HAIR LIFE CYCLE
Each hair follicle undergoes three stages of a life cycle:
Anagen: the active growing phase when the hair becomes longer and thicker; can last between 2-7 years.
Catagen: the short transitional phase when the hair fiber stops growing.
Telogen: the resting phase when the old hair is gradually pushed up towards the skin surface where it is then shed naturally and replaced with a new emerging anagen hair; lasts around 3 months.
This cycle continues repeatedly throughout our lifetime, with each hair follicle cycling independently of neighboring follicles, meaning each hair follicle is at a different stage at different times.
COMMON HAIR LOSS CAUSES
There are different types of hair loss, including:
Genetic: Since hair loss genes can be passed down by parents, there’s a chance you have a genetic predisposition to thinning hair. If this is the case, you may see a progressive, gradual reduction in hair volume. This happens because certain hair follicles are sensitive to male hormones, which causes follicles to gradually shrink and produce slightly finer and shorter hairs with each passing hair growth cycle.
Reactive: This means your hair loss is the result of a trigger and not reliant on having a genetic predisposition. It occurs as the result of an internal imbalance or upset, such as a nutritional deficiency, severe stress, crash dieting, or an illness. There are many potential triggers for hair loss and it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact reason why your strands are falling out, thus making it difficult to remedy the situation.
It is normal to lose between 50-100 strands a day, but if you notice you are losing much more than that, it can be a warning sign for underlying medical issues, so it is important to let your dermatologist know. Hair loss in women is very common and is nothing to hide or feel ashamed about, especially when it can give us clues about what is happening with our health and well being.
Here are some of the common causes of hair loss:
Hormones play a huge role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Oestrogens (female hormones) help to keep hairs in their growth phase for the optimal length of time, while androgens (male hormones) can shorten the hair growth cycle. An excess of androgens, which could be caused by an endocrine disorder, can cause hair loss. This often comes down to genes, so if you have a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity, a hormonal imbalance can affect your hair more than it would someone who does not have a predisposition.
LOW THYROID FUNCTION AND IRON DEFICIENCY
Two of the most common non-hereditary causes of hair loss are low thyroid function and iron deficiency. The thyroid gland helps to regulate the body’s metabolism by controlling the production of proteins and tissue use of oxygen, so any thyroid imbalance can therefore affect hair follicles. Iron is vital for hair growth as it contributes to the production of hemoglobin in your body, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to your hair’s cells. A lack of iron also means low haemoglobin levels, leading to loss of hair. A blood test can determine if there are the underlying issues so speak to your doctor to confirm.
Excess stress can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which in turn can cause hair loss. Stress may also trigger other things in the body that can have a negative impact on hair, such as causing scalp problems (such as. dandruff), disrupting eating habits, and messing with the digestive system.
VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
A lack of vitamin B12 can not only leave you feeling tired and low on energy, but can also affect your hair. Vitamin B12 deficiency often causes hair loss as it can affect the health of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues. You can primarily only obtain B12 through animal proteins, so it’s most common in vegans.
As we get older, our hair ages and naturally gets finer. If you’re going through or about to enter menopause, changes in your body may also have an effect on your hair. Hair loss becomes more prevalent leading up to and after menopause. It’s a totally normal part of the aging process.
The most common cause of hair loss in natural hair is traction alopecia, which is hair loss caused by repeated and prolonged pulling on the follicles. This is often due to wearing certain hairstyles such as braids and long dreadlocks. The pattern of hair loss mirrors where the hair is under the most strain and is typically over the edges/hairline.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT FEMALE HAIR LOSS
Since hair strands grow in cycles, it can take up to three months for hair to fall out after a trigger has caused it. If you notice excessive daily hair shedding for longer than three months, see your doctor, as there could be an underlying factor that needs to be addressed. However, try not to panic; excessive shedding is almost always self-eliminating and the hair will start to grow back as usual once any internal imbalance is put right. Again, female hair loss is common and if you are experiencing it, you are not alone and it is nothing to be embarrassed about!
Here are some things you can try:
Get more protein: Hair is made of protein, making adequate daily intake of protein-rich foods essential. Include at least a palm-sized portion of protein at breakfast and lunch.
Snack on complex carbohydrates: Healthy carbohydrates (i.e. fresh fruit, whole wheat crackers, etc.) provide hair with the energy it needs to grow. Snack on complex carbohydrates if longer than four hours is left between meals because energy available to hair cells drops after this amount of time.
Take a supplement: Supplements can help boost levels of vitamins and minerals available to your follicles. They must be taken alongside a healthy diet for full benefit. Look for ingredients such as: Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, and the essential amino acids (L-Lysine and L-Methionine). There are also supplements that are specifically made for preventing excessive hair loss and contain Zinc and biotin to stimulate healthy hair growth.
Change your styling: Avoid hairstyles that place stress on the hair and hair follicles, such as ponytails, and avoid heavy styling creams and serums, as they can add unnecessary weight to the hair. Also avoid harsh chemical treatments like relaxers and hair dye during this time.
Get a scalp/hair treatment: Our premier salon offers specialty scalp and hair treatments that are customized to your scalp and hair needs. Not sure which treatment is right for you? Book your complimentary scalp analysis with one of our expert stylists to find out!
The right products and treatments can help remedy hair loss, but don’t forget to also look at your general health, diet, the health of your scalp, and the condition of growing hairs for a more complete picture of what could be causing your hair loss. Due to the nature of the hair growth cycle, it can take at least six weeks to see an improvement, so above all, be patient!
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