by Marlene Affeld Have you noticed a gradual and progressive increase in the number of hairs lost when combing or brushing? Perhaps after months or years of vain denial, you’ve gotten realized that the mirror does not lie, visible thinning has occurred. You’re not alone if you’re experiencing breakage, increased hair shedding or significant hair loss.
Many women may cover it up with wigs, hair extensions, hats or scarves. Others choose one of many several approved medications or surgical procedures that are available to treat baldness.
Excessive hair loss or balding is mistakenly perceived as a strictly something that happens to men although women actually make up to forty percent of American hair loss sufferers. In America, one in four, or over 30 million women will seek solutions and treatment for hair loss annually.
To begin with, don’t panic! Hair loss or hair shedding is consistent throughout the hair growth cycle and it is normal to lose some scalp hair each day. The common human scalp has roughly 100,000 to 150,000 individual hairs and the normal hair growth cycle results within the loosening or shedding of about 100 to 150 hairs every day. New hair growth then emerges from these same previous dormant hair follicles, growing at the typical rate of about half an inch per month.
Hair is composed of two separate parts: the follicle and the hair shaft. The follicle lies below the scalp and produces the hair strands that we see growing out of our head. The follicle is alive, however the hair strand is simply composed of dead cells that don’t have any regenerative ability.
For most people, 90% of our scalp hair is always in a to six year growth phase (anagen) while the remaining 10% is in a dormant period (telogen), which lasts about three months. When the dormant period ends the hair is shed; these are the worrisome hairs we obsess over in our comb, hairbrush, on our pillow or down the shower drain. Relax, some hair loss is perfectly normal.
Baldness or Alopecia happens when the traditional pattern of hair growth is disrupted. The normal pattern of human hair growth is growing, resting, shedding and growing again. If the growth pattern is out of balance, hair doesn’t grow back as readily because it falls out. A family history of androgenetic alopecia increases your risk of balding. Heredity also affects the age at which you start to lose hair and the event, pattern and extent of your baldness. What concerns us is just not these normally shed hairs, but the noticeable thinning we confront in the mirror. For a woman, thick, vibrant hair is our crowning glory, our vanity visible. A luxuriant full mane epitomizes the fantastic thing about a woman and is integrally woven into our self image. Our culture strongly identifies femininity with a thick, silky head of hair. Throughout recorded history, images of shining, full bodied hair are associated with female beauty, youth, desirability and good health. Society unfairly identifies dry, lack luster and thinning hair with old age, sickness and poverty.
A dramatic decrease in self esteem is clear in women when their hair begins to fall out. Hair shedding is not physically painful, however it often causes severe emotional distress. We obsess over our thin tresses as we battle depression and self loathing. Women frequently become introverted and withdraw from the world. We avoid intimate contact and make futile attempts to disguise the standard and quantity of our hair.
Hair loss is particularly injurious to those who’ve professions or careers where physical appearance plays a big role. A young woman is very vulnerable to the stigma of balding. Not until we’re confronted with the lack of our hair can we fully realize how essential hair is to our overall perception of ourselves.
A woman’s hair is at its thickest by age 20. Once we pass 20, however, our hair gradually begins to thin, shedding greater than the traditional 100-150 hairs a day. With aging, hair strands hold less pigment and become smaller so that what was once the luxuriant and thick hair of our youth becomes thin, fine and lighter in color. For even the elderly woman, significant hair loss can threaten self image. A woman’s sense of sexuality and femininity in addition to her establish place in family and society are sometimes undermined by hair loss.
It is hardly surprising when a man starts balding. By the age of thirty-five about 25 percent of American men will experience a point of appreciable hair loss and about 75 percent are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60.
In men, hair loss is usually perceived as a sign of virility, a demonstrable sign that his male hormones are functioning at maximum capacity. To project strength and masculinity, men often choose to shave their heads. Although many men are quite dismayed by a receding hairline, research indicates that the phycological pain of hair loss doesn’t affect men as adversely as it impacts women. What makes coping with hair loss so difficult is the frightening lack of control, the feeling of the shortcoming to do anything to make our hair stop falling out.
Causes Of Hair Loss In Women
As we age, women face a multitude of changes and challenges: wrinkles, a widening waist, cellulite deposits and thickening ankles. It doesn’t seem fair that for many people hair loss is yet one more blow to our self worth. Female pattern baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia is the commonest type of hair loss in women and is genetic in nature. The sort of female balding is brought on by the chemical Dihydrotestosterone or DHT which builds up across the air follicle and over time destroys both the hair shaft and the hair follicle. Pregnancy or the onset of menopause may cause a fluctuation in the production of estrogen. Lacking sufficient estrogen to produce testosterone-blocking enzymes, testosterone is then converted to DHT on the scalp. The result is a shorter hair growth cycle, finer hair and excessive hair loss from shedding and breakage. Some women experience an increase in hair loss several months after delivering a baby.
