Thinning hair refers the process of losing hair gradually. Most of the people lose some certain number of hair. But when it exceeds this number it is called thinning hair. At the very beginning of this process, hair fall may seem very normal. When this process continues for a few weeks then it becomes a matter of great concern.
Recent studies have found 250% increase in hair fall. The range of age of affected people is 16-25. So you can easily imagine how awful the situation is. The matter of more concern is the affecting group is very young. Now you cannot say people will face hair fall at their late age. So don’t be surprised if you see a 16 years old boy or girl having extensive hair fall. After analyzing some factors, I draw a conclusion regarding the reason of thinning hair. Changing environment and stressful modern life style are the most responsible reason among all. Along these poor diet, hormonal imbalance, diabetes, emotion are also the issues you can mention.
However, these factors vary due to gender, age, food habit, lifestyle etc. The foremost problem that a person with thin hair faces is lack of confidence. They cannot present themselves confidently in front of other people. Secondly you cannot do any hairstyle with scanty of hair. All these words may sound fearing to you. But I just want to present the reality of thin hair so that you can easily drive yourself towards the ultimate solution.
Hair Thinning Causes and Prevention
Excessive hair fall leads to hair thinning; at some point of life, many people experience this problem. Before starting discussion on hair thinning I would like to mention some basic terms related to hair growth and hair fall.
Except palms of our hands and soles of our feet, hair grows on every external surfaces of our body. But perhaps hair on scalp is most liked and most noticeable irrespective of gender.
What is Hair?
In the outer layer of skin there are small anatomical sacs known as follicle. These follicles produce a type of protein known as keratin. Our hairs are made of these keratins. Newly produced keratins push older dead keratins outwards and hence our hairs are string of dead keratin cells. Our hair bulb is located at the bottom of the follicle. You can note another point that our hair grows about six inches a year.
How many Hairs we have?
It’s not easy to answer; average adults have 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on their scalp.
How much Hair Loss is normal and will not cause Hair Thinning?
Loosing around 100 hairs is normal, so loosing hair doesn’t necessarily a concern for us.
What is Alopecia?
You will find the word “alopecia” in hair thinning related resources a lot. Alopecia is simply a general medical term for hair loss. So when someone is talking about alopecia s/he is talking about hair loss.
Life cycle of Follicles and Hairs
As I mentioned above loosing around 100 hairs a day is normal (mostly from washing and brushing), so the question is, how it’s managed. Our scalp follicles have a life cycle. At any time, 90% of our hairs are at growing stage. If it was 100% we would see a bald period when we would be waiting for newly grown hairs. Luckily, that’s not the case.
Follicle life cycle has three different stages:
- Anagen: Its active growth stage of hair, which lasts two to six years.
- Catagen: Its transitional growth stage and lasts two to three weeks.
- Telogen: At this stage hair growth stops and follicles retracts from surface of the scalp. It is also known as resting phase and hair lasts for two to three months.
After telogen phase hair starts to fall and a new anagen phase began. I want to remind you the fact I mentioned above, at any time 90% of our hairs are at growth stage and 10% is at expelling stage. This is why we never notice the process, except normal hair fall. Our hair follicles go through 25-30 cycles during our lifetime.
Hopefully from the discussions above, it’s clear what is hair thinning. It’s only excessive hair loss or alopecia.
Common Causes and Prevention of Hair Thinning
I mentioned above that our hair is made of a type of protein called keratin. If we don’t get enough protein our body starts rationing and shuts down hair growth. So you need to make sure that you are taking enough protein from your diet. Fish, egg, milk and meat are good sources of protein; vegetarians have to go for alternative sources.
Excessive Vitamin A
You will always hear that vitamins and minerals are important for hair growth. But be careful, excessive vitamin A can cause hair loss.
Physical trauma like accident, illness or surgery can cause hair thinning. Physical trauma may affect follicle cycle and push more hair to shedding phase. Sometimes it is more noticeable after the trauma. Usually hair starts growing normally when body recovers.
Usually this type of hair loss is seen after birth of baby because giving birth of a baby is itself a physical trauma. If you are experiencing pregnancy related hair thinning I can assure you that there is nothing to worry. Your hair will start to grow normally after one or two months.
Like physical stress emotional stresses such as death of a loved one, divorce or any other mental stress can cause hair thinning.
Male Pattern Baldness
Because of genetic and male sex hormonal effect by the age of 60 more than 30% men experience hair loss. Some medications are available and hair transplant is another option.
Female Pattern Baldness
If you are a women form a family where women loose hair at certain age then there are possibilities that you will also suffer from it. Some medications are available to treat this.
