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Hair Loss in Women

Hair loss in women may be due to factors such as stress, family history, type of hairstyle, or due to autoimmune disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic. First, let's take a look at the hair growth cycle:

  1. Growing Phase (Anagen) - This first stage is the longest. The hairs on the head can grow for 3 to 5 years, or longer for some people.  In this phase, the hair follicles push out hairs that continue to grow, unless the hairs are cut or reach the end of their lifespan. 90% of hairs will be in this stage at any given time.
  2. Transition Phase (Catagen) - Hair follicles shrink and hair growth is slow. The hair separates from the bottom of the hair follicle. 5% of hairs will be in this phase at any given time. This stage lasts about 10 days.
  3. Resting Phase (Telogen) - Hair typically does not grow nor falls out during this stage of resting.  However, new hairs start to form in follicles that just released the old hairs in phase 2 (Catagen). This phase affects 10 to 15% of the scalp and can last for 3 months. 
    • The Exogen Phase is when the hair sheds and is a part of the telogen phase. Hair is shed from the scalp and is also lost while brushing or washing the hair. It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day during this phase. New hair grows as old hair falls out. This can last 2 to 5 months.
  4. Early Anagen - This phase continues with the new hairs that grow and the cycle starts all over again.

Now let's look at what causes hair loss in women:

  • Stress and anxiety from issues such as financial problems, relationship problems, illness, or even pregnancy, can cause a temporary loss of hair. This will happen to the hair in the telogen (resting) phase and is called telogen effluvium. There's a great chance the hair will grow back once the stress goes away. 
  • A family history usually causes hair thinning along the top of the head. This is female-patterned hair loss (or androgenic alopecia). The time of hair growth shortens, the hair isn't as sturdy, and the hair falls out more easily. This pattern of hair loss can come from either side of the family.
  • The type of hairstyle you wear can also cause hair loss. Styles such as tight ponytails, tight buns, braids, or cornrows can pull on the roots of the hair. Using heat and chemicals can also damage the hair. This hair loss is called traction alopecia and can cause bumps on the scalp, redness of the scalp, soreness, stinging and itching. You can also develop blisters. This hair loss can be reversed if you stop pulling the hair back, but if follicles are damaged, the loss can be permanent. 
  • Autoimmune disorders (alopecia areata) such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, and diabetes, can prevent hair growth as inflammatory cells target the hair follicles. There can also be a family history of autoimmune disease. Hair is lost in patches, which may or may not become more extensive. The hair loss can possibly be reversible and the hair can regrow.
  • Hair can also be lost due to toxic substances such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy in cancer patients, and other medications such as acne medications, antidepressants, antibiotics, and birth control pills. This affects the hair growth phase and is called anagen effluvium.


So, what can be done about hair loss in women? According to Healthline, healthy and fuller hair depends on genetics and hormone levels which are beyond our control. But a healthy lifestyle and proper hair care can help to manage hair loss. 


- Good nutrition is important because the hair is made of keratin, a protein. Foods like lean meats, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy products are a great source of protein. Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Folic acid, Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin B12 can also promote healthy hair. 


-You also can reduce stress with activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, or counseling. 


-Hair care involves choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair, whether it's oily, dry, fine hair, etc. This may take some trial and error to find what works best for your hair. You should also avoid very hot water when shampooing; and when towel-drying your hair make sure it's done gently. You can also turn down the heat when blow drying the hair. 


-You can also camouflage hair loss with hair pieces and wigs, and scalp sprays or pastes designed to cover up hair loss. Or you can seek a medical provider who can provide treatment with topical corticosteroids or minoxidil (found in Rogaine), or immunotherapy. 


We will have more on hair growth in a later blog, but here are some key nutrients to look for in hair products to help with hair growth:





Biotin 



Vitamin B12



Folic Acid

Improves Keratin, the protein that makes up your hair and gives hair its structure



Produces oxygen-rich red blood cells that feed the hair follicles




Causes healthy cell growth of the hair


Vitamin C

Helps form Collagen, which makes the hair stronger


Vitamin D

Helps create new hair follicles


Vitamin E



Zinc



Iron



Omega 3/ Omega6

An antioxidant that reduces stress in the scalp, normalizes oil productions, locks in moisture 



Helps with hair tissue growth and repair, keeps oil glands around follicles working properly



Helps boost circulation and carries Oxygen to the hair roots



Nourishes hair, promotes growth, reduces inflammation

References:

Cleveland Clinic. Hair Loss In WomenAccessed 11/23/20.

Healthline.  What Are The Four Stages Of Hair Growth​Accessed 11/20/20.

Strick, R.A. (2018, November 21). Alopecia Areata. Epocrates, Inc. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from www.epocrates.com