Are your eyelashes thinning? Are your eyebrows suddenly looking a bit sparse? Is the hair on your head thinning? If you haven’t waxed, lasered, or shaved your entire bush – is it randomly balding?
Where is this hair going? Is there a menopausal hair fairy that comes in the middle of the night? These hairs are valuable – at least leave me a present under my pillow.
To make matters worse, as these hairs are mysteriously falling off it seems others are sprouting up in the most bizarre place – my chin! These hairs are driving me crazy. My make-up mirror is failing me and suddenly my rear-view mirror is my new best friend. It is able to telescope in on these sprouting danglers. Thank G-d I now carry my tweezers in my purse! If you are in perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause, you will be happy that your tweezers are always with you. However, you must be willing to Sign the NO TWEEZING and DRIVING Campaign.
According to Cleveland Clinic, it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss. Hair loss or alopecia in women can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and change your quality of life.
There are different types of hair loss. The most common type of hair loss in women is called androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern hair loss (FPHL). Hair follicles shrink, causing the hair to become thinner and finer, with decreased numbers of hairs overall. The hair’s growing phase also gets shorter and fewer hairs are in the active growing phase.
Dr. Alison Bruce, M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist presented information on common causes of midlife hair loss and new therapy options at the 2021 North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting. She states, “Usually in female pattern hair loss, the frontal hairline stays about the same, but there can be a widening of the part and a central thinning of the hair.”
What are some common causes of hair loss?
- Menopausal Hormone Imbalance: Shifting ratio between estrogen and androgen changes, so you have less estrogen and relatively more androgen. Normal aging is associated with hair loss and skin pigmentation changes, according to at least one study that also states that administering estrogen might delay skin aging. However, the use of HRT to relieve hair loss has not been well studied.
- Thyroid Disease: Sluggish thyroids that control metabolism, body temperature, and weight can also be to blame for hair loss. Many of the symptoms of menopause are similar to a thyroid condition and that can be confirmed with a thyroid blood test panel under a physician’s care.
- Diet: Your body’s levels of zinc and iron and play a role. In addition to checking these levels, your doctor may check your ferritin levels. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron.
- Genetics: Dr. Bruce explains that a genetic cause doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily something you’ve inherited directly from your Mom and Dad. There are multiple different genes related to hair loss, and this is a very complex interplay of many genes. Nor should you feel as if you’ve done something to cause our hair loss if you are otherwise healthy.
- Extreme Stress: This condition is called Telogen Effluvium. Telogen Effluvium is the second most common type of hair loss diagnosed by dermatologists, after androgenetic alopecia. This hair loss can be temporary.
- Medications: This article from Healthline has a very comprehensive list of medications that might be contributing to your hair loss. Here are a few that they mention: high doses of Vit A, acne meds, some antibiotics, antifungals, anti-clotting drugs, some cholesterol-lowering drugs, immunosuppressants, anticonvulsants, blood pressure meds, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, weight-loss meds, meds for gout, and chemotherapy.
Hair loss is a progressive problem…the goal is to slow the loss and manage expectations. Here are some possible solutions to discuss with your dermatologist. Hair you go:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) 5%is the only topical medication approved by the FDA for female-pattern hair loss. The once-daily use foam treatment regrows hair in 81% of the women.
- Finasteride (Propecia) which is an effective treatment for men, is often prescribed “off label” for women at a different dose.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatments: Researchers at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus completed a clinical trial designed to validate platelet-rich plasma to treat hair loss in women. The results, published in the Journal of Dermatological Surgery, found PRP to be effective in regrowing hair when injected into the skin of the scalp. In this treatment, platelets are isolated from the patient’s own blood. The resulting concentrated platelets are then injected into the scalp. Take the time to listen to this Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Regenerative Medicine Takes on Hair Loss and listen to two of the principal investigators on this study: Alison Bruce, M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist and principal investigator of the study, and Shane Shapiro, M.D., medical director of the Regenerative Medicine Therapeutics Suites on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. They speak to the point that often women find injecting the platelet-rich plasma into their scalp helps to stimulate the sleepy follicles and can be used successfully in conjunction with other medications such as Minoxidil
- Hormonal Therapies used Off-label – Spironolactone, a blood pressure medication that is a diuretic (a drug that increases the production of urine) can prevent hair loss from worsening and restore hair growth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Other drugs block the effects of circulating androgens or lower androgen levels. Other drugs block the effects of circulating androgens or lower androgen levels.
- Low-level Light Lasers These laser combs, helmets, and other devices can be used at home without a prescription. The laser light has been shown to stimulate hair growth in a few studies, according to the AAD.
Finding the ‘Root’ Cause of Hair Loss Is Important. If you’re bothered by your thinning hair or hair loss, visit your dermatologist! We know how important our hair is to our overall self-esteem.
In the meantime, get creative with a new fun style that can make your hair loss less noticeable. It is not exactly “modern medicine”, but today we have access to hair extensions, clip-on, scalp camouflages, and oodles of accessories that can add the appearance of length and fullness without anyone knowing.
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN.
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*EllenDolgen.com does not recommend, endorse or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.