While the fountain of youth may not have been found (unless you’ve paid to see it in St. Augustine, Florida of course) many relate long flowing locks and a full head of hair to the appearance of youth and health. So if you’re one of the many women that have noticed your hair line thinning or receding well before menopause, know you’re not alone in the frustration. It is important to know there are many causes to premature female hair loss, and a few treatment options as well.
Whether you notice hair thinning when you’re in your twenties or your forties, there are a few medical conditions that can cause premature hair loss in women. One of the most common causes is a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, and is associated with multiple cysts on the ovaries, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Ask your OBGYN if you are at risk and treatment options, including oral contraceptives that may help to balance hormones. Thyroid imbalances such as hypothyroid or hyperthyroid are another cause. Symptoms associated with thyroid imbalances can include weight gain, fatigue, heart palpitations, or insomnia. Your primary care provider can run a blood test to check your thyroid levels. Some autoimmune conditions exist that can lead to hair loss as well, including lupus and psoriasis. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have noticed any other symptoms such as bone pain or sun sensitivity.
Hormonal imbalances, including those associated with PCOS discussed earlier, can also cause premature hair loss in women. Many women have too much testosterone or too little of estrogen, or the other way around, which can cause hair loss. Irregular or missed periods are often clues this may be the cause. Be sure to tell your OBGYN at your yearly visit if you’ve noticed hair loss. Many birth control pills help to regulate hormones which can help those that have noticed hair loss.
Recent move, divorce, surgery, or pregnancy? Stress to the body, regardless of emotional or physical cause, takes a significant toll on the body, even if you are handling the stressful event with grace. The stress side effects may be delayed, sometimes even a few months to a year, before they are noticeable. Surgeries, illnesses, and pregnancy are very common causes of hair loss, and require patience. The hair typically regrows within a few months after the event. If a life stress has occurred, it’s important to take care of yourself. Be sure to include daily exercise and a healthy diet to help manage stress the healthy way.
Trying to lose the last few pounds from the holidays and skipping a few lunches? You might be harming yourself and contributing to hair loss if you don’t include essential nutrition. The same can be said by eating a fast food/high sugar diet. Iron, vitamin D (also from the sun), healthy fats and protein are essential for healthy hair growth. Try to include almonds, avocadoes, and fish on a regular basis. Including a daily multivitamin and biotin can also help to supplement your healthy diet.
Once the cause, or lack of, has been established, various treatment options exist. If a medical condition or nutritional deficiency is to blame, correcting or treating the underlying condition is necessary. If the hair loss is caused by stress, surgery, or a prior illness, patience and healthy habits are required. Hormonal imbalances, as stated above, can be treated with oral contraceptive pills. If genetics have predisposed you with a fate to match the hair types of your mother and grandparents, you can thank them kindly. Rogaine is a commonly used topical treatment to treat hair loss. IF you plan on having children, stick to the Rogaine for women. Otherwise you can use Rogaine for Men. Be patient, any improvement can typically take a few months to be noticeable. Various hair loss treatment centers exist, which may offer laser treatment, transplants, and supplements/creams. While these aren’t recommended first line, research is headed into exciting territory with hopefully more treatment options for women with hair loss. Steroid shampoos can be used as well if an inflammatory process has caused hair loss, such as with psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. A healthy diet and daily exercise cannot be overstated with hair and skin care. Visit your dermatologist to see which treatment plan is right for you.
For more information and tips, see our Facebook and Google+ pages.