With 40% of women experiencing hair loss by age 40, female pattern hair loss is surprisingly common. Regrettably, we just don’t talk about it enough to normalize it, so women feel isolated and lonely when they notice changes to their hair. Because of this silence, dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD notes that these statistics are likely even higher in women - we just don’t have the complete picture because women are too embarrassed to even talk with their doctors.
Catching hair loss in women can be a challenge at first, mainly because you don’t always see losses on your scalp and hairline like men. Rather, you likely see changes in how much you shed (such as on your pillowcase or covering your shower drain). Yet, the cause is suspected to be rather similar to that of male pattern hair loss. It is thought that this form of hair loss in both men and women is linked to genetics. Specifically, an expression of a gene sequence that makes the hair follicles highly sensitive to the presence of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Sensitivity to DHT can cause your hair follicles to shrink, leaving you with fine hair until it eventually stops growing altogether. The term that describes this problem is called follicular fibrosis.
So, what can women do to turn back the clock on thinning hair? According to dermatologists, it has a lot to do with lifestyle.
Watch What You Eat
While you may not think of it immediately, your diet plays a significant role in hair growth. Of course, protein is the primary building block of hair, so you need a diet that gets plenty of healthy proteins. But, hair growth also requires iron, vitamin B12, biotin, magnesium, zinc, and other essential nutrients that need to come from what we ingest.
Take A Hair Growth Supplement
It is safe to say that the Standard American Diet is lacking in plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean sources of proteins. Indeed, the food we are “supposed” to eat (like our greens and omega-3’s) are not popular choices among the general population. Unfortunately, this means that many people may not be getting enough of the good stuff for their bodies. And when it comes to hair growth, you need plenty of extra nutrients to support something not-so-necessary at this point in our evolution - like your hair.
Thus, you will want to consider taking a hair growth support supplement like the REVITA Nutraceutical Tablets to meet all of your daily dietary hair growth needs.
Chronic stress can lead to a lot of health-related problems (including hair loss). But, one of the most common reasons women lose hair is due to a significant event that is psychologically stressful. Telogen effluvium is a very common condition that most people will experience at some point in their lives. In this condition, a person’s hair switches into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle following a stressful event, which leads to hair falling out at the end of the resting phase (about 3 months). Dr. Zeichner notes that this is the same condition many women experience after they have had surgery or given birth. Indeed, when something shocks your system or is particularly disturbing, it can force your hair to stop growing.
We cannot necessarily reduce stress in many instances, such as giving birth, losing a loved one, divorce, or a car accident. However, we can diminish day-to-day stressors by making sure we prioritize what is important, give ourselves plenty of rest, staying active, and incorporating stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditation.
Use A Topical Hair Regrowth Solution
Unfortunately, women have fewer options for hair regrowth solutions than men. However, women can use topical minoxidil. Per Dr. Zeichner, minoxidil can “lengthen the active growing stage of hairs and promotes healthy delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair.”
However, a newer formulation of minoxidil has entered the market called 5% nanoxidil. It is similar to minoxidil, but it has key features that make it a more successful hair loss treatment for both men and women. Dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco says to think of Nanoxidil as a laser bean version of minoxidil because “it’s a smaller molecule, so these products promise better penetration through the scalp to the hair follicle.” Products that contain Nanoxidil also include other ingredients that target many other reasons why women lose hair.
Treat Dandruff And Other Scalp Infections
Dandruff and other scalp infections like seborrheic dermatitis can cause hair thinning as well because of inflammation. When the scalp is inflamed and cannot get enough oxygen and nutrients, it is really challenging to support hair growth and encourage new growth to start. Often, people with hair loss suffer from an overgrowth of the fungus Malassezia, which can be treated with the right topical antifungals like ketoconazole.
Be Gentle On Your Hair
Women are more likely to do harsh styling practices, like bleaching, dying, and chemically altering textures. Not only that, many women use hot styling tools or have tension-type hairstyles like ponytails with can hinder growth and force hair loss.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
Remember how we talked about stress earlier? Well, when the body does not get enough sleep, it can raise cortisol levels (the stress hormone). According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep serves a number of roles in the body, including
- Memory formation
- Toxin release
- Balancing hormones
- Improves cognition
- Decreasing inflammation, and
- Warding off infection and chronic diseases
These are just a few of the many important processes that occur while we sleep. But, if we do not get enough sleep, we have a harder time allocating energy towards things like hair growth. Additionally, we are at greater risk for inflammation on the scalp, in the hair follicles, and unbalanced hormones - which can cause a slew of problems in women.
So, if you need an extra excuse to turn out the lights 30 minutes earlier or push your alarm forward, now you have it. Not only may extra rest help with hair growth, but it will also serve you in other ways.
If you make these lifestyle changes and notice you still have excessive shedding or struggle with thinning, talk to your dermatologist. Telogen effluvium and female pattern hair loss are some of the most common causes of hair loss in women, but it may also be due to other factors that can be identified by your physician.