Importance of hair
More than 50% of middle-aged women experience significant hair loss for many reasons, including menopause and pregnancy. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, hair loss is suffered by a large population, though the awareness of its treatments is less. But does it matter that much? Many might have a hard time believing this, but hair can have a significant impact on the overall personality of people. Let's see how hair can impact the quality of life-
- Hair loss can result in low self-esteem in women- because hair symbolises femininity, attractiveness and fertility. This can lead to severe psychological conditions like anxiety, depression and even suicidality.
- Scalp and skin exposed to UV rays can develop long-standing diseases like photocarcinogenesis, solar elastosis, polycystic ovarian diseases and melanoma. Thus, hair acts as a natural sunscreen and can reduce the impact of UV erythemal radiations specifically for people suffering from alopecia. However, the degree of protection varies depending upon the hair density.
- Women with long, healthy and luscious hair are perceived as more attractive and feminine. Resultantly, women suffering from alopecia develop an inferiority complex and detach themselves from social engagements.
Early symptoms of hair loss-
1. Excessive hair fall-
If you are starting to see a whole lot of hair around you recently, it's time you pay a little attention to it. Professionals suggest that losing 50-100 hair strands a day is typical, and this is because of your body's renewal cycle. But if that is not the case, it might be a very early sign that you are developing alopecia. Treating the same at this stage can save you a lot of time, money, and confidence!
2. More forehead-
If you notice yourself using a little too bronzer lately to cut short that forehead, it could be because of your receding hairline. Make sure you start paying attention now as this condition could get unpleasant.
A braid is a quickest and most comfortable hairstyle for every woman as it does not leave you with a bad headache, unlike other fancy hairstyles. So the next time you braid your hair, notice the thickness, or when you tie it in a ponytail, see if you are wrapping the tie more times than usual. This could be a sign of excessive hair loss.
4. White patches on nails-
Mainly these patches are caused due to some deficiency in your body, like zinc and calcium deficiency. However, if this is accompanied by hair loss- you might want to see a specialist since white patches and lines are the most common early signs of alopecia.
If you start losing hair suddenly that leaves behind itchy patches, you must consult a professional. These patches could be coin-sized and might also start paining if you ignore them for long.
Kinds of hair loss in women
Androgenetic Alopecia or Alopecia Areata-
Androgenetic alopecia is a hereditary disease that usually clears out the mid-scalp area of women. Unlike men, women with androgenetic alopecia do not have higher androgens; instead, they have higher levels of 5-alpha-reductase and reduced levels of cytochrome p450. Contrary to this, the causes of alopecia areata are debatable. Precisely, disruption of anagen stage hair follicles causes this autoimmune disease. It is nonscarring hair loss that develops in patches that, if aggravated, can start impacting hair all over your body.
While the previous one is a medical condition, Telogen Effluvium is temporary hair loss caused by pregnancy, malnutrition, major surgery, extreme stress etc. This usually gets resolved without any medical treatment in a span of 100 days. Technically this condition develops when anagen hair shifts prematurely to the telogen phase triggered by traumatic experiences like hospitalisation, medication, pregnancy etc. It is a diffuse hair loss situation caused by many reasons, like the presence of heavy metal hormones in the body or excessive intake of anticoagulants.
Anagen effluvium occurs during the hair growth phase, and it is named chemotherapy-induced alopecia by researchers. There can be many causes of anagen effluvium, some of them are drugs like levodopa, colchicine, cyclosporine, and other causes are diseases like pemphigus Vulgaris. In this situation, the anagen to telogen ratio should be less than 15% of telogen hair follicles.
Reasons for hair loss
1. Alopecia areata
As per a few studies, this condition develops due to lymphocytic infiltrations near hair follicles that start appearing as lumps on the skin. As discussed previously, this is an autoimmune disease, the pathophysiology of which remains vague. To put it simply, hair follicles in this condition are attacked by the immune system causing hair patches to occur anywhere on your body.
2. Chemicals, overheating styling products
Styling your hair requires a lot of effort and mostly equipment that leaves behind irreparable damage. Heating your hair strips them off from natural oils. The cortex of your hair holds moisture that tends to evaporate due to temperature and eventually make your hair strands weaker- further inducing hair loss.
3. Hormonal imbalance
Low levels of estrogens and progesterone in women slow hair growth that sometimes triggers the production of androgens responsible for hair thinning. This hormonal imbalance results from many factors, including excessive dieting or exercise, substance use etc.
Nearly 2-3% of the world's population is affected by psoriasis, which is caused by the activation of T-cells in the dermis that triggers this inflammatory skin condition. In this situation, one can expect sore and itchy patches on the scalp and other body parts. Stress, infections and skin injuries are only a few causes of scalp psoriasis.
