Social Stigma of Hair Loss in Women

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 have 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 the 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.

First of all, don’t panic! Hair loss or hair shedding is consistent within the hair growth cycle and it is normal to lose some scalp hair each day. The average human scalp has roughly 100,000 to 150,000 individual hairs and the normal hair growth cycle results in the loosening or shedding of about 100 to 150 hairs on a daily basis. New hair growth then emerges from these same previous dormant hair follicles, growing at the average 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 have no 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 normal 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 does not grow back as readily as it falls out. A family history of androgenetic alopecia increases your risk of balding. Heredity also affects the age at which you begin to lose hair and the development, pattern and extent of your baldness.

What concerns us is 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 beauty of 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 evident 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 quality and quantity of our hair.

Hair loss is especially injurious to those who have professions or careers where physical appearance plays a significant role. A young woman is especially vulnerable to the stigma of balding. Not until we are confronted with the loss of our hair do we fully realize how essential hair is to our overall person.

A woman’s hair is at its thickest by age 20. Once we pass 20, however, our hair gradually begins to thin, shedding more than the normal 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 as well as her establish place in family and society are often 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 some degree of appreciable hair loss and about 75 percent are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60.

In men, hair loss is often 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 psychological pain of hair loss does not 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 inability 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 does not seem fair that for many of us hair loss is yet another blow to our self esteem.

Female pattern baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia is the most common type of hair loss in women and is genetic in nature. This type of female balding is caused by the chemical Dihydrotestosterone or DHT which builds up around 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 reasons why women lose hair. Surgery, extreme physical or emotional stress, hormonal imbalances, chemotherapy and scalp infections are but a few. Female hair loss can also be triggered by birth control medications, certain prescription drugs or result from the use of harsh chemicals or aggressive styling that can cause permanent damage to the fragile hair follicle. Excessive hair shedding may also be symptomatic of rapid weight loss from dangerous fad-dieting or an eating disorder such as anorexia. The use of street drugs such as cocaine will also exhibit sudden and severe hair shedding.

When To Contact A Medical Professional

Reacting intensely to the physical state of our thinning hair may seem like excessive vanity, but it is not. Baldness is 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 one of the first areas, along 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 is important 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 as a result you may experience significant growth of new hair.

Once you and your doctor have identified the cause of your hair loss you may be referred to a hair specialist or implant surgeon to learn about the treatment options available such as or hair transplant procedures to promote growth or hide loss. For some types of alopecia, hair may resume normal growth without any treatment.

A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, hydration and rest can go a long way 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.

Nutrition

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 may 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 is difficult to obtain sufficient lysine through diet alone. Lysine is important in 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 in 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 vital 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 heart as well as your hair so include salmon in your diet on a regular basis.

Herbal Remedies Offer Hope For Hair Loss

Discuss with your nutritional advisor or medical professional the

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Hair Loss Remedy – Vitamins, Minerals and Natural Supplements For Hair Loss – Nurse’s Report

Hair loss is also known as alopaecia, alopecia and baldness that happens in men, women and children. Hair loss refers to the loss of hair due to an increase in the rate of hair falling out and its not being replaced by new hair growth. Seeking natural treatment is the best remedy and vitamins, minerals and other supplements may or may not be taken safely as a hair loss solution. Many of the hair loss drugs on the market today require a daily dose for a lifetime. Besides being expensive, they all come with side effects and the benefits may not outweigh the risks.

It’s important to get diagnosed and know what is causing your hair loss. Business online If you’re an older man, chances are it may be male pattern baldness. You can also have your testosterone levels checked to see if they may be implicated. Decreasing them may not be possible though or advisable.

If the hair follicles are still alive and functioning then it may be worth a try to take some supplements that you may be missing in your diet to help stop losing your hair. Two things to remember though – a natural healthy diet of living foods (raw foods – fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) and lots of them is the best approach; wherein you have plenty of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients naturally available to help you grow your hair back and return yourself to your optimum state – it’s the best hair loss diet.

