Like with low thyroid, there can be a myriad of imbalances at play with PCOS related hair loss making it a complex issue that’s often written off as merely high testosterone. While androgen excess and hypersensitivity of the hair follicles to these hormones are part of the issue, these are other contributing factors to PCOS related hair loss as well:
In order to prevent drying and breakage, it’s best to stay away from heat tools, such as hair dryers and straightening irons. Extensions and other styling methods can also weaken your hair and cause early hair loss. If you must dye your hair, choose an all-natural hair color. Artificial chemicals found in dyes and perms can compromise your scalp and hair health. When you wash your hair, always use a nourishing conditioner to keep your scalp healthy and promote healthy hair growth.
Androgenetic alopecia, commonly called male or female pattern baldness, was only partially understood until the last few decades. For many years, scientists thought that androgenetic alopecia was caused by the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women also have in trace amounts under normal conditions. While testosterone is at the core of the balding process, DHT is thought to be the main culprit.
The study in question, which was first published in the journal PLOS Genetics earlier this year, analyzed the hair growth of 52,000 men between the ages of 40 and 69 in the UK. The numbers: 32% of the men said they did not experience any hair loss at all. 23% said they experienced a little bit. 27% had moderate hair loss, and the last 18% said they were suffering from severe hair loss.
Other drugs commonly attributed to causing madarosis are miotics, anticoagulants, anti-cholesterol drugs, antithyroid drugs, propranolol, valproic acid, boric acid, and bromocriptine.[21,99] Anticoagulants in high doses have been found to produce loss of scalp, pubic, axillary, and facial hair with loss of eyebrows after a latent period of a few weeks of treatment with dextran and heparin. Propranolol can cause diffuse alopecia along with loss of eyebrows due to telogen effluvium, usually after three months of therapy. Loss of medial aspect of eyebrows can be seen in fetuses exposed to valproic acid. Diffuse alopecia including that of eyebrows has been described due to chronic ingestion of mouthwashes containing boric acid. There was complete reversal following stopping the practice. Levodopa has been noted to cause severe diffuse alopecia within three months of daily use. Hair loss can occur soon after starting topical minoxidil therapy (due to detachment of club hairs following resting hairs reentering anagen), and after cessation of therapy (due to telogen effluvium).
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.
The first thing you'd want to try is to talk to your doctor about stopping the medicine -- ask if there's a substitute. If you can't find a substitute for the medication and you must take it, then you could consider filling in your eyebrows. You can find brow products at any local drugstore. YouTube has many, MANY brow tutorials you could learn from.
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.
Estrogen and combined oral contraceptive (COC) drugs with estrogen or progestogen have been reported as effective, but data are limited (Adenuga et al., 2012, Raudrant and Rabe, 2003, Scheinfeld, 2008). They are thought to function through several mechanisms. Both components of COC drugs increase the levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (Schindler, 2013). They also send negative feedback signals that suppress the hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin and releases the hormone and pituitary secretion of the luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, which results in a decreased androgen production (Gilman et al., 1990, Varothai and Bergfeld, 2014). These actions decrease androgen secretion from the ovary and the quantity of free, biologically active androgens, which reduces their effects on the hair follicles (Schindler, 2013). Our practice when prescribing COC drugs is a combination of ethinyl estradiol 20 mcg plus drospirenone 3 mg. Drospirenone is an analogue of spironolactone. This treatment combination is approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne but not alopecia.
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.)
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Hormonal changes are a common cause of female hair loss. Many women do not realize that hair loss can occur after pregnancy or following discontinuation of birth control pills. It is important to remember that the hair loss may be delayed by three months following the hormonal change and another three months will be required for new growth to be fully achieved.
Hair loss in women isn't always as straightforward as it is in most men. In men, about 95 percent of all cases are caused by male pattern baldness. In women, however, hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of conditions and circumstances. During the consultation, Dr. Yaker utilizes specialized hair and scalp scanning technology to assess the distribution of hair loss, hair thickness, and how much hair is present in a particular area. It is important to note, that for women, a proper diagnosis begins with a process of elimination. More than one cause for the hair loss may coexist and need to be recognized or excluded. A comprehensive medical history, which includes a list of all medications, history of hair loss, a thorough scalp exam, a discussion of medical and skin disorders, and a complete nutritional evaluation will be needed. Blood work analysis may be required, and a scalp biopsy may also be performed if the cause of hair loss is uncertain or there is a concern for scarring alopecia.
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.
Estrogen dominance is an extremely common imbalance and it can fuel thinning hair as well as an arms-length list of annoying symptoms, from bloating and PMS to irregular periods and infertility. Your first, best step in clearing excess estrogen from the body is doing a liver supportive detox. My 4-Day Hormone Detox has you eating fresh, nourishing foods for three meals a day, plus snacks. You won’t feel hungry or deprived and, most importantly, you will help kickstart hormonal healing. A hormone detox is one of the best first steps you can take to reverse thinning hair.
Madarosis is the hallmark of lepromatous leprosy. It was reported in 76% of patients with multibacillary leprosy. Bilateral symmetric cicatricial madarosis occurs in lepromatous leprosy due to histiocytic infiltration of hair follicles[77,78] [Figure 4]. It occurs in multibacillary leprosy after at least 5 to 10 years of untreated disease. Loss or atrophy of the eyelashes may follow. Madarosis adds to the cosmetic disfigurement caused by leprosy. Absence of madarosis is a good prognostic sign in long-standing cases. Unilateral madarosis may occur in tuberculoid leprosy due to the facial patch in the eyebrow region. In tuberculoid leprosy, madarosis occurs due to granulomatous infiltration of hair follicles leading to their destruction.
Optimal levels of estrogen help to grow full thick hair, while low estrogen levels lead to thin and stalled hair growth, which eventually leads to hair loss. Through the years, a women will go through various cycles of highs and lows in estrogen levels. Puberty is typically associated with high estrogen levels as a woman starts to cycle through menstruation. Pregnancy typically increases hormone production, but once the baby has been delivered the mother can experience a drop in estrogen levels, which can result in thinning and loss of hair. Typically, this corrects itself as the woman's body heals and hormonal regulation returns to normal. The largest decline in estrogen levels is during menopause. Estrogen is secreted through the ovaries and adrenal glands. When a woman hits menopause, the ovaries’ estrogen production is significantly diminished, which puts an excess burden on the adrenals to produce it. However, as the adrenals are typically overburdened due to stress, symptoms of menopauses like hair loss and hot flashes occur prematurely and excessively for some. Nourishing the body and balancing stress levels will support gentle and graceful transitions.
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.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, hair does not grow continuously but actually grows in cycles. It starts at the follicles which are embedded in the skin and the visible part, the shaft, is a consequence of active growth at the follicles over time. The living part of the hair in the skin has blood and nerve supply while the hair shaft is made up of dead cells and protein and does not have a blood or nerve supply. Therefore it can be easily cut without any bleeding or pain.
There are numerous diseases that can affect the hair and scalp. Hair loss can be caused by a variety of conditions. Diseases such as alopecia areata, anemia, male/female pattern baldness, and infections of the scalp can all cause significant difficulty and loss of daily well-being. Stanford Dermatology has established a special clinic focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders of the hair.
Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. Franchised diet programs which are designed or administered under the direction of a physician with prescribed meals, dietary supplements and vitamin ingestion have become popular. Sometimes the client is told that vitamins are a necessary part of the program to prevent hair loss associated with dieting. From a dermatologists’s standpoint, however, the vitamins cannot prevent hair loss associated with rapid, significant weight loss. Furthermore, many of these supplements are high in vitamin A which can magnify the hair loss.