Hair Loss Risk Factors as We Age
When we talk about the causes of hair loss in women, while there is typically a primary cause, we often talk about it being multi-factorial, as there can be many contributing factors. Some of the most common contributing factors including stress, diet, postpartum, hormonal changes, and aging. While these can happen at any time, there are certain age groups that are certainly at higher risk for each of these potential causes of hair loss. Below we will look at different age groups and examine potential risk factors to be on the lookout for.
Ages 20 to 30 – Nutritional Deficiencies
What feeds your body feeds your hair and young women are at especially higher risk for nutritional deficiencies. Nutrition plays a key role in hair health as the hair follicle is an extremely complex structure that requires specific vitamins and nutrients to grow healthy and vibrant hair. Unfortunately, many of the vitamins and nutrients needed by the hair follicle are also needed by key organs in our body and when we are deficient in these, our body does not give them to our hair. One study conducted in Australia in 2014 on 308 women between the ages of 18 and 35, found a high rate of iron, vitamin B12, and selenium deficiency, which are all known to play an important role in hair health.
Ages 30 to 45 – Genetic Hair Loss
Androgenic alopecia, more commonly known as Female Pattern Hair Loss, is a genetic form of hair loss and is the most common form of hair loss affecting around 40 percent of women in their lifetime. Typically, androgenic alopecia will start for women in their early thirties, but it can take many years before they really notice. Over time, the hairs begin to thin in a process called miniaturization and over time the hair will disappear. The key to treating androgenic alopecia is starting early as it is easier to prevent a further loss than it is to regrow what was already lost.
Ages 45 to 55 – Hormonal Changes
Women’s bodies go through tremendous hormonal changes during our lifetime and after age 45 as women start to get into those premenopausal years, the hormonal changes can be drastic. The biggest issue becomes the ratio of estrogen (estradiol) to testosterone. Testosterone is one of the biggest drivers of androgenic alopecia, but when the hormones are in balance and the estrogen and progesterone levels are normal, the testosterone does not have the same effect. Right before menopause and during menopause, the levels of testosterone and estrogen decrease, but not at the same rate. Your estrogen levels drop 75-80%, while testosterone only drops around 20-25%, which means the ratio of testosterone to estrogen increases and this is not good for your hair and can accelerate androgenic alopecia.
Age 55+ - Rejuvenation Slows
Unfortunately, as we age, our body does not rejuvenate itself the way it did when we were younger. Once we reach about 60, we definitely see this with our hair. Our hairs are not only grey, but they are thinner and there will be less of them. It is important to be careful with your hair as any damage we cause them, will not be repaired as efficiently, since our bodies are not able to rejuvenate in quite the same way it did before.
Whatever age you may be experiencing hair loss, you have options for treatment. Schedule your consultation today to take back control of your hair loss and rewrite your hair story!
The 7 Leading Risk Factors for Female Hair Loss.
While genetics is certainly the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women, it is not the only cause. The hair follicle is an extremely complex structure that needs constant nourishment to stay healthy and unfortunately, there are many factors that can affect the health of the hair follicle. For most women, hair loss is a multifactorial condition, meaning it has multiple factors that could be causing or aggravating the condition. Below are 7 of the leading risk factors for female hair loss.
Genetics certainly play a big role in whether we may or may not experience hair loss. The truth is that if anyone in your family (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.) has hair loss, it is possible that you have a genetic disposition to hair loss. As many as 30 million women in the United States are affected by this hereditary condition and the loss of hair can occur at any age although the most common age is between 50 and 60 years old.
One of the biggest contributing factors to hair loss is stress. When stress levels are consistently high or you have an extremely stressful event, this can cause a shock to your system. In terms of your hair, this can cause an unusually high number of hairs to move to the telogen phase, which is also known as the resting phase and no more growth occurs. This is what causes increased shedding. Incorporating stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or exercise is extremely important.
- Poor Nutrition
The hair follicle is made up of some of the most metabolically active cells in the body, which means it requires proper nutrition to function properly and grow healthy hair. The problem is that many of the nutrients that the hair follicle needs to be healthiest, vital organs of our body also need. When we are deficient in these vitamins and nutrients, the body diverts them to places it feels are more important for survival, and our hair suffers.
