It’s often wrongly assumed that thinning hair is the curse of middle-aged men. But a surprising number of women of all ages are faced with the horror of losing their hair too. In fact, almost 50% of women experience some form of hair disorder by the time they reach 50. The impact of this can be devastating for ladies living in a culture obsessed with image and beauty. In this article, we’ll look at various ways of tackling the problem of alopecia and attempt to shed light on how to stop hair loss in women.
Female Pattern Hair loss
It is perfectly normal to shed around 100-150 hairs a day, but if you are regularly losing more than that and your crown is becoming more obvious, your parting is getting wider, you notice clumps of hair in the shower or bath and your hair has become noticeably thinner or finer, you may be suffering from what is known as female pattern hair loss.
Also referred to as androgenetic alopecia, FPHL is most often attributed to genetics and commonly occurs after the menopause. However, cases have been cited in women as young as 20.
Other reasons for thinning hair in women
Before diagnosing yourself with female pattern hair loss, consult a doctor to eliminate the possibility of other types of thinning, which can be caused by specific medical conditions such as an iron deficiency (which can result in anemia), a thyroid problem, or an excess of male hormones (which is not unusual once estrogen levels drop after the menopause or if you are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome).
If, once you’ve ruled out these various health issues, you are certain that you are suffering from FPHL, don’t leave it untreated. Make an appointment to see a dermatologist (an expert in how to stop hair loss in women) who will examine your scalp, make a proper judgement on the seriousness of the condition and advise you on the best course of action.
Medical options to treat hair loss
Many women will experience an improvement in their scalp deficiency by making small changes to their diet or using alternative therapies and a more holistic approach (which we’ll discuss later). However, these treatments will usually only slow down the process. The best-case scenario is that you will go back to losing a normal amount of hair every day. In order to regrow hair, most women suffering from FPHL will need to seek medical help.
Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved solution to treat hair loss. By far the most consistently effective medicine for women suffering from severe thinning of the hair is the topical version of Minoxidil, found in the brand Rogaine. It is available in a liquid formula and as a mousse.
It is not fully understood how Minoxidil works. However, applying a 2% solution twice a day, women can expect to see some regrowth of their hair within 6 months. The most accepted explanation for this success is that the drug widens blood vessels and opens potassium channels. Because of this a higher volume of oxygen, blood and nutrients reach the hair follicles encouraging thicker, fuller strands to replace weaker, less resilient hair.
Minoxidil will only maintain the regrown hair and stimulate new growth if it is used continuously. Once treatment is discontinued, women can expect their hair loss to return within 60 days.
Other Prescription Drugs
Only around 60% of women experience positive results using Minoxidil. In some cases it has proved entirely ineffective, but there are other options available on prescription from your GP.
Some of the most successful of these are antiandrogen medications. These can delay the process of hair loss, and in some case even regenerate hair growth.
Antiandrogen medications work to inhibit the male hormones that can cause hair loss in females.
Finasteride is particularly powerful in the treatment of thinning hair, but may cause severe side-effects in women. It is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and works by blocking the enzyme that monitors and regulates androgen production. It is only FDA approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness, but can result in birth defects if used by pre-menopausal women.
How to stop hair loss in women using natural remedies
Genetics are genetics. If you a pre-disposed to losing your hair, you can’t change that fact. However, you can make some lifestyle alterations that will help maintain and care for the hair you have, giving the best chance of reducing future hair loss. But if you’re looking for a quick-fix, these aren’t the best solutions for you.
It is vital to get enough iron in your diet to develop strong, healthy hair. Vegetarians, vegans and women with anemia should up their intake of leafy greens, like kale and spinach. Other fantastic sources of iron include tofu, lean red meat and beans.
It may also be worth supplementing biotin and zinc, to essential nutrients for hair growth.
Stimulate the scalp
Massage coconut oil into your scalp for a few minutes every day. Use your fingertips in a circular motion and apply medium pressure before cleaning your hair with shampoo; dermatologists suggest that circulation in the scalp can be improved using this method, allowing hair follicles to be fed with the necessary nutrients vital for root stimulation and hair growth.
There are other ways to increase the volume of your hair without the use of medication which are discussed at length in the article How to Thicken Hair Naturally.
Minimize and disguise hair loss with the best styling routine
Choose the right hairbrush
Certain brushes or combs with metal bristles or made from hard plastic can weaken hair by causing breakage. Round metal brushes can be particularly harmful when used with a hairdryer, because of the level of heat. It is much better to use a flexible nylon brush or one made of gentle bristles.
It is also vital not to brush out knots in the hair too vigorously as this can weaken the follicle, meaning that more hair falls out than is normal.
Change the direction of your parting
If you brush your hair repeatedly in the same direction, it will lie flat to the scalp, which will make it look less voluminous. Changing the direction you part your hair will give it a boost and it will seem fuller and thicker.
In general, it is best to avoid using too much heat when styling your hair. Letting your hair dry naturally, instead of using a blow-dryer, will promote healthy growth. If you feel you can’t live without your tongues or hair-straighteners, choose devices with adjustable heat-levels and always select the lowest.
Excessive heat doesn’t necessarily have an impact on how well your hair grows, but it will cause the breakage that gives the appearance of thin, lank hair.
The right option for you
Some women will not be comfortable committing to a lifetime of taking Minoxidil every day, whereas others might not respond well to lifestyle changes. When learning how to stop hair loss in women, weigh up your options and decide upon the best course of action for you.