Certain medical issues can also impair hair growth. An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can cause hair loss. So can iron deficiency. When women go through menopause and their estrogen levels fall, their hair often begins to thin. Many women also lose some hair a few months after giving birth because of the hormonal changes the body experiences.
Women using oestrogen supplementation or taking birth control pills will also experience hair loss when they cease supplying their body with extra oestrogen. These forms of hair loss may be temporary but this, however, does not mean that there is no link between oestrogen and permanent hair loss. Scientists have noted up to 30 hormones that could play a role in female pattern hair loss – the genetic kind of hair loss – and oestrogen, whilst poorly explored, may be one of them. It’s alright if the excess hairs are the ones that are lost but when normal hair falls out, there’s a problem.
Several skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis, don't directly lead to hair loss, but cause inflammation (a symptom of these conditions) near the brow that may be to blame. The urge to scratch and rub the inflamed area can indirectly cause eyebrow hairs to fall out. Loss that occurs in this manner is usually patchy, but as it is generally non-scarring (the hair follicle is intact), eyebrows can and often do grow back.
Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body goes through numerous physical changes as it adjusts to fluctuating hormone levels. Many women have unpleasant symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Hair loss is another common occurrence.
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:
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.
It takes more than just an apple a day to keep the doctor away; if your diet lacks the key vitamins A, B, D and E or nutrients such as iron, calcium or the amino acid L-lysine, your hair may suffer. Nutrient deficiency doesn’t just affect the eyebrows—it may lead to hair loss on the scalp, feelings of fatigue and physical weakness, lightheadedness or inhibited concentration, heart palpitations and pale skin, among other serious symptoms.
Testosterone replacement is becoming popular for men. Cotsarelis warns that this may accelerate hair loss. Propecia might help -- but because it prevents testosterone breakdown, it might affect the dose of male hormone replacement therapy. Cotsarelis warns men taking both Propecia and testosterone replacement to make sure their doctor carefully monitors their testosterone levels.
The photo included here shows an example of one condition which could affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair and pubic hair. This is a type of thinning hair found in women that are regularly seen at Sussex Trichology in West Sussex. These symptoms obviously cause the sufferer much distress as the appearance has dramatically altered the hairline since the eyebrows define the face. Shuna Hammocks, our Consultant Trichologist, is able to diagnose your condition and discuss it at length and then design a treatment plan for you. It may be suggested that you attend the clinic for hair treatments which involve a combination of creams, steam and massage.
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).
When you choose dōTERRA®, you are choosing essential oils gently and carefully distilled from plants that have been patiently harvested at the perfect moment by experienced growers from around the world for ideal extract composition and efficacy. Each dōTERRA essential oil is also carefully and thoroughly tested using the strict CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® quality protocol.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
When you see more hair in the shower drain, in your hair brush or your ponytail holder goes around an extra time all of a sudden this is typically low thyroid, high stress or low estrogen. It can also be the increased inflammation or oxidative stress or as a result of nutrient deficiencies especially anemias (low iron, B12, etc.). Let’s dig into each of these.
The normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 6 years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter (less than half an inch) per month during this phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp is growing at any one time. About 10 percent of the hair on your scalp, at any one time, is in a resting phase. After 2 to 3 months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place.
“…a beauty editor told me she had been using Viviscal... Since beauty editors see truckloads of products every week, I was immediately convinced when she said it worked – so I bought it myself. I started taking it twice a day for the first six months and saw dramatic results within three to four months. My hair was less thinned out …and it was also less brittle. I’ve gone to the same hairdresser since I was 19, and he was the first to comment on how full and strong my hair looked…”
Distress can also come from more than a change in body image. Dlova et al. (2016) found that in a group of black South African women, 52% reported serious worry that others would mistakenly assume that their hair loss was secondary to HIV infection or AIDS. It is critical that clinicians who care for such patients be compassionate and understanding but also have a solid understanding of hair loss so that reasonable expectations can be established and a therapeutic relationship can develop.
The real culprit appears to be dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent form of testosterone. DHT is made from testosterone by a specific enzyme in the body, and while both testosterone and DHT are known to have a weakening effect on hair follicles, there appears to be something unique about the conversion process of testosterone to DHT that relates to thinning hair. This is why some drugs that are marketed for hair loss block the conversion of testosterone to DHT. (It’s important to note, however, that these drugs tend to be less effective in women than men, and that one of them—finasteride—is only approved for hormonal hair loss in men, not women. What’s more, the drug has been associated with increased risk of sexual side effects, depression, nausea, hot flashes, and increased estrogen levels—and too much estrogen is its own risk factor for thinning hair; more on that below.)
