Losing our hair can be confusing, shocking, and even embarrassing, but often times, hair loss is not only treatable but preventable.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, 40 percent of hair loss sufferers are women, and it’s something we don’t often talk about. But there are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to save your hair.
Julia Wagener prided herself on her thick, curly hair until she started losing it.
“A couple of years ago, I was working on a really stressful job, and at the same time, I stopped taking some medication, and it was really great for hair, but I was using it for skin and didn’t realize it was keeping my hair in place,” Wagener explains.
Eventually she ended up in Advanced Dermatology Dermatologist Sherry Ingraham’s office for alopecia, or hair loss.
While it’s normal to lose 100 to 150 hairs a day, more than that, usually requires a diagnosis, and the most common types for women are androgenic alopecia, which is a chronic condition, and Telogen Effluvium.
“So, stress, hormones, changes in your diet, anemia, on a diet, have a baby, start birth control, stop birth control – all of those can put your hair in a resting state or a shedding state, and that is called Telogen Effluvium. And if you fix the trigger, your hair can be normalized,” explains Ingraham.
Wagener had a combination of both — causing a thinning at her center part.
“In women, what we see is a widening of the central part – what we call Christmas Tree Hair Loss – where typically they have preservation of the frontal hair line,” adds Ingraham.
She instructed Wagener to pick up an over the counter hair re-growth medication, like Rogaine, and shortly after using it, the hair should grow back. For Wagener, it’s already started to work.
“I’m not seeing my scalp as much from the front,” says Wagener.
Finishing her stressful job also helped. Ingraham says lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Most women suffering from hair loss are biotin, vitamin D, iron, or zinc-deficient and need a tweak in their diets.
“It doesn’t matter what products you use, if you are nutrition deficient, you will not grow healthy, happy hair,” says Ingraham.
She adds, “Hair habits are very important. If you wear tight hair styles, braids, extensions, these put stress and tension on the scalp and can cause both scarring and non-scarring alopecia.”
Perming and other heavy chemical treatments, along with using hot tools can also cause hair loss. Wagener says making these changes are worth it.
“It’s really shocking, and it’s something that you associate yourself with, and it’s gone, it’s jarring,” Wagener said.
Ingraham says while Rogaine works, make an appointment with your dermatologist. Often, a full scan will give you the diagnosis and medication that’s right for you.