Anemia because of iron deficiency is common among women and it may be one of the causes of hair thinning. Only iron supplement can stop hair loss in this case.
Underactive Thyroid Gland
Thyroid gland is a gland in our neck. It produces a hormone necessary for metabolism. So, underactive thyroid gland may cause many problems including hair thinning. It is determined by doctor after performing clinical tests and synthetic medication may be given which may stop hair loss.
Autoimmune Related Hair Thinning
Our immune system is designed to fight against foreign body. But sometimes it starts to attack ourselves. In autoimmune related hair thinning our immune system sees hair as foreign body and attacks. Doctors use some drugs including steroid injections to treat the problem.
Dandruff and Thinning Hair
Sometimes it becomes confusing whether hair loss is causing dandruff or dandruff triggers hair loss. Some people alleges that they are experiencing hair loss after being inflicted with dandruff. On the other side some people alleges that they are having dandruff after losing some hair. So deciding what causes what is really a puzzle.
When you are not sure about what is the root cause of what then approaching to solution is really a mirage. So there is no doubt that hair thinning and dandruff is linked to each other. But it is matter of concern how they are related and how it can be minimized to solve the problem.
Dandruff and Hair Loss
It is seen most of the people have dandruff on their scalp at any time of their life. They try many treatments spending too much money. Some people have succeeded in removing dandruff but failed to cure hair loss. They frequently lose hair even there is no dandruff. Now we can think from other side, if you lose all hair then there might not be any dandruff. But is this logical?
So how hair thinning and dandruff is related? Let’s think in a logical way. Experts say that hair loss and dandruff is related somehow indirectly. When you have dandruff in your scalp, it causes itching to skin of scalp. This itching and scratching causes further infection to entire scalp. So dandruff spreads all over the scalp. When it continuous for long time then scalp skin become weak. It makes hair follicles damaged so it loses hair-holding capability. This causes hair loses. Sometimes doctors prescribe their patient a medicine for treating hair loss. There is a component called minoxidil in these medicines and minoxidil contains alcohol. When alcohol is applied to the scalp, it becomes dry and causes itching. When you strongly feel itching and harshly scratch you scalp, you actually make your separate from hair follicles.
So it is scratching not your dandruff which is directly responsible for hair loss. But there some other condition similar to dandruff which are responsible for hair loss. Seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis are some condition that are similar to dandruff. So these conditions leads to hair thinning to some phase.
If these happen to you then you should wash your frequently. Some people stop washing hair because it leads to more hair loss. But if you don’t wash your hair regularly then the situation can further deteriorate.
So you have to treat your dandruff problem first. If it exist then you cannot remove your hair thinning issue. If you are treating your hair-thinning problem with Minoxidil or finasteride then you need to stop it or reduce its usage. But finasteride causes less dandruff in your scalp. But you cannot be sure what triggers hair fall problem all time. Then seek some expert opinion to identify the problem.
You can add aspirin to your shampoo and apply it to your scalp. It will keep your dandruff in check. First of all crash two aspirin into powder then mix it to your shampoo and rub your scalp. Then let it be for two minutes. Alternatively, you can also add tea tree oil to shampoo for improving the condition. Aloe vera gel is a natural solution for removing dandruff from root. Besides there are many home remedies for fixing dandruff. In every kitchen, baking soda is very common. Make your hair wet and apply some baking soda on your scalp properly. Do not apply shampoo on it. Rather wash your hair with cold water. More over apple cider vinegar is another easy way to remove dandruff. Mix some apple cider with same amount of water then apply it on your scalp and cover your hair for an hour. Try this treatment for two times per week.
Along all of these lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and coconut oil are equally effective in treating dandruff. When you bring dandruff problem to an end it is almost close to win the battle of hair thinning problem. Although it is a time consuming process so you have to have patient to remove dandruff from root and fix hair-thinning problem.
Obesity and Hair Thinning
There is a connection between weight loss and hair loss. It is very normal to lose some hair after losing some weight. Because your body goes through a complex biological process during this period. When you start losing weight your body gets less nutrient as a result your other body parts. Among the primary effects of losing is revealed through your hair loss.
But have you heard that even obesity can cause hair loss? Yes, you have read right thing. When you are overweight, some internal changes cause hair loss. Although overweight is not a direct cause of hair loss. Particularly in men, hair loss is mainly a genetic condition. In woman, hair loss is caused due to their various hormonal changes. However, many of may not be convinced that obesity also causes hair loss.
How obesity causes hair loss?
