It is important to understand the phases of hair growth which play an important role when in further understanding some of the causes of hair loss. During the active phase known as anagen the cells multiply at the follicle and push out to form the shaft. It is followed by a transitional phase known as catagen where the outer layer of the hair shrinks and it becomes attached to the root. Thereafter there is a resting phase known as telogen where there is no growth or changes in the hair.
Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Hair loss is due to the shrinkage of hair follicles and the resulting impact on the growth cycle. New hairs become finer and finer until there’s no hair left at all and the follicles become dormant. This hair loss is caused by hormones and certain genes.
Estrogen, the power player in women’s bodies, is your friend when it’s appropriately balanced. It makes you feel energized, helps stabilize your moods and contributes to a healthy sex drive. Yet too much estrogen, which can be caused by weight gain, perimenopause or toxicity from exposure to endocrine disruptors (which are rampant in our food, water and plastic products), can lead to thinning hair. During and after pregnancy, for example, estrogen levels peak and then dip, causing sudden hair loss for many women.
When a woman is experiencing hair loss and has PCOS, spironolactone is often prescribed and it can be helpful but it’s important as well to address all these other issues when it comes to PCOS related hair loss. It’s also important to know that there is only a mild correlation of elevated testosterone on a blood test and hair loss. This is likely due to the hypersensitivity of the follicle to androgens in PCOS. Basically we get an exaggerated reaction from a smaller amount of testosterone.
These important micronutrients, which are all essential for hair health, are part of my Balance Supplements. And even if you eat a healthy, phytonutrient rich diet, you might not have optimal levels of the vitamins and minerals you need to promote hair health. Environmental factors beyond our control, from the mineral-depleted soil in which most of our food is now grown to shifts in growing practices that have reduced the amount of vitamins and minerals in various foods, can leave us eating a picture-perfect diet and still deficient in certain micronutrients.
SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
Madarosis is a terminology that refers to loss of eyebrows or eyelashes. This clinical sign occurs in various diseases ranging from local dermatological disorders to complex systemic diseases. Madarosis can be scarring or non-scarring depending upon the etiology. Appropriate diagnosis is essential for management. Follicular unit transplantation has been found to be a useful method of treating scarring madarosis and the procedure relevant to eyebrow and eyelash reconstruction has been discussed. A useful clinical approach to madarosis has also been included for bedside diagnosis. The literature search was conducted with Pubmed, Medline, and Google scholar using the keywords madarosis, eyebrow loss, and eyelash loss for articles from 1960 to September 2011. Relevant material was also searched in textbooks and used wherever appropriate.