Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Hair loss is not just a problem affecting middle aged men and is becoming an increasingly common complaint amongst women. It can be distressing and have huge impact on self-image and confidence levels.
A common cause of hair loss in women is a condition called Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL), previously called Female Androgenetic Alopecia. Alopecia is a term that’s been in the public eye lately, particularly because of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and that ‘incident’ at the Oscars. But alopecia merely means hair loss, of any cause. FPHL affects over 10 % of women over the age of 40 years and becomes increasingly common with age, with 40% of women over 50 years affected.
There is a clear association between male pattern hair loss and testosterone levels, but in women the link is tenuous as many women with FPHL have normal testosterone levels. One theory is that normal levels of testosterone act on hair follicles in genetically susceptible individuals. This means in some women certain genes may contribute to causing the condition. The genetic factors are complex and cannot be used reliably to predict which individuals will be affected by FPHL, but they certainly play their part. (1)
Oestrogen also plays a part as Oestrogen prolongs the growth phase of the hair (2), which means hair loss may be more pronounced after Menopause.
Both an underactive and overactive thyroid gland can contribute to hair loss, particularly if the condition has been ongoing and undetected for a long time. The hair loss is usually diffuse and involves the whole scalp. Successful treatment of the thyroid disorder should result in regrowth, but this may take several months and may not be complete.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition whereby women may have excess levels of male hormones (androgens) present, and this may result in acne, irregular periods, excess body hair and hair loss. If you suspect this, it’s always best to seek medical advice.
Vitamin D is important for hair growth. Studies have shown that in people with form of rickets whereby the body fails to recognise Vitamin D, there was resultant hair loss from scalp and body (3).
In addition, studies have shown a link between a condition known as Alopecia Areata, in which there is patchy hair loss without scarring, and low Vitamin D levels. (4)
Low iron levels have been linked to hair loss with some controlled studies showing iron supplements improved hair growth in a condition known as Telogen Effluvium (5), which results in chronic shedding of hair over months. Some studies have shown that maintaining iron levels >70 ng/dl can improve hair regrowth.
The Vitamin B Complex consist of 8 water soluble vitamins, of which riboflavin (B2), biotin (B7), folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies have been associated with hair loss.
This is an essential amino acid that is thought to increase the absorption of iron. In one study, some of the participating women only managed to increase their serum iron levels to a small degree with iron supplements alone, with the addition of L sysine causing a significant increase. (6)
Hair loss is a well-established sign of Zinc deficiency, with supplementation in deficient individuals resulting in hair regrowth. A study of 118 people with chronic Telogen Effluvium found that 9.6 % had Zinc deficiency. (7)
To understand this its crucial to understand the lifecycle of a hair.
Each of the ca. 100 000 hairs on the head independently goes through a growth cycle consisting of three phases: anagen (3–6 years), catagen (1–2 weeks), and telogen (2–4 months). Anagen is the growth phase, catagen is a transitional phase and telogen is a resting phase after which the hair falls out. (2) The hairs on a person’s head are all at different stages in this cycle so that only 10% would be in the telogen phase at one time. Its normal to lose approximately 100 hairs per day.
In male and FPHL, there is shortening of the hairs which become thinner at the shaft. In addition, the hairs become much finer or ‘vellus ‘hairs which have a shorter anagen phase which causes them to decrease in length. Unlike in men, this process doesn’t happen to the same degree of severity so that total baldness is rare. The pattern of hair loss is also different with women losing hair predominantly from the midline parting and men from the temples and crown.
This occurs when a trigger causes an increased number of hairs to enter the telogen or resting phase. These hairs are then shed all at once 2-3 months later. Triggers can include:
The condition may be acute, lasting less than 6 months or chronic, lasting more than 6 months. Most cases of acute Telogen Effluvium will completely resolve with treatment of the underlying cause. In 1/3 of those affected no underlying cause is found (8), however 95% of people will make a full recovery. The chronic condition has a more variable outcome, but there are treatment options which may reduce hair loss.
Regaine for Women is licensed for use in FPHL in women aged 18-65 years. It works by shifting hairs from the telogen (resting) phase to the anagen (growth) phase. As a result, telogen hairs fall out and this can culminate in an increased shedding of hairs 2-6 weeks after treatment. This is usually temporary and should subside within a few weeks.
It may need to be applied twice daily for at least 3-4 months before the effects are realised. Continued application is needed to maintain the hair growth, otherwise the newly grown hair may be shed within a few months. A recent Cochrane review looked at data from 17 trials and concluded that a greater number of people who used Minoxidil reported increased hair growth than compared with those who used a placebo. (9)
Higher Iron levels in the blood have been shown to be associated with improved hair growth. Florisene for women contains a highly absorbable form of Iron as well as L lysine and Vitamin C which aid iron absorption. It also contains other vitamins and minerals to promote hair growth such as vitamin B12 and C.
This is a supplement that is high in Proteoglycans. Proteoglycans are ‘macromolecules’, they have a protein core attached to other complex sugars. As well as being miniature building blocks for cells, they are pivotal in regulating many metabolic processes including hair growth. It has been discovered that specific proteogylcans are necessary for the development and maintenance of a healthy anagen phase. Years of research have culminated in the development of a formulated product, Nourkrin, containing a specific mixture of proteoglycans aimed to treat hair loss. So far, the results are promising. (10)
Perfectil Hair is a multivitamin supplement targeted at hair growth. It contains 28 micronutrients including biotin to keep the hair healthy.
Biotin and Collagen are essential to the structure of hair follicles. Animal studies with Biotin supplements have been promising and shown an improvement in hair thickness and condition.
Try to reduce your stress levels, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and consider a hair growth supplement such as Perfectil hair. If your hair loss is patchy or you have scarring, its best to see your doctor who may consider doing blood tests to look for specific conditions such as Thyroid problems or exclude deficiencies of essential nutrients.
The simple answer is yes, but some investigative work may be needed to try and pinpoint what is contributing to the problem. Most women with sudden shedding of hair (Telogen effluvium) experience complete recovery.
There isn’t one specific hormone that helps. Often hair loss is greater after menopause, but HRT has not had a proven beneficial effect on hair growth. Certainly, thyroid hormones can play a part, but should only be supplemented after blood tests and a consultation with a doctor.
Generally, a supplement that contains the essential nutrients for healthy hair, such as Vitamin D iron, B vitamins, Biotin and Zinc. Perfectil has all of these in good proportion and is aimed to improve hair growth.