This is probably the first and most obvious question to ask, when you begin to realise that you are losing hair by more than just the odd handful when you wash or brush it. It is normal to lose up to 125 hairs a day – most of which you won’t even notice – but if you are finding your hairs everywhere but on your head, you may feel that there is a problem.
Why am I losing my hair?
Your unusual hair loss can be attributed to one of three causes:
- Telogen effluvium is the fancy name for the condition whereby the fair is forced into the resting phase – often by medications you may be taking, by hormonal changes (such as during the post-partum period), autoimmune disorders, a physical or emotional shock, surgery, and crash dieting. A few months after the hair has been forced into the resting or telogen phase, it will enter the shedding phase. Effluvium is Latin for out-flow, or in the case of hair, fall-out.
- Anagen effluvium describes hair loss during the growth phase. It develops very quickly and is usually a reaction to cytostatic drugs, which people take to treat cancer. However, because the hair follicles are simply in a state of suspended growth, when the drug-treatment is completed, hair growth will resume immediately, and within a month, new hair will appear.
- Androgenic alopecia – or female pattern baldness – can also be the cause, although this is much rarer in women than in men. Hair loss at the hair line and on the crown will develop, but rarer still, is baldness to the extent that men often experience.
What can I do about female hair loss?
There are many solutions to hair loss for women – particularly because the most common cause is telogen effluvium, and controllable environmental factors can be addressed.
- Sometimes, it is enough just to “watch and wait”. Certainly, in the case of post-partum hair loss, it is simply a matter of time before hair will grow in again.
- A healthy, balanced diet which includes essential fatty acids, protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals, as well as the usual carbs and fibre, is advisable for achieving good general health – and this includes your hair growth. Over-eating and crash-dieting never did anyone any favours.
- Consult your doctor if you feel that your hair loss is a symptom of something underlying that you can’t quite pinpoint on your own – blood tests may reveal a hormonal or autoimmune disorder.
- If you are taking medication for another condition, which is causing hair loss – again, talk to your doctor. They may be able to tweak your dose, recommend a different drug, or simply reassure you.
- If you are experiencing emotional stress – counselling may help you to manage your situation more consciously, and regain better physical health.
Do shampoos and topical treatments work for women?
There are lots of shampoos on the market which claim to give you thicker, fuller hair. It is up to you whether you want to try them, and draw your own conclusions as to their effectiveness.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical treatment that is widely used to promote hair growth in men and women who are experiencing androgenic alopecia. Finasteride, which is available for the treatment of male pattern baldness, is not approved for women of childbearing age due to the risk of birth defects in a developing foetus. However it is sometimes given to menopausal or post-menopausal women, off-script.
What type of wig should I choose?
Wearable hear comes in all sizes, styles and colours. You can even choose what your wig hair is made from – synthetic or human hair. Most importantly, you should choose a wig that has a breathable cap, and fits well – if it is something you will be wearing all day, it needs to be comfortable!
Can a hair stylist help?
Yes! A really professional hair stylists is very good at advising you about the best style for the shape of your face, your age, and your colouring, that will make the very best of thinner hair. Consider layers, a mix of dark and light tones, hot rollers to add volume, and a host of other everyday strategies to make your hair look thicker.
Can I get a hair transplant?
If your hair loss is genetic and a dermatologist or hair specialist has diagnosed female pattern baldness, then a hair transplant is certainly worth considering. A specialist will extract hair follicles from the base of your scalp where the hair is resistant to androgenic alopecia and graft it onto your hairline and scalp to achieve fuller, thicker hair growth. Once the transplant has had time to recover, hair growth will resume and your hair will start to look great again.