Hair Loss Awareness: Dealing with Hair Loss for Women
August is Hair Loss Awareness month and while men are known to bemoan the loss of their thick heads of hair, most women do not realize how common it is for them to experience thinning hair, too. NYC hair loss expert Dr. Philip Bruder from Schweiger Dermatology Group says: “In fact, 50% of women have genetic hair loss by age 50 and this hair loss doesn’t just start at menopause. Women, just like men, not uncommonly show signs of genetic hair loss at a young age, even as teenagers. Many patients with genetic hair loss tell me that they are unaware of anyone in their family with thin hair. Just like with any other genetic trait, we inherit genes from both of our parents, neither of whom may have the right genetic combination to present with hair loss. Our combination of genes, however, may cause us to lose hair.” Although genetic hair loss is the most common type of hair loss seen, there are many other causes of hair thinning including:
Hair Loss and Diet
Dr. Bruder says: “Nutritional deficiencies are occasionally identified, but it’s important to be aware that indiscriminately taking nutritional supplements when they are not needed can lead to health problems. Another common fallacy is that Biotin supplements help with hair loss, however, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. In fact, taking Biotin may adversely affect the interpretation of many blood test assays including those that evaluate for thyroid function, pregnancy and heart attack.”
Hairstyles and Hair Loss
Dr. Bruder says: “Although hair grooming practices do not accelerate genetic hair loss per se, they can contribute to hair breakage and, in the case of hair styles that “pull” the hair (i.e. braiding, weaves, extensions), permanent scarring of the hair follicle and permanent loss of hair density may occur (this is referred to as “traction alopecia”).”
Stress, Hormones and Other Hair Loss Triggers
“Telogen effluvium (TE) (increased hair shedding) can be triggered by both acute stressors, such as giving birth, stopping birth control pills, high fevers, psychological stress, surgery, general anesthesia, weight loss, and by chronic conditions, including hormonal irregularities, nutritional deficiencies, medical disease and medication,” explains Dr. Bruder.
Autoimmunity and Hair Loss
Autoimmune hair loss, alopecia areata, is relatively common. “It typically presents as circular and oval patches of hair loss of the scalp but also may cause hair loss of the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and body hair. It is a diagnosis often made with the help of a dermatoscope (a high-powered magnification device) by identifying the diagnostic “exclamation point hairs”. Unfortunately, these ‘tapering hairs’ are not always present, especially in diffuse-type alopecia areata, a subtype without a typical patchy presentation. It often mimics TE and genetic hair loss. Therefore, biopsies can be very helpful. Alopecia areata can be mild with only one or a few patches of hairless or moderate to severe with widespread involvement, in some cases with loss of all scalp and, at times, eyebrow, eyelash and body hair. There are many available treatments for alopecia areata including: topical steroids, intralesional steroids (‘corticosteroid shots’) and oral medications that are immunomodulating or immunosuppressive.” says Dr. Bruder.
Dr. Philip Bruder specializes in both diagnosing the causes of hair loss as well as the medical, non-surgical treatment of hair loss. Dr. Bruder was just named to New York magazine’s 2019 Best Doctors list. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruder click here.