Women And Hair Loss - Possible Causes
When the 2012 Olympics ended there were the celebrity athletes and there were the heroes – people the world knew little about until they made their mark. None was more stunning than the sight of a well-toned, attractive 16 year old Gabby 'The Flying Squirrel’ Douglas taking up first place on the podium. But Gabby was trending on Twitter for more than just her ability to sail through the air. She got a lot of heat for her hair which threatened to overshadow the fact that she is the first ever African-American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-round and team competition at the Olympics.
For women, hair complications can overshadow their life achievements. Just as Gabby Douglas’ hair is infamous as her London 2012 Olympic gold medals are famous. She had her hair pulled back in a messy bun using gel, hair clips and a hairband. The twittersphere came alive. “Why hasn’t anyone tried to fix Gabby Douglas’ hair?” Another stating “Gabby Douglas gotta do something with this hair! These clips and this brown gel residue aint it?” Gabby found out when she made the grave mistake no celebrity worth their scandal makes anymore – she googled herself. “I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair? I’m like, I just made history and people are focused on my hair?”
Well, for women like Gabby; it is important to know what the source of the problem is. One issue to consider therefore is to get to know if the problem is in your head or on your head. For Gabby, the problem was just simple, styling; she enlisted the services of a good hairstylist who had a chance to input in the’ Gabby brand’ thanks to her young age, there are so many opportunities for someone like her to shine. Though he confessed that it was going to be tough and tricky because she was 16 and he did not want to do anything that would have made her look 25 years old, he stuck to Gabby’s vision and created something great that suits her no matter what she is doing or where she is. Something that makes her feel great about herself too. That is so important and a big part that luscious healthy hair plays in women’s life; it boosts the self-esteem!
Well, Gabby’s problem had to do with styling and not hormones and genes. She just needed a few updates to give her a fresh-cut look and feel every day. Rich luscious hair that looks like it has been lovingly given nutrients is every woman’s dream, but often our body composition and activities deny us this by causing hair loss; thinning hair condition/alopecia.
What is meant by thinning Hair
Naturally, hair is supposed to grow and develop all over the human skin except on the lips, soles and palms of our feet and hand respectively. We may notice these hairs as they are very fine and almost invisible.
The hair follicles produce keratin which is the building block of hair. The process of hair growth involves formation of new cells to replace the worn out ones which are pushed out through the skin surface inform of strands.
Everyone loses hair; the few strands that remain on combs and brushes bear evidence to this. On average we lose up to 100 strands. But this is supposed to be supplemented by 90% growth. The follicles are supposed to be active for this to occur. Hair growth occurs in these three phases all of which take place simultaneously with different characteristics and speed.
• Anagen which is the phase of active growth (2-6 years)
• Catagen which is the phase of transitional hair growth( 2-3 weeks)
• Telogen which is the resting phase after which old hair is shed off and replaced kicking off the process again
Hair growth process depends with age. Our body’s chemicals and hormonal composition change as we age and can result to any of these types of hair loss:
• Scarring alopecia: a condition where hair fails to regenerate leading to permanent loss. This is caused by: some skin disorders e.g. lichen planus and lupus that leave permanent scars on the skin, skin inflammations such as cellulitis, folliculitis and bad acne, some practices such as use of hot combs and tight weaves too
• Involutional alopecia: this is caused by ageing. Hair follicles go into the Telogen (resting stage) reducing activities in the growth phase. The remaining few hairs wear off gradually
• Androgenic alopecia: this is caused by genetic conditions that affect people of both sexes. Wispy strands and fading hairline is the common characteristic. The pattern of baldness differs in men and women, in men it will start early (age 20) while in women it starts at age 40 with hair loses around the crown.
• Alopecia universalis: where all the hair on the body falls off. All of it; the eyelashes, eyebrows and pubic hair too
• Telogen effluvium: a temporary condition where a large patch of hair is in the resting stage while few are growing. During shedding off some patches are left without hair
In addition to the above, conditions like:
• Drop in iron levels
• Eating disorders
• Cancer and cancer treatments
Result in poor hair growth thereby affecting the hair cycle. However these cause temporary hair losses as they are not damaging to the hair follicles. Here are some tips that can help revive the hair growth process.
1. Good dietary habits: the best diet should contain nutrients to help nourish the hair follicles. Trichologists and other hair experts recommend diets rich in proteins, iron, vitamin C and A, biotin and omega-3.
2. Avoid stress: stress often results to malfunctioning of the body system. A malfunctioning endocrine means hormones are not regulated properly and can cause androgenic alopecia due to mass production of male hormones
3. Use anti-androgenic oral contraceptives to keep the androgens off the hair follicles
4. Hormone replacement therapies help too. Especially during dropping levels of oestrogen
5. Consider hair transplant surgery: where productive follicles are transferred from donor (productive) parts to parts where hair growth has stopped
The bottom line is, hair loss is a leading cause of baldness and many people don’t realise it affects young people just as often as it affects old people. However, a lot of hair loss disorders can be reversed. If these conditions are caught in their early stages; hair growth can resume up to 100%. Make it a personal goal to get checked and treated if you notice changes. That way, you will have no confidence issues