While it is generally accepted that men lose their hair as they age, it is not often recognised that female hair loss is almost as common with an estimated 40% of women making up thinning hair sufferers, many suffering their hair loss in silence. The good news is that today there are more treatment options than ever for female hair. In fact, many women don't realise they can get thicker hair in just 30 seconds.
To best understand why females suffer hair loss it is important to understand how it grows.
The Anagen phase is the growth period for a hair follicle and can last anywhere from 2-5 years. This is followed shortly afterwards by the Catagen phase, a short 1-2 week transitional stage which signals the end of the active growth of the hair follicle. The final stage is known as the Telogen phase, a period where the hair follicle ‘rests’ for 3-6 weeks until a new hair shaft grows and pushes out the old hair, signalling a return to the Anagen phase to repeat the process again.
Female hair loss is caused when the balance between shedding of the hair follicle and regrowth is disturbed, this is created through either a shorter Anagen phase or an increase in the number of hair follicles in the Telogen Phase. There are many factors that can contribute to hair loss in women including genetics, stress and medical conditions.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss for women and affects about 50% of women over the age of 40 and up to 75% of women over the age of 65. For women Androgenic Alopecia is due to the action of Androgens, male hormones that are typically present in only small quantities in women. Their increased presence in women can be heredity or be created by numerous other factors including the onset of menopause, the taking of high androgen index birth control pills and pregnancy.
Androgenic Alopecia in women can be best characterised by the minaturisation of the hair follicle and a general thinning on all areas of the scalp.
Telogen Effluvium is characterised by the thinning of hair resulting from the early entry of the hair follicle from the Anagen phase (growth stage) into the Telogen phase (resting phase). For women it Is a common form of hair lose and is usually a reaction to stress on the body’s physical or hormonal systems, or as a reaction to medication.
For women Telogen Effluvium can occur at any age and the onset can happen quickly, however under normal circumstances it will get better on its own within about six months, although for a few people it can become a chronic problem.
Traction Alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss that is caused by localised trauma to the hair follicles. This trauma is often associated with women who frequently wear their hair in a particularly tight style like ponytails, pigtails or braids. It can also be caused through hairstyles like dreadlocks and extensions which can create the same effect. Typically for women affected by Traction Alopecia the hair loss occurs around the hair line, primarily the temples and the sides of the head, and if detected early enough the hair will regrow.
Alopecia Areata is one of the main causes of female hair-loss and is due to an autoimmune disease which effects more than 2 percent of the population. Alopecia Areata is caused when white blood cells attach and attack the hair follicles, with the result being the suppression or even stopping of hair growth.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatories that suppress the immune system and are used to treat autoimmune diseases that can cause hair loss, including conditions such as Alopecia Areata.
Corticosteroids can be administrated in three ways, injections directly into the hairless patches, orally which is utilised for more severe cases and by ointments or creams which is rubbed directly onto the affected area.
Minoxidil is a FDA-approved solution, which promotes hair growth when the follicle is not growing to its full length, and appears small, like stubble. It is designed to be put on the hair twice daily for approximately 12 weeks to increase hair growth on the bear and brow, as well as the scalp. One of the most popular brands of Minoxidil is Regaine.
Sulfasalazine is commonly used for sever alopecia areata patients, as it is bringing together a sulphur antibiotic-like component and attacks the immune system. For other autoimmune disorders a similar drug combination has also been used for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, which are commonly associated with this condition.
High quality hair fibres are made of pure keratin protein, the same material that your hair is made of. These fibres are charged with static electricity, forming a magnetic attraction that draws and merges the fibres to your thinning hairs, eliminating the signs of hair loss and thinning.
The most popular hair fibre brand is Toppik. The benefit of Toppik Hair Fibres are that they work immediately, last through wind, rain and perspiration, and are virtually identical to your natural hair, not synthetic, meaning that they are virtually undetectable. See how Toppik works below:
Masking Lotions are designed to eliminate the contrast between thinning hair and the scalp. They will mask your thinning hair and work on all area’s including at the front or at the crown. The most popular Masking Lotion brand is Courve. You can apply Courve right on the scalp and it can be used in conjunction with other treatments including hair fibres.
Hair thickening shampoo’s utilise a mixture of Keratin and protein formula’s that allow bonding to existing hair, in the process thickening the thinning hair follicles. The most popular brand of Hair building Shampoo and Conditioner is Toppik.
When it comes to wigs, there are 4 main types, machine, integration, lace and high definition wigs.
These are the most common wigs that retailers sell. The issue becomes they do not always look natural with the tendency for the wig to look like a solid object and sit up at least ¼ to ½ inch from the person’s head.
Integration hairpieces and wigs integrate with your own hair, adding fullness and length. They work by allowing you to pull through your own natural hair through a grid of small squares that are built into the wig. They look quite natural however they do not offer much versatility when the hair is parted.
A lace wig is a hairpiece that is made with human hair or synthetic hair which is tied, by hand, to a sheer lace base. The lace wig is usually attached with the assistance of glues and/or tapes.
High definition wigs are a step up from the more traditional lace wigs. What separates the high definition wigs from the rest is the high level of customised intricate detail that goes into it’s construction, providing a more realistic look and feel, the downside is that these systems are typically built for between $6000 to $25000.
Hair transplantation is a cosmetic surgical technique that is used to treat hair loss. There are various techniques available, two but all hair transplants involves taking hair-bearing skin from one part of the scalp and grafting these pieces of skin into bald or thinning area’s of the scalp.
Two well recognised hair transplant techniques are known as Follicular Unit Grafting (FUG) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Both these procedures require only local anaesthesia and are a simple walk in and walk out treatment.
Hair transplants can be combined with medical treatments (i.e. Regaine) to help slow down future hair loss, or cosmetic treatments (i.e. Toppik Hair Fibres) to further enhance the results.