By Dr Eleni Yiasemides, consultant dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon.
Contrary to what many believe, hair loss and thinning doesn’t only happen to men.
Hair loss and thinning in women is actually much more common than you might think. The average person will lose around 50 to 100 strands (about 10 per cent) of hair in a day, but some women lose 150 or more. If you lose over 150 hairs, then this is considered a significant amount and you should see a healthcare professional, as this may be a sign of female pattern hair loss. Female pattern hair loss affects one in three women over the age of 30, as the hair starts to naturally thin with age and peaking in incidence in the early 40s.
Hereditary hair loss is the most common reason for progressive hair thinning. Thinning hair can appear as a “diffuse” thinning over the top of the head and along the central part. It can come from either the mother’s or father’s side of the family. There are other causes of hair thinking and these include health conditions that can cause hair to fall out including imbalance in hormones, autoimmune illnesses, thyroid conditions and iron deficiency all have an impact. Certain medications also play a part increasing your risk of thinning hair, such as those that manage cholesterol, blood thinners and blood pressure treatments. It is recommended to see your regular doctor to rule out any possible medical causes for your hair loss.
Early signs of hair loss to watch out for can include build-up of hair in your hairbrush or shower drain, increased incidence of loose hairs on your pillow or clothing and visible changes when styling such as hair clips feeling loser or wrapping elastics more times around hair when tying it up in a ponytail. If you notice these signs, seeking treatment the sooner, the better will result in better long term outcomes.
If left untreated, hair thinning can worsen over time. As female pattern hair loss is generally due to genetics, it can’t be completely prevented. You can, however, prevention is key. Early treatment is vital and leads to the best long term results. Many women spend thousands of dollars on hair shampoos, treatments, styling and colour but these only mask the condition – rather than treat it.
There are over-the-counter treatments available in pharmacies and the most effective includes topical minoxidil five per cent as the key ingredient. So look out for this when strolling through the aisles!
This should be applied once daily and comes in a non-greasy formula that doesn’t interfere with styling. No don’t fret, it can be used in conjunction with your other styling products so you’ll be looking and feeling better in no time.
Speak with a healthcare professional before commencing treatment.
Do you, like many women, suffer from female hair loss? Any tips for other community members out there? Share your experiences in the comments below.