‘Finding a solution to your hair loss is nothing to do with vanity, it is about what’s going to make you look and feel better within yourself and to help restore your self-confidence.’ Laura Harris, consultant at Snips Wigs.
Hair loss is not just confined to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, mistakenly thought to be strictly a male problem, actually 1 in 3 women today experience some level of hair loss at some point in their lives. There are many different causes of hair loss, but it does not matter how much hair the individual has lost, for women it can be absolutely devastating, it can effect self-image, emotional well-being and it can also affect their day-to-day life, that can have a detrimental effect on their personal, home and work life.
Some women come in to us totally devastated by the reaction they received, treating the issue of women’s hair loss as if it were nonexistent, that it is not life threatening, its no big deal or you’ll just have to live with it. Of course they don’t seem to realize is that the psychological damage caused by hair loss and feeling unattractive can be just as devastating as any serious disease, and in fact, can take an emotional toll that directly affects your physical health.
But we are here to listen and help you.
Beyond the aesthetic value that hair can add to a woman’s appearance, it can speak volumes about her overall health. Your hair can tell signs of problems happening within. When the body is facing crises it can lead to a stunted hair growth that allows your body room to direct energy to other parts. This is why the issue of hair loss should not be taken lightly or left up to topical products.
Your hair also could be saying something about your health. Hormonal imbalance is very common in women and can be one of the main issues surrounding hair loss. It is commonly experienced in women during menopause, per menopause, pregnancy, or with endocrine disorder like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), any women are venerable to the condition as diet and lifestyle has a major impact on hormone levels.
Other common causes of hormonal imbalance related hair loss.
(Always consult with your GP. They will do all relevant testing.)
To understand and to identify all the different types of hair loss, we have compiled a list starting with the most common causes of hair loss that we see and help find solutions for every day.
Here are the most common causes of hair loss:
Female pattern baldness
Female pattern baldness is very common and manly effects women over 40. Unlike male pattern baldness, with female pattern baldness the hair thins mainly on top and crown of the scalp. It usually starts with a widening through the centre hair part. The front hairline remains unaffected except for normal recession, which happens to everyone as time passes. The hair loss rarely progresses to total or near baldness, as it may in men. Female pattern baldness may be related to aging and changes in the levels of androgens (male hormone) and or the menopause.
This chart shows the different grades of hair loss in women.
Rapid hair loss can be an early sign of a thyroid problem. In addition to thinning and shedding, your hair can become coarse, dry and easily tangled. Unfortunately with some medications for thyroid problem, excessive or prolonged hair loss is a known side effect.
The thyroid is a gland that regulates your metabolism. Your thyroid can be affected by many conditions; these include, but are not limited to, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy and menopause. Thyroid problems can also be caused by genetic and/or part of an underlying condition. Thyroid function is important to your hair as it helps to control the production of proteins and also your body’s use of oxygen. Having either hypothyroid (low) or a hyperthyroid (high) can cause hair loss, hair thinning or reduced hair growth and when severe, hypothyroid causes hair loss in up to 50% of cases.
Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body goes through numerous physical changes as it adjusts to fluctuating hormone levels. Many women have unpleasant symptoms during menopause, and unfortunately for many, hair loss is one of the side effects.
Research suggests that hair loss during menopause is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Androgens shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss on the head. In some cases, however, these hormones can cause more hair to grow on the face. This is why some menopausal women develop facial “peach fuzz” and small sprouts of hair on the chin.
Fifty is the average age for menopause, but changes to your hair can begin long before then. Nobody over 40 has the same volume of hair as they had in there twenties, but menopause is an extra and accelerated cause. The pattern of menopausal hair thinning is similar to the early stages of Female Pattern Baldness
Pregnancy and hair loss
Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, as it affects somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary. In general, very few hairs are shed during pregnancy, so your hair will often be much thicker and fuller towards the middle and end of your pregnancy. This is because raised oestrogen levels keep your hair in the growing (anagen) phase for longer than usual. However, post-partum hair loss can occur a few months after giving birth due to oestrogen levels dropping back to normal.
Medication & Hair Loss
The most common overlooked reason for hair loss is the use of medications, drugs and also the overuse of vitamin and or mineral supplements. The difficulty of predicting the effect that a specific drug will have on your hair is that because each individual reactions to medications is different and may not have the same effect on everybody. If you are prescribed a drug that lists hair loss as a possible side effect, don’t panic, it may only have a slight effect on hair fall.