You may have thought you were one up on men in the biological war but not only testosterone-strong males experience hair loss. In fact (and unfairly), up to 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime. You might have heard that pregnancy, the contraceptive pill and menopause are possible causes of hair loss, but are they really? Well, yes and no. An understanding of why female hair loss happens and what role estrogen plays in hair growth may help to make this answer clearer.
Sinclair Scale: The 5-point Sinclair Scale is a modified visual grading scale. Grade 1 is normal. This pattern is found in all girls prior to puberty, but in only half of women age 80 or over. Grade 2 shows a widening of the central part. Grade 3 shows a widening of the central part and thinning of the hair on either side of the central part. Grade 4 reveals the emergence of diffuse hair loss over the top of the scalp. Grade 5 indicates advanced hair loss. This grade is uncommon, occurring in less than 1% of women.
There can be any number of different factors contributing to your hair loss. If you’re reading this and thinking, “well I have that and that, and am going through that,” then you may already have an idea of what is a contributing cause for you. You may already be doing much of what is suggested here and may learn of additional ideas to consider trying.
Thyroid hormone receptors were detected in both dermal and epithelial compartments of the human pilosebaceous unit. T4 and T3 decrease the apoptosis of hair follicles and T4 prolongs the duration of anagen in vitro. Thyroidectomy delays initiation of anagen. Administration of thyroxine advances anagen, initiation of which is however delayed once toxic doses are given. Therefore, ratio of telogen to anagen hairs is increased in hypothyroidism as well as hyperthyroidism. Thus, the hair follicles are affected in thyroid disorders, and madarosis is caused due to disturbances in hair cell kinetics. Hypothyroidism is associated with generalized hair loss probably due to coarse, dull, and brittle hair with reduced diameter. The eyebrows and eyelashes may also be lost. Loss of lateral one-third of eyebrows known as Hertoghe sign is a characteristic sign of hypothyroidism. Some people also refer to it as Queen Anne's sign, after Anne of Denmark whose portrait with shortened eyebrows has been interpreted by some as indicative of the presence of goiter, even though such a fact has not been proved by any known sources of information. Madarosis may even be the presenting sign in hyperthyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, there is thinning with breaking off and shortening of hair. Madarosis can also occur in hypopituitarism, hypoparathyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism.
Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull is a University-trained Obstetrician/Gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She delivered over 2000 babies and specializes in gynecologic diseases such as menstrual disorders, infertility diagnosis and treatment especially pertaining to tubal blockage and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Dr. Langdon is the inventor of 6 patent pending medical devices, and attended Ohio State University from 1987-1995 receiving her Medical Doctorate Degree (M.D.) with Honors in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Male pattern hair loss has been established as androgen-dependent because it is associated with changes in the androgen receptor and responds to antiandrogen therapy (Ellis et al., 2002). With FPHL, genes that encode aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol, are also implicated (Yazdabadi et al., 2008, Yip et al., 2009). The process of androgen biosynthesis is depicted in Figure 1.
Low iron and low B12 can arise from a variety of causes including autoimmunity, poor intake, depletion due to medications (i.e. antacids) or bad digestion and are common causes of hair loss. But other common nutrient deficiencies can arise as part of a less than stellar diet low in zinc, protein (especially the amino acid lysine) or a deficiency of vitamin B6 (a very common issue with women taking hormones like the birth control pill). Low vitamin D has also been linked to excessive hair loss as has excessive vitamin A intake (less common.)
See the doctor for sudden hair loss. If you suddenly lose your eyebrows, that could be a sign of a more serious problem, particularly if you only lose your eyebrows or eyelashes and not other hair. Sudden loss of eyebrows can be a symptom of eye conditions, skin conditions, systematic disorders, infections, and nutritional deficiencies. Seeing your doctor can help you narrow down the condition.
Exercise is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. You’ll feel stronger and happier once you incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It also helps prevent some of the other symptoms of menopause, including mood swings, weight gain, and insomnia. All of these factors are important for maintaining hormonal balance, which promotes healthy hair growth.