First, a person who is obese leads a sedentary lifestyle. This kind of lifestyle develops various health condition that promotes hair loss. When your physical activity level is very low, it leads your body lower blood circulation. When this incident happens your follicles gets less nutrition from the blood circulation so it becomes weak and you lose hair. At the same time it is seen that overweight people eat too, much fatty food particularly saturated fat, which is fatal reason of hair loss. On the other side fatty foods raises cholesterol level. When cholesterol is increased sebaceous glands becomes disturbed as sebum contains DHT, which causes hair fall. It is also seen most of the obese people suffer from hypertension or excess stress this condition also exacerbate the situation. Obesity also creates hormonal imbalance and hormonal sensitivity leads extreme hair loss.
In a study, it is seen that the higher the body mass index the higher chances of hair loss. Overweight is a key reason of various endocrinologic, hormonal and metabolic changes. Insulin resistance and up regulation of insulin is another key relation between obesity and hair loss. Insulin is associated with peptide hormones, which influence 5α-reductase activity. This activity promotes conversion process of testosterone dihydrotestosterone that is related with male pattern hair loss.
How to reduce chances of hair loss due to obesity?
A simple question may now arise that reducing weight can treat hair loss. It is a complex question to answer because multiple process like genetic, hormonal and metabolic processes are involved with hair fall reduction. However, some steps can improve the situation.
- Eat balanced diet containing vitamins, protein and minerals.
- Massage your scalp with herbal oil. It will reduce stress and increase blood circulation
- In your free time try to do meditation. It is good for keeping you away from mental disturbance.
- Drink antioxidant-containing tea that helps to burn fat. It also repair damaged hair.
- You can do a test of your thyroid gland to check whether it is stabilized or not. If you can stabilize then your hair loss will be slow.
- Working out for sometimes in every day basis will give you better physical and mental health that helps in improving hair loss.
Obesity and hair loss both are very complex health issues. Both are caused by hormonal reason. So it needs time to cure. But your mental condition can improve it more quickly.
Catastrophic Hair Loss
Hair loss is typically considered catastrophic for women. According to a survey conducted by Hairline International, the baldness support group, 78% of group female members did not feel like women anymore due to hair loss. 40% said that their marriage had suffered and suicide was considered by 63%. When women start to lose hair, they worry that they may go bald like men and their hormones may become masculinized. Total baldness and patchy baldness can happen to both women and men. In addition, they are not related to hormones.
Thinning Hair after the Menopause
Most women experience thinning of the hair all over the scalp and widening partings with age. This is considered normal. It can begin in the early 20s and women can have over half of their hair thinned by the age of 50. Hair thinning is more pronounced after menopause. Like male pattern, hair can become thinner at the front in women. The way hair follicles respond to testosterone in the blood in a balding men, is the same way as hair follicles respond to testosterone in women. Women also have very small amount of testosterone and this is considered normal. Hair thinning or balding does not mean that a woman has more testosterone. What it means is that hair follicles on her scalp are oversensitive. This may be inherited. The woman is not going to be very bald and there is no need to worry about that.
In rare cases, women may develop male pattern baldness. There may be other problems such as lumpy acne, deepening of the voice, hair on the face and irregular periods. In such case, it is possible that a tumor is producing too much testosterone. Seeing a doctor is important. Appropriate tests and measures can be useful.
Thinning of Hair in women can be caused by the following reasons:
- Age is a reason. In most cases, older women have thinner hair than younger ones.
- Heredity can also cause hair thinning.
- A hormone disorder can cause hair thinning. Underactive thyroid gland can be a cause.
- Drugs or side-effects of drugs can sometimes cause hair thinning.
- Iron deficiency can be responsible for hair thinning. Women who are vegetarians are likely to suffer from iron deficiency.
- Mental stress such as bereavement can be a reason.
- Severe physical illness such as severe infection or high fever can cause hair thinning. When the body fully recovers, the hair may grow again.
- Hair thinning can happen after childbirth for up to six months. But hair grows again later.
- Disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus can harm the connective tissue and cause hair thinning.
Treating Hair Thinning in Women
Looking after hair is useful. When hair thinning happens, hairsprays or hair dyes doesn’t need to be stopped. These don’t worsen hair thinning. Hairsprays and perms can actually disguise thinning by lifting the hair. It’s good to avoid hair relaxers and bleaches. Using hair colorants is OK on thinning hair.
Iron deficiency can cause hair loss, particularly when you are a vegetarian. It’s good to see a doctor and go for a blood test. Foods that are iron-rich include egg yolks, offal, lean red meat, pulses and dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C can help body absorb iron. Plenty of essential amino acid is in need for hair follicles. Adequate protein intake or amino acid supplement may be helpful. It’s useful to consult a doctor regarding this.