You may have heard reports of patients with COVID-19 experiencing hair loss. The truth is that any illness, especially when it includes fever, has been known to cause shedding four to six months after the onset. When you are sick it is a real shock to the body and the stress that it causes to the body is what actually induces hair loss. It takes around 3 for the shedding to occur as the hairs need to transition from the growth (anagen) phase to the resting (telogen) phase, which is when the shedding occurs.
- Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones play a significant role in the health of our hair, both positive and negative. Women experience natural hormonal fluctuations that can impact the health of the hair, but hormonal imbalances can also occur from thyroid disease, birth control, or hormone replacement therapy. Over the last five years, we have seen an increase in the number of women utilizing hormone replacement therapy and some of these therapies can increase hair loss.
Almost everyone will have some degree of hair loss as we age due to the shortening of the hair life cycle that happens over time. Believe it or not, we are constantly losing hairs every day as old hairs fall out and that is normal as new ones grow in. This life cycle for a single hair can be anywhere from two to eight years, but over time it shortens, which is why it is more difficult to grow your hair as long as you did when you were younger. This shortened life cycle also means, the hairs are often not as thick and the density is less. For those experiencing hair loss, they are often seeing fewer new hairs grow in and the hairs that grow in are not as healthy.
- Scalp & Follicle Health
Women invest a lot of time into their hair care routine, but unfortunately, these styling techniques are often not the best options for scalp and follicle health. Hairstyles that cause constant pulling, like extensions, tight ponytails, or corn rolls can be quite damaging to the follicles. Permanent chemical straighteners, relaxers, or colors can result in brittle or dry hair. Excessive heat from straighteners or blow dryers can not only dry out the hair but can cause burns on the scalp.
You may not be able to outrun your genes or your age, but you can take steps to give your hair a fighting chance against these risks as there are options to counteract or slow down hair loss caused by all of the risk factors listed above. Take some time to evaluate your risk factors and make sure to schedule a consultation with a hair loss specialist that can customize a treatment plan for you.
Ask Medi Tresse Anything – Is Hair Loss Reversible
Roughly 70% of our patient's list regrowth as one of their goals on their patient intake forms.
Now the short answer to this question is, it depends. Obviously, that is not helpful so let’s look at why it depends and how we set proper expectations with our patients. To answer this question, we need to look at two main variables, what is causing the hair loss and how long the hair loss has occurred.
Before we go further, it is important to set expectations about what we mean by reversible. We are never going to have the hair we had 20 years ago, but for many types of hair loss, we are able to see both thickening of existing hairs and regrowth of some of the hairs that were lost, however again it depends on the type of hair loss and when the loss occurred.
Diagnosing the type of hair loss is the most important step of any treatment plan because it helps us identify not just the best treatment options, but allows us to properly set expectations for what we can accomplish treatment. So, let’s look at each type of hair loss and what we can typically expect.
The good news is that with the most common type of hair loss, androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss), we can typically see some reversal of the hair loss, but how much depends on how long the loss has occurred.
The second most common type of hair loss, telogen effluvium (hair loss due to stressors) is almost always completely reversible. However, we must ensure that the stressor is also stopped. It could be a physical stressor on the body, like a medication, or it could be emotional stress.
Traction alopecia, which is caused by tight hairstyles like tight ponytails, cornrows, or extensions, can be reversed if the hairstyle is stopped and the loss has not occurred for an extensive period of time.
Alopecia areata has an auto-immune component to it and typically presents as patches of bald spots with sharp edges. While we can see significant regrowth with some types of alopecia areata, the problem is that even when that occurs, flare-ups are common, and the loss may occur again.
We are seeing an increase in the incidence of scarring alopecia, which is much harder to treat, and see some regrowth, but not impossible. The issue with scarring alopecia is the hair follicle is actually damaged and once that occurs it most likely will not produce hair again, which is why we need to treat it early and aggressively to have any chance to see regrowth.
One common thread in the ability to see regrowth for any type of hair loss is the amount of time that has passed since the hair loss occurred. While there is no magic timetable, this is why we stress the importance of seeing a hair loss specialist as soon as you think you are experiencing thinning hair or hair loss, especially as it is easier to prevent a further loss than restore what is lost. Most types of hair loss are progressive, which means they will most likely get worse without treatment, so if you think you are experiencing hair loss or thinning, meet with a hair loss specialist to diagnose the cause of your hair loss and start appropriate treatments.