Genetics aside, there are many other explanation why women lose hair. Surgery, extreme physical or emotional stress, hormonal imbalances, chemotherapy and scalp infections are but just a few. Female hair loss will also be triggered by birth control medications, certain prescription drugs or result from the usage of harsh chemicals or aggressive styling that could cause permanent damage to the fragile hair follicle. Excessive hair shedding may even be symptomatic of rapid weight reduction from dangerous fad-dieting or an eating disorder comparable to anorexia. Using street drugs resembling cocaine will even exhibit sudden and severe hair shedding.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
Reacting intensely to the physical state of our thinning hair could appear like excessive vanity, but it isn’t. Baldness is just not usually caused by disease, but is more commonly related to heredity, aging and hormone function. However, changes in hair appearance, texture and growth patterns may indicate serious health concerns. Hair is considered one of the first areas, together with skin and nails, to reflect nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance and illness. It is wise to pay attention.
Women’s hair seems to be particularly sensitive to underlying medical conditions so it can be crucial that women with undiagnosed hair loss be properly evaluated by a physician. If your thinning hair is a result of a medical condition, your doctor will treat these ailments and in consequence you might experience significant growth of recent hair. When you and your doctor have identified the cause of your hair loss you could also be referred to a hair specialist or implant surgeon to learn in regards to the treatment options available equivalent to or hair transplant procedures to promote growth or hide loss. For some sorts of alopecia, hair may resume normal growth without any treatment. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, hydration and rest can go a good distance towards preventing hair loss and maximizing the potential of your hair growth cycle.
Although medical research is on going, the following have proved beneficial in growing and maintaining a healthy head of hair.
Poor nutrition is often an underlying cause of hair loss as the hair is a reliable indicator of nutritional well being. Discuss with your health care provider your diet, all medications and any supplements you may be taking. Dull hair color or dry and brittle hair may be indicators of a deficiency in essential fats in the diet, oily hair could also be a sign of a B vitamin deficiency.
Recent medical studies have found that a high percentage of women with thinning hair are deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. It’s difficult to acquire sufficient lysine through diet alone. Lysine is important within the transport of iron and necessary to support hair growth. Lysine is found in eggs and red meat so vegetarians needs to be aware of this potential shortfall of their diets.
The amino acids L-Cysteine and L-Methionine are believed to improve hair texture, quality and growth.
Low-fat foods that rank high in protein, low in carbohydrates, can play a significant role in sustaining healthy hair growth and aid in preventing hair loss. Important essential fatty acids for maintaining hair health are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, spinach, soy and canola oil. Omega 3 and Omega 6 Oils protect the guts in addition to your hair so include salmon in your diet on a regular basis.
Herbal Remedies Offer Hope For Hair Loss
Discuss along with your nutritional advisor or medical professional the advantages of herbs. The next natural plant derivatives have properties to encourage a healthy head of hair.
Aloe Arnica Birch Burdock Catmint Chamomile Horsetail Licorice Marigold Nettles Parsley Rosemary Sage
Always choose organic natural products to avoid the chemicals and toxins found in many hair care products. Harsh chemicals may strip the natural oils from your hair and result in breakage and poor hair growth. Dye, hair straightening and permanent solutions are highly destructive to the hair shaft and follicle as well because the delicate sebum balance of the scalp.
Be gentle along with your hair. Allow hair to dry naturally rather than using a hair dryer. A natural bristle brush is useful in preventing damage. Don’t style until completely dry. Wet hair is weak hair so handle with care. Avoid or break any bad habits you may have that pull or twist the hair. Try not to constantly run your fingers through your hair, tug on the hair and avoid hair clips or rubber bands that pull at and break off the hair. Minimize the usage of mousse, gels and hair sprays. These products dry and weigh down the hair shaft and dull the natural luster of your hair. Avoid salt and chlorinated water when swimming. If exposed, always wash the hair with cool water and an organic gentle shampoo and apply a mild conditioner. Sun worshippers should guantee that hair care products have sunscreen properties to guard hair from the damaging affects of UV rays. Remember to wear a hat to stop sunburn of the scalp.
Hair loss is traumatic, however our hair is simply part of who we’re. I remind myself to maintain my obsession with my hair loss in perspective and be proud of all the opposite areas of my life which can be going right and in balance. Concentrate on the positive, eat well, rest well and be at peace with who you are. Remember, that for some, hair grows back as mysteriously as it disappeared.
About the Author: Marlene Affeld’s passion for the environment and all things natural inspire her to put in writing informative and insightful articles to help others in living a Green Lifestyle. For more Green Living info from Marlene visit Nandu Green at http://nandugreen.com/index.php/Green-Lifestyle/Sustainability.html