Below are some medicines are thought to cause hair loss.
(I like to let everyone know that I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice, what I write is only my opinion based on my own experience, experience of others and research on the subject.)
Physical and Emotion Stress
Surgeries, severe illness and emotional stress can cause hair loss. The body simply shuts down production of hair during periods of stress since it is not necessary for survival and instead devotes its energies towards repairing vital body structures. In many cases there is a three-month delay between the actual event and the onset of hair loss. Furthermore, there may be another three-month delay prior to the return of noticeable hair growth. This then means that the total hair loss and re growth cycle can last 6 months or possibly longer when induced by physical or emotional stress.
Traction Alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by constant pulling on the hair from its follicles. It is most commonly seen in women and young girls who wear tight braids and hair extensions, but also occurs in those who consistently wear their hair pulled back tightly from their scalp.
There is a huge increase of traction alopecia due to women and young girls consistently wearing hair extensions and top hairpieces. The constant pulling on their hair can result in hair breakage and or bald spots where the extensions or top hairpieces have been applied. At first, traction alopecia from hair extensions and or top hair pieces is reversible, this can only take place by allowing time for your hair to recover, this can only happen by refraining to use extensions and or top hair pieces until new hair recovers. However, over time irreversible damage can be done if the hair starts to grow back and is pulled out again. This happens because the constant pulling of the hair eventually weakens the growth of the new hair and can cause your hair to grow back finer and shorter. In severe instance, the follicle can become permanently scarred so that hairs are not able to grow back at all.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are more susceptible to female pattern baldness. PCOS can cause hyperandrogenism – where your body produces too many androgens (male hormone). Androgens are naturally found in all women.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia is a primary cicatricial alopecia and is most common in middle aged or older women. As the name suggests, it is a scarring alopecia that starts at the hairline and progresses towards the back of the head. Unfortunately, as with the other scarring alopecias, there is no successful treatment for area where scarring has already occurred.
Trichotillomania: Pulling or twisting hair out
Trichotillomania is an impulse – control disorder. This means it is a psychological condition where you are unable to stop yourself carrying out a particular action. You will feel an intense urge to pull your hair out and growing tension until you do. After pulling your hair out, you will fell a sense of relief. Some see trichotillomania as a type of addiction: the more your pull your hair out, the more addicted you become to this. It is advised to seek professional help starting with your GP, who can refer you on to a specialist.
We hope that we have given you an in site to all the different types of hair loss. The good news is that there are solutions for hair loss.
We are very aware how difficult and nerve wreaking it is to pick up that phone to make an appointment. We would like to reassure you that you would be in good hands from the first step into Snips Wigs to heading out the door with a smile on your face. We look forward to seeing you.
What is alopecia?
Alopecia is a dermatological disorder whereby people lose some or all of the hair on their head and sometimes on their body as well. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the hair follicles. It is both life threatening nor painful, though there can be irritation of the skin and can be physical problems associated with the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. There is also an association between alopecia and autoimmune diseases, which suggests the possibility that alopecia itself is an autoimmune disease. The one thing we do know about alopecia is that it’s not contagious!
Most of us do not think about alopecia-until we get it ourselves or someone close to us gets it. The misery it causes goes unappreciated, and even a small minority of the medical profession often ignore the impact it has on people’s lives. It can impact so severely on self-esteem that one’s sense of self or identity is broken. Alopecia is more common than many people think. We often don’t notice people who have the disorder because they may cover their hair loss by changing their hairstyles, or by wearing a wig or headscarves. It is very difficult to ascertain the number of people with the problem because many do not go to their GP, or tell others.
What happens when someone gets alopecia?
For most people there is no prior warning that they are going to get alopecia, and often the first clue is finding more hairs than usual when washing your hair. It is only when the hair starts to fall out in chunks that it becomes a problem.
Is it permanent?
