Hair loss is a very common problem faced by most people. While not as common as male hair loss, female alopecia strikes a significant number of women every year, says Dr. Enas Bukhari, a dermatologist at a private practice in Jeddah. "Hereditary hair loss factors are the most difficult to deal with, but one can reduce the effect from an early stage. Many of our hair roots are still alive, and it is still possible to grow them back," she said.
Women are especially depressed about losing their hair as their beauty depends a lot on their hairstyles. Fortunately, hair loss in women typically does not result in complete baldness, as is often the case with men.
"Although hair loss may seem like a major problem among men, women are just as likely to lose or have thinning hair. Most women notice it in their 50s or 60s, but it can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons," added Bukhari.
According to Bukhari, there are many reasons that cause hair loss. "Women are excessive users of chemicals on their scalps. They use shampoos and conditioners that are based on chemical ingredients, which can weaken the scalp and make it hard to hold on to the hair," she said, "They also dye their hair way too much. I could never say that they shouldn't, but they should use less chemical dyes and use more natural resources like Henna for instance."
Another reason for hair fall is dandruff. "One can avoid dandruff by making sure that the daily intake of water is enough for your hair. I also recommend a daily gentle rub using natural oils and a deep conditioner on the scalp at night for a whole week. Also, wash your hair every day in the morning for practical reasons before starting your daily activities, but use a shampoo