Secondly, it’s not known if vitamins, minerals and other supplements work if they’re not working in conjunction with nature’s natural chemicals – those that are a part of the living foods that the vitamins and minerals are also a part of. And the quality of the supplements is important also.

Cheap supplements may not be of the best quality and may not do you any good and may do you more harm as your body needs to get rid of them.

Keeping this all in mind I’m going to list the vitamins and minerals that are reported to be the best for enhancing or stimulating hair growth, again if the hair follicles are still alive. Make sure to get advice from your hair loss doctor or naturopathic doctor before you start taking any supplements. Some supplements can be harmful if you’re taking certain drugs or medications for example.

Take the following information with a grain of salt. New studies and research come out often and any new study or report can refute what has been reported in the past.

First of all the amino acids, arginine, cysteine, lysine and tyrosine, are used in hair loss treatment.

Arginine deficiency has been reported as one reason for hair loss.

Cysteine at dosages of 1,000 mg. to 2,000 mg. per day has been reported to spur hair growth and help stop hair loss. It’s supposed to help prevent free radical damage to the hair follicles. Some reports show that cysteine causes a noticeable improvement in hair growth. Eight percent of human hair is made up of cysteine. Many people who have thin or slow growing hair have reported they’ve noticed considerable improvement in their hair growth when they used 3,000 mg. to 5,000 mg. of cysteine per day.

Lysine deficiency can result in hair loss. Lysine is often used for herpes-related infections or prevention.

Tyrosine – when hair loss is caused by a low thyroid condition, called hypothyroid, tyrosine has been known to alleviate it.

Other supplements –

Enzymes in the form of superoxide dismutase (SOD) are supposed to decrease hair loss by inhibiting superoxide free radicals on nitric oxide.

A linoleic acid deficiency may result in hair loss, research suggests.

Minerals –

The important minerals to consider are copper, iron, silicon and zinc. Minerals need to be in balance with each other. Too much of one mineral in some cases can cause an imbalance in another. Make sure to get help from an informed health professional.

Copper can help stimulate hair growth if a copper deficiency is present and is involved in the prevention and possibly treatment of hair loss. Too much copper can actually cause hair loss. I have wondered whether the copper bracelets that used to be in vogue and may still be, for arthritis, would be worth a try.

Recently there have been good studies on iron deficiency as a possible cause of hair loss. Taking iron supplements is not a good idea though. Getting iron naturally in food would be a better choice. Too much iron can cause some serious health problems.

Potassium deficiency can be a cause of hair loss it’s thought.

Silicon is supposed to be able to stimulate hair growth. Silicon is present in cucumbers among other foods.

Early or premature hair loss may be a result of zinc deficiency so says some research. Again zinc can cause hair loss.

The sulfuric compound methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may help hair growth due to its sulfur content.

Vitamins –

Many vitamins may be involved in hair loss. Research suggests that hair loss or hair growth may be a result of deficiencies of these vitamins – biotin, folic acid, inositol and PABA (para aminobenzoic acid) and PABA may help to prevent hair loss due to its antioxidant properties.

The nicotinic acid form of vitamin B3, which is applied to the scalp, may help to improve blood circulation to the scalp (and may help stop the loss of hair) – you must have live hair follicles present. The suggested dose has been about 35 mg. of nicotinic acid daily.

Vitamin B5 deficiency causes hair loss in animals but hasn’t been proven in humans.

Vitamin C may help hair growth by improving the circulation of blood to the scalp.

Taking too much vitamin A can cause temporary and reversible hair loss it’s reported.

These are the vitamins and minerals and other supplements that have been researched, reviewed, studied or reported on in various medical journals. Before starting any hair loss treatment or remedy to help stimulate your living hair follicles and/or to prevent further loss, make sure you see your doctor first. If your hair follicles are not alive than it is unknown today what will help them short of hair transplant. Some cases of hair loss are reversed once the cause is known. Some cannot be reversed with what we know today. And be patient for whatever method you may decide to use.

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