For some people alopecia is permanent, for others it is temporary, perhaps occurring after illness, an injury, or a stressful event. You may lose your hair quite suddenly, and then almost as suddenly it can start growing back again- weeks, month or even years later. We can not predict when hair will grow back or in what form-sometimes it will grow back normally, sometimes it grows back much thinner and more wispy. We do not know for sure that the hair will grow back, although it is far more likely to re-grow if the hair loss is limited to patches on the scalp. When all the hair falls out, there is a much lower chance of re-growth. It is thought that somewhere between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of people with alopecia have hair re-growth within one year. However, the problem is that the disorder may recur, perhaps several times during a person’s life.
What causes alopecia?
The simple answer is that we do not know for sure, although there are a number of factors associated with the onset of alopecia. Possible causes include a change in the immunological system, a genetic link, and psychological causes – and there is evidence for all. We do know that 20 per cent of people with alopecia know of someone else in their family who also has the disorder - sometimes identical twins both get alopecia.
Types of alopecia
Alopecia is classified according to its severity-in other words, the extent to which someone’s hair is lost. There are many different types of alopecia, the most frequent of which is alopecia areata.
This is where you lose some, but not all, of your head hair. This usually occurs in patches, on any part of the head. It often begins with a single round patch of baldness, which can quickly spread. It can occur on other parts of the body, but it is more frequent and more noticeable on the scalp. It may be a single patch of hair loss, perhaps a centimetre or two in diameter. It is more likely to occur often towards the front of the head for females. Some people experience repeated alopecai areata in the same area: some have it in different areas. If you have alopecia areata you can cover up the bald patch on your head with the rest of your hair. The prognosis for this type of alopecia is generally good – you are likely to experience hair re growth, where the hair grows back normal, though you may lose it again in the future. But this is not necessarily the case: for some, the hair grows back as a fluffy patch that does not match the rest of the hair, and for others it does not grow back at all. About 65 per cent of people with alopecia areata only experience one or two patches of hair loss, which often re grows spontaneously after a few weeks or months. Alopecia areata is unpredictable – some people only have a single bout of it, others experience it repeatedly. Sometimes the new hair growth is very fine and un pigmented (comes back white): on other occasions it grows back normally. Re growth can occur in one area, at the same time another bald patch is appearing elsewhere.
This occurs when you lose all your head hair, but not your body hair – and (usually) not eyelashes and eyebrows. The prognosis is not as good as alopecia areata, although many people do experience at least some re growth. This re growth may occur in patches, and it may only be fine wispy hair.
This is where you lose all your head and body hair, including your eyelashes and eyebrows, along with underarm and genital hair. This is the most severe form of alopecia, but it is also the rarest. The prognosis for someone with alopecia universalis is not very good, for few will achieve total re growth of hair. It is estimated that less than 10 per cent of people with alopecia universalis will experience full recovery. With alopecia universalis, where the eyebrows and eyelashes fall out, there is the added issues of psychological and physical discomfort. The loss of eyebrows and eyelashes fundamentally changes the face of the individual, and can create practical problems. For example, water and sweat gets in the eyes (because brows and eyelashes provide protection, like gutters on a house); and eyes can become sore because without lashes dirt and dust can irritate the eyes. Nose hair is also affected.
Are there any available treatments, what are the options?
There is a range of medical treatments available, some of them are effective, at least temporary, with the milder forms of alopecia, but rarely work if you have alopeica totalis or universalis. We cannot present you with any clear conclusions about what will work in which circumstances. In the end, all treatments are palliative – i.e. they can help to control the problem, but they rarely cure it. There are endless ideas being marketed today which claim hair re growth. If a treatment is discovered that is effective with all forms of alopecia, we will soon know about it! Until there are effective treatments for hair re growth there are alternative options. The most common options for many people with alopecia are wearing a wig or headscarves.
The world of wigs can be quite daunting for many women and the thoughts of going out and even stepping through the door of a wig shop, petrifies them. It doesn’t have to be that way; you are not alone! We are here to support, listen, advise and help you. We will explain the different types of wigs that are out there and what would be the appropriate wig for you and your needs.
Our services that we provide for you include:
Medical Card Assistance
If you are affected with alopecia and are a medical card holder (means tested) you may be able elligable to get a grant towards your wig. For more information on the grant contact your local HSE.
If you are eligible for a wig, all you need is your medical card and a letter from your GP along with you to your appointment and we will process your application on your behalf. We are here to make things less stressful for you.
For more information, please do not hesitate to drop in to us or call us on 01 8733443.
We look forward to seeing YOU!