What causes hair loss in women over 50?
Around menopause, estrogen levels go down; hair follicles become finer, resulting in thinner hair. Fifty percent of women will experience some hereditary thinning by age 50, some as early as 20 or 30. The good news: Baldness in women due to hereditary hair thinning is extremely rare. But hair thinning based on genetics is common and can come from either parent. It may also come from other factors you can control.
Female pattern hair loss usually shows up as a more prominent part, thinning on the top or receding in the corners of the frontal hairline.
Increased hair shedding is also a common hair loss problem. It can be triggered by having a baby, increased stress, severe illness, and certain medications such as birth control pills or chemotherapy agents. The first sign may be extra hair in the shower, on the pillow or in the hairbrush. Count the hairs for a day to see if it is really excessive. (Loss of 100-200 hairs /day is normal and is the amount your body will replace.
What can I do?
1. Consult a Dermatologist: Shedding is often temporary and will resolve within several months. If the problem continues, see a dermatologist to find out if there is a treatable medical cause. Low blood count or anemia and low thyroid function can cause hair shedding that resolves with treatment of the underlying problem
2. Check Your Diet: Eating adequate a mounts of protein is important for healthy hair since the hair is made up of protein. Some vegans may be prone to hair shedding due to a low protein diet.
3. Be Gentle: Careful treatment of the hair and avoiding overuse of chemicals is important, especially for African-American women. Gentle hair care, avoiding overuse of chemical straighteners, perms, heat, hair dyes or tight rollers will preserve the health of your hair. If you do some of these hair treatments, spread out the interval and avoid doing two treatments such as color and straightening at once.
4. Treat Your Stress: If you are going through a stressful time, it may help to try meditation, yoga or regular aerobic exercise to maintain balance.
5. Consider Vitamins: If you are not certain you are getting sufficient nutrients in your diet, a multivitamin that includes zinc is a good idea. Biotin is a trace element that is often touted as an aid for hair growth. However, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support this.
6. Be Wary of Hair products: There are numerous shampoos, conditioners, and masques that claim to thicken hair. Again, there is not a lot of proof supporting this claim.
7. Consult a Dermatologist: Try topical Minoxidil, the only medication FDA approved for female pattern hair loss. Before starting treatment, see a dermatologist to be sure that the diagnosis is hereditary hair thinning.
8. Consider Hormone Replacement: This is often helpful if the underlying cause is estrogen deficiency. Your gynecologist can review your medical history to determine if this treatment is safe for you.
If there is no history of breast cancer in your immediate family, low dose hormone replacement is often effective in slowing down hair thinning at menopause.
9. Watch for New Information: Recent studies have shown that prostaglandin 2 or PGD2, a molecule of inflammation, inhibits hair growth in men and women. In fact, balding men have been shown to have high levels of PGD2.
The newest hair loss drug, setipiprant is a pill that blocks the PGD2 pathway. It may be available in topical form in the future. Could hair loss and balding be cured by 2020?
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