Regaine can facilitate slight hair regrowth in about fifty percent of women with hair loss. It can facilitate moderate regrowth in about thirteen percent women with hair loss. For women, only the two percent strength is suitable. Higher strength is used for men. Higher strength can cause dermatitis and facial hairiness in women. One in twenty women experience hairiness on the face even though the lotion is applied to the scalp. Hairiness happen sometimes on the upper lip, above the eyebrows and on the cheeks. The reason for this hairiness is still unknown. It is possible that from scalp to face, Regaine is carried through blood or passed onto face by pillow that comes in contact with both scalp and face. Continuation in use of Regaine causes facial hairiness to lessen over a year. Facial hairiness can also vanish within six months, if use of the drug is discontinued.
HRT that is of third-generation type and containing progestogen may be good for women with hair loss. Doctor’s advice is important regarding use of any drug.
Those who find hair thinning very distressful and sustaining regardless of use of drug, can go for hair transplantation. Hair transplantation works for both men and women.
Hair Thinning in Female with Age
Hair growth can start to slow down for women at age 40. As women age, the signs of aging hair such as discoloration, dryness, and thinning show up. By the time women hit 50, half of them suffer hair loss, as pointed out by the North American Hair Research Society. Hair goes through three stages. First phase is about growth. Second phase is about transition and the final one is resting phase. As women get older, hair spends more time in the last phase. This means that you are losing hair faster than they are growing back in. Unlike male hair loss, female hair loss involves gradual thinning all over your scalp.
As the body age, its ability to renew and regenerate cells lessen, leading to aging hair. Onset of menopause is often the cause behind aging and thinning hair, for women. Research suggests that decreased levels of progesterone and estrogen are associated with aging and hair loss. It is very common for aging women to experience such type of hair loss.
Apart from hair thinning, aging also causes gray hair, dryness and brittleness. About fifty percent of people develop some gray hair by the age 50. With age, cells stop producing pigment, causing hairs to turn gray. With age, hairs get drier. Oil glands do not produce oil efficiently as they shrink with age. When women are younger, oil gets to the hair follicle and naturally coats the hair. Production of oil gets reduced with age, leaving hair drier. With age, hair loses some of its elasticity and becomes brittle. Brittle hair however may be more related to the products that women use than age. Treating hairs repeatedly with hair straighteners, permanent dyes and bleaches can make hairs dry, stiff and prone to breakage.
Anti-Aging Hair Tips and Solutions
Increased levels of stress causes increase in hair loss in addition to the hair loss that happens naturally, as we age. It is useful to reduce stress by participating in breathing exercises or spiritual activities. Having adequate sleep is also important in reducing stress, which in turn, can help reduce hair loss.
Exercising can help your scalp act younger by boosting your hair follicles to encourage growth. Regular exercise can keep your entire body healthy as you age.
Consumption of well-balanced diet with adequate amount of protein can help body produce healthy hair cells and boost growth. A diet with vitamin A, E, C, Omega-3 fatty acids and calcium can keep hair healthy.
Reducing use of Heated Styling Tools
It is useful to reduce use of heated styling tools such as curling irons and flat irons. When you use them, it is good to make sure that they are on the lowest heat setting. It is also good to reduce contact time, which can help avoid damaging fragile fibers.
To help smooth the hair cuticles and add shine, deep-conditioning treatments on regular basis are highly useful.
It is good to avoid blow drying and dry hair naturally instead.
Those who find hair loss distressful can hide it using a wig or hat or a headscarf.
Laser therapy is in use in many hair clinics. Laser therapy gets hair from resting phase to growing phase.
Using Olive Oil
Using olive oil can help look and feel younger. It’s like a replacement for the oil that’s produced naturally and lessened gradually with age. It can help retain moisture and enhance texture and strength.
Hair Supplements and Drugs
Aging hair follicles can get nourishment from quality hair supplement vitamins and minerals. Hair growth supplements have silica, biotin, vitamin C and other natural ingredients. Supplements are designed to get into hair follicles with those ingredients to help increase hair diameter, strengthen existing hair and make hair look fuller.
Minoxidil has long been in use to treat male pattern hair loss. However, 2% or 5% minoxidil can also be used to treat female hair loss, which is FDA approved. It can enhance hair regrowth. Spironolactone is another treatment. It slows androgen production and helps stem hair loss. Propecia is another option, which however, is associated with. Birth defects.
Biotin pills are also helpful. These pills do not increase number of hairs. They facilitate buildup of protein and fatty acids in the hair shaft, which makes hair thicker and stronger.