Blow dryers, flat irons, and other devices: Frequent use of a blow dryer tends to damage hair. The high heat from a blow dryer can boil the water in the hair shaft leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage. Dermatologists recommend that you allow your hair to air dry. Then style your hair when it is dry. Dermatologists also recommend limiting the use of flat irons (these straighten hair by using high heat) and curling irons.
Estrogen describes a number of female sex hormones primarily made in the ovaries. Estrogen responsible for your female physical traits and characteristics, having the opposite role of the male hormone testosterone. Although men do have some estrogen and women have some testosterone, for the most part, the primary hormone’s levels block out the effects of the opposite sex hormones.
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.)
An unhealthy gut is also a common source of inflammation and that alone can contribute to hair loss. But lack of robust digestion and a healthy gut bacterial environment will not only lead to nutrient deficiencies that impact hair health but an imbalanced impacting all other hormones related to hair loss such as low thyroid, poor estrogen metabolism and elevated cortisol.
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.
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Accurate placement of the grafts is necessary to ensure a good cosmetic result. In the medial third, the needles should be inserted parallel to the brow axis. The follicles should point toward the tip of the nose and the hairs should converge toward each other in the other two segments, that is, the bulbs in the upper part point toward the forehead and in the lower part toward the other eyebrow.
Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder associated with anxiety, stress, depression, boredom and frustration. It is where a person manually removes hairs with their finger, either a few strands throughout the day or sometimes many strands at one time during an emotional outburst. This behavior is usually a means of coping with stress or emotional turmoil. However, it can sometimes become a habit that is difficult to break. The eyebrows is a commonly targeted area as is the scalp.
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.
This is an autoimmune disorder that is also known as “spot baldness” and can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (alopecia areata monolocularis) to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis), or to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis). Although it is thought to be caused by hair follicles becoming dormant, what triggers alopecia areata is not exactly known. In most cases, the condition corrects itself.
Madarosis of non-scarring type is commonly seen in alopecia areata which is a hair-specific autoimmune disease associated with patchy loss of hair. It presents as round or oval patches of non-scarring hair loss. Madarosis occurs as isolated involvement [Figure 2] or as a part of alopecia universalis. When alopecia areata involves the eyelashes exclusively, there is rarely involvement of other parts of the body. Alopecia areata can involve both the eyelids without scalp involvement also. Short exclamation mark hairs are pathognomonic for alopecia areata.
Take extra care in looking after your hair. Use a gentle, nourishing shampoo (we love Bumble and Bumble Gentle Shampoo) to promote good condition and prevent breakage. Try using a silk or satin pillowcase. Avoid harsh styling products and techniques that apply heat to the hair (blow drying, curling irons etc) as these can cause more damage to fragile hair.
Try out new hairstyles to disguise your thinning hair whilst you recover your hormonal balance. You may also want to consider a hair piece or clip-in extensions if your hair loss is very bad, but these should be used with care in order to prevent traction alopecia. You may also like to try using rollers or a hair volumizer, to add lift to your locks, or instantly hide thin patches with a good hair loss concealer.
Anagen effluvium occurs after any insult to the hair follicle that impairs its mitotic or metabolic activity. This hair loss is commonly associated with chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets your body’s rapidly dividing cancer cells, your body’s other rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles in the growing (anagen) phase, are also greatly affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins approximately 90 percent or more of the hairs can fall out while still in the anagen phase.
Around 30 million U.S. women will experience hereditary hair loss, or female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), while others will struggle with situational hair loss, brought on by medical conditions, medications, poor health and nutrition, environmental factors such as smoking and sun damage, or even from adverse reactions to hair care products or treatments.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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.
For other women, the problem with estrogen dominance is that they’re also experiencing lower levels of progesterone relative to estrogen—and progesterone helps protect hair follicles from the hair-thinning effects of testosterone, DHT, and estrogen. Evidence suggests that progesterone may act as an aromatase inhibitor and other research suggests that the genes involved in aromatase activity are implicated in female hair loss.
While these factors contribute to hair loss for any woman, it’s particularly dicey for those of us with PCOS because when the follicle is exposed to our elevated androgens such as DHT (di-hydro testosterone, an active metabolite of testosterone) it gets damaged. Whenever a cell is damaged it generates oxidative stress which further alters the androgen receptor in the follicle perpetuating the issue.