies). You may wish there were more options, but there really are not. You can of course take other approaches to treating hair loss, but if low estrogen levels are one of the major causes of your hair loss, the results you will see treating the problem through other means are going to be quite limited if you are failing to treat the cause.
If you’ve gotten through this list and still don’t know what’s going on, it’s time to talk to your doc. Unfortunately, madarosis–typically used to mean the loss of eyelashes, but also referring to the loss of brows–may be due to many, many things, including a number of vision and life-threatening conditions, like herpes zoster, leprosy, HIV/AIDS, trachoma, malignant eyelid tumors, discoid lupus, scleroderma, and hypothyroidism (Khong, Casson, Huilgal, Selva; Survey of Opthamology, 2006). Brow and lash loss are both indicators of underlying diseases, so yes get to your doc stat.
This plant is native to North America and has been used for centuries by indigenous people to treat menstrual and menopausal disorders. While modern research results are mixed, some studies do indicate that black cohosh can be effective as a treatment in menopause. While the research focuses on hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause that get more attention than hair loss, it follows that black cohosh could also help to improve hair growth when estrogen levels decline.
If you’ve undergone chemotherapy recently, you know the effects that it has on your hair, including your brows and lashes. First of all, I want to point you to this awesome resource by FairyHairs (click here), that shows in intervals, with pictures, what you can expect with regrowing your hair after chemo (Thank you, Jenny Mealy!). The article also includes ways to regrow your hair after chemo.
Lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia inflammatory conditions, in which the inflammation destroys the hair follicle, can cause a scar or permanent hair loss (usually present as red patches with redness and scale around each hair follicle). In the very advanced stages, they may appear as smooth, bald patches where the hair follicles have been destroyed. Androgenetic hair loss is another non-scarring type. The most common type of hair loss, it is due to the complex interplay of genes, hormones, and age.
Despite the name androgenetic alopecia, the exact role of hormones is uncertain. It is well known that androgens affect the growth of the scalp and body hair and even Hippocrates observed 2,400 years ago that eunuchs did not experience baldness (Yip et al., 2011). However, hyperandrogenism cannot be the only pathophysiologic mechanism for FPHL because the majority of women with FPHL neither have abnormal androgen levels nor do they demonstrate signs or symptoms of androgen excess (Atanaskova Mesinkovska and Bergfeld, 2013, Schmidt and Shinkai, 2015, Yip et al., 2011). Furthermore, cases have been reported in which FPHL developed in patients with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome or hypopituitarism with no detectable androgen levels (Cousen and Messenger, 2010, Orme et al., 1999).
Sara Gottfried, MD is the New York Times bestselling author of the new book, Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years. Her previous New York Times bestsellers are The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet. After graduating from Harvard Medical School and MIT, Dr. Gottfried completed her residency at the University of California at San Francisco. She is a board-certified gynecologist who teaches natural hormone balancing in her novel online programs so that women can lose weight, detoxify, and slow down aging. Dr. Gottfried lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two daughters.
If you’ve overplucked your brows too many times, you may have caused trauma to the follicles in the meantime, signalling not only those hairs you plucked to stop growing back, but also the hairs in surrounding areas. The good news: If the hair follicles aren’t dead, they can possibly be shaken from their resting state with a good brow enhancer. (like WINK yes of course, we have to say it). There’s no sure bets, but it’s worth a try–plus Wink has a money-back guarantee!
Tames and Goldenring described a case of bilateral loss of eyebrows and eyelashes in a patient with AIDS-related complex who had smoked crack cocaine. This has been attributed to hot vapors during the process of smoking, and which therefore caused singeing of the brows and lashes. There was a complete reversal once the patient abstained from cocaine.