Losing your hair is perfectly normal – we shed up to 100 hairs a day – but for some women hair loss is much more serious and it’s affecting a growing number of women under 40.
The most common type of hair loss can be triggered by life changing events such as moving home, a bereavement or pregnancy, leading to overall thinning of the hair.
According to Elizabeth Steel, founder of the support group Hairline International, the number of women asking for advice about hair loss has doubled over the last ten years. And there is a marked increase in younger women (aged between 18 and 40) who are affected.
If you’ve noticed gradual thinning or found clumps of hair on the bathroom floor it can come as a shock. But don’t panic, most of the time it is a temporary manifestation of your physical or emotional well-being.
Thankfully there is plenty of help available. We find out what causes hair loss, sort out the myths from the facts, and offer advice on treatment.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss is a skin condition – it is not infectious or contagious. Hair loss can be mild – where subtle thinning occurs – or a more serious disease which involves total loss of scalp and body hair.
The most common causes of hair loss are pregnancy – which stops one to four months after the birth of a baby, poor nutrition, eating disorders, drugs and stress. With most of these, hair loss is temporary and can be helped.
The Chinese herbalist says
Hair loss in women is a result of modern living. Ruth Delman of the Chi Health Centre believes women are experiencing similar stress levels to men – and this is manifesting itself in hair loss.
Ruth also says yo-yo dieting, the contraceptive pill, chemicals in water and modern pesticides in food are also to blame.
The nutritionist says
If nutrient levels are low it will be expressed through the hair. Hair follicles rooted in the scalp need to be surrounded by a rich supply of blood to ensure they are sufficiently nourished.
‘Hair loss represents low mineral status, specifically lack of zinc, selenium, calcium, sodium and potassium,’ says Maria Griffiths of the Institute of Optinum Nutrition.
The dermatolotist says
Faddy diets usually result in iron deficiency, as might avoidance of red meat. Vegetarians or vegans who are low in vitamin B12 and zinc could be prone to hair loss. Research shows thinning hair is also linked to progestogens – the synthetic form of progesterone found in the Pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Hair loss is inherited from the male parent. Female hair loss causes abnormal menstrual cycle. Hair dye, hair spray and washing hair increases hair loss. Hair loss only happens to women over 50.
Both parents genes contribute to hair loss. Menstruation is not affected by hair loss. Hair styling and dying does not cause hair loss. Fifty per cent of women from 18 to 40 will experience hair loss.
How can it be treated?
Every practitioner has their own theories on how to treat hair loss. The success of treatment depends on the individual, but in most women hair grows back with the right remedy.
In rare cases when people suffer from total loss of hair, there is no known treatment. The golden rule is the sooner you notice hair loss, seek advice from your GP who will refer you to a specialist. You may want to support your conventional treatment with complementary medicine.
The Chinese herbalist says
Practioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe acupuncture and acupressure – a Chinese form of massage – stimulates meridians (or energy points) which encourage blood circulation around the hair follicles.
Creams made from Chinese herbs can be applied to the scalp to relieve symptoms of dryness, redness and irriation.
Chinese herbs taken orally and created from tailor-made prescriptions to suit individual patients can also help sufferers.
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