Some cancer chemotherapy drugs cause temporary hair loss, which affects all body hair. Along with the loss of scalp hair, people undergoing chemotherapy also commonly lose their eyebrows and eyelashes. Chemotherapy drugs that frequently cause hair loss include paclitaxel, 5-fluorouracil, carboplatin, cisplatin, actinomycin-D, bleomycin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, altretamine, etoposide, docetaxel and doxorubicin. Hair loss typically begins 2 to 3 weeks after the start of chemotherapy. Lost eyebrow hair regrows in the weeks to months following completion of treatment.
There is pilosebaceous inflammation with both scarring and non-scarring alopecia depending on the degree of inflammation. Most commonly, there is involvement of the head and neck, though widespread involvement is also seen. Eyebrow loss is a prominent finding and may be the presenting symptom when the eyebrow region is involved in the acute benign form of follicular mucinosis.
Skin infections can cause hair loss at the affected area. One of the more common causes is a fungal infection of the skin, also sometimes referred to as a ringworm. Eyebrow fungus is more likely to be related to a scalp fungus (tinea capitis) and both areas are often affected at the same time. A bacterial infection is another possible cause. Folliculitis for example is a condition where the hair follicle becomes infected usually with bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. Eventually this can lead to loss of the hair in the infected follicle.
It is known that during pregnancy, because of an increased level of estrogen, there is a tremendous growth of new hair. However, during menopause it is noticeable that the reduced level of estrogen hormone tends to cause hair loss. When the estrogen hormone levels tend to drop, the hair follicles fall under the influence of the male sex hormone or the testosterone, which cause the shortening of the growth phase of hair. Subsequently there is a noticeable hair loss. This hair loss caused due to the drop down of estrogen levels may cause patchy hair loss or complete baldness.
If, however, you aren’t so sure that any of the causes listed above are a problem for you, then a good place to start may be to talk with your healthcare provider about testing. It is important to learn the root cause – especially if dealing with infertility – because that which is causing hair thinning and shedding may also be contributing to your inability to conceive.
Hormones are cyclical. Testosterone levels in some men drop by 10% each decade after age 30. Women's hormone levels decline as menopause approaches and drop sharply during menopause and beyond. The cyclic nature of both our hair and hormones is one reason hair loss can increase in the short term even when you are having a long-term slowdown of hair loss (and a long-term increase in hair growth) while on a treatment that controls hair loss.
In your quest for perfectly maintained brows, you probably keep regular maintenance appointments on your calendar. Instead, you might want to embrace a more natural, hands-off approach. “The trauma inflicted on hair follicles during waxing, tweezing, and threading can lead to permanent follicular damage,” explains Dr. Umar. “Women who grew up in the height of the ’90s overplucked, pencil-thin brow trend have begun to notice the difficulty in growing thicker eyebrows after years of this habit.”
Androstenedione, which is mostly produced in the ovary and adrenal glands, is converted to testosterone by 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. Testosterone then circulates throughout the body to reach its target tissues. Androgen-metabolizing enzymes have been found in many parts of the hair follicle (Table 1; Bolognia et al., 2012). The presence of those enzymes makes the pilosebaceous unit a site of androgen metabolism and synthesis (Fazekas and Sandor, 1973). Circulating free testosterone either binds to intracellular androgen receptors in the hair bulb and dermal papilla, which facilitates miniaturization of the follicle, or is metabolized into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. DHT then binds the same receptor but with much greater affinity (Kaufman, 2002, Levy and Emer, 2013). Of the androgens depicted in Figure 1, only DHT and testosterone bind to androgen receptors (Burger, 2002).
The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness. This is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top and sides of the head. It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. Fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parents side of the family.
Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.
The term “common baldness” usually means male-pattern baldness, or permanent-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men. Men who have this type of hair loss usually have inherited the trait. Men who start losing their hair at an early age tend to develop more extensive baldness. In male-pattern baldness, hair loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head.
Also called “chastetree,” Vitex is an herb which is typically prescribed to treat estrogen dominance. It seems to be recommended as a remedy for especially low levels of estrogen as well however, and does seem to have a general balancing effect on the overall ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Vitex’s balancing effect is thought to result from the stimulation of dopamine production.
Visit your doctor. First and foremost, you need to understand the cause of your thinning brows in order to know how to address them. Your doctor can check for underlying conditions like hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance and vitamin deficiency. Your doctor can also point you in the right direction for products that can help regrow or mask thinning hair. Visit a dermatologist for targeted advice and cosmetic options that are available to you.
Scalp hair loss may be a common complaint among men and women, but in my practice, loss of eyebrow hair is a major concern among my female patients. Because eyebrows frame the face, hair loss in this area can dramatically change one's appearance, and since eyebrow hair loss is not easily concealed, it can be, for some women, an even more devastating loss than scalp hair loss.
There is also a different in the form of 5AR enzyme (5 alpha reductase) found on the facial hair follicles vs. the scalp hair follicles. This enzyme converts testosterone into that more problematic DHT. Type I DHT is found in sebaceous glands on the face and genital area whereas Type II is found in hair follicles of the scalp. Type II DHT is typically more of a problem in men, but Type II is increased in disorders with high testosterone like PCOS.
MICHAEL REED, MD: Over-the-counter minoxidil, which is the brand Rogaine, is FDA approved. It's been shown to be effective in scientific studies. Propecia is the new drug on the block, and that probably is more effective. It's a pill that you take once a day, and that has been shown to slow down hair loss and grow hair in a significant number of individuals. Most of the other preparations that are heavily advertised or marketed are not proven to be effective.