A few symptoms of this condition are itchy and burning scalp; painful, rough, flaky skin; blisters and pus. This is quite a severe autoimmune disease, as scarring alopecia harms hair follicles to the extent that it is irretrievable. Lichen planopilaris and central centrifugal alopecia are currently the two most common kinds of scarring alopecia.
Scalp ringworm, folliculitis, lichen planopilaris are a few scalp infections that damage hair follicles and make them fragile. Some of these infections harm the hair shafts and cause the condition to worsen with time if untreated.
Since hair follicles have a lifespan, when you lose some hair strands every day as a part of the process, they are supposed to regrow. However, the irregular operation of T3 and T4 disrupts this process, and as a result, the hair growth cycle becomes longer. This is another hormonal imbalance situation that can be treated with medications.
Hereditary hair loss is another widespread reason for hair loss. According to research published by Harvard Medical School, 4 out of every 10 people suffer from hereditary hair loss. Usually, female pattern hair loss starts impacting at the age of 30 and builds up as you age.
Improper diet impacts the growth of hair- not only the lack but also the excess of some vitamins and minerals can cause hair loss. Vitamin A and selenium are two such elements excesses of which can induce hair loss significantly. On top of that, not consuming the required calories in the name of dieting is also a wrong decision as it can trigger telogen effluvium. Thus, a balanced diet is what you need.
Women who are likely to face hair loss problems-
Although this is quite a common problem, a better way of dealing with it is being a little more attentive if you fall in any of the below-mentioned categories:
- Middle-aged women should keep an eye on the health of their hair as they are more prone to developing hair loss problems.
- Women who are expecting or have recently had babies should also be cautious.
- Women who experienced anything traumatic like chemotherapy.
- If any of your family members have gone through a similar problem in their life, there is a reasonable probability that you will develop hereditary hair loss later in life.
Different types of hair loss treatments
Although not all hair loss issues are treatable, some treatments can effectively prevent further escalation of the situation, and other available options can also help complete regeneration. Let's discuss them one by one.
Over the counter medication
Minoxidil or Rogaine is a nonprescription solution that women can use to prevent hair loss. It is an androgen-independent topical solution. Professionals suggest that it must be used at least twice a day for a minimum of 12 months to improve the hair cycle. Although the solution does have some side effects like hypertrichosis, they are entirely reversible.
Low-level laser therapy is a proven method that stimulates hair growth. Low-level laser therapy stimulates microcirculation that further improves the flow of blood and nutrients, thus improving the condition of hair follicles. This is a good treatment option for people suffering from androgenetic alopecia- each sitting of this treatment can cost anywhere around 1500-3000 INR.
It is a surgical procedure where your thin hair or bald spots are covered with hair on other parts of your body. This is one way of dealing with thinning of hair or complete hair loss. However, note that this procedure is a bit on the expensive side, and it can cost a female anywhere between 25,000-1,50,000 INR to get the same done.
Treating hair loss with home remedies
Instead of resorting to medications and expensive treatments, if you are at an initial stage, you can surely give home remedies a try as it helps people at large. However, please consult your doctor and take a patch test first to avoid aggravating the situation.
Here's a list of some home remedies for you to try out-
- A gentle massage with some essential oils every once in a while can improve your scalp. It is proven that massaging your scalp near the pressure points help in increasing blood flow and improving hair growth in people suffering from alopecia. Massages are helpful as they expand the cells of hair follicles that increase hair thickness.
- Some people consider aloe vera as a cure for all diseases. Since it has antifungal, anti-inflammatory and healing properties, people recommend it a lot. Although no available studies link aloe vera with alopecia- as it contains vitamin A, C and E, it may bring some results for you.
Food that can help combat excessive hair loss-
Having moong beans on alternate days will give your body enough folate to grow healthy hair cells. Apart from folate, moong has other nutrients like vitamins A, B, and C, each responsible for making your hair stronger and healthier.
Haircare brands use amla as their USP today as it is rich in antioxidants and has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, just like aloe vera. Continuous massages with amla oil can help make your hair follicles stronger and promote hair growth.
This is another ayurvedic elixir for people suffering from hair loss. It is a combination of Amla, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, known for improving hair nourishment and reducing inflammation. Triphala acts as a natural conditioner as it provides the nourishment that your hair shafts require.
You can drink fennel or rinse your hair with it whenever you wash your hair, and it will do wonders for your hair. Fennel has copper, niacin and folate as moong does. It keeps your scalp free from infections as it has antimicrobial properties and makes your scalp healthier.
Hair loss issues can be life-altering, from inferiority complex to social anxiety- it can wreck your life in ways you can't imagine. This is why it's best to be aware of the condition you are in to move towards the solution. If you have tried the ayurvedic solutions and home remedies and those haven't worked for you, trying other treatments is recommended.
I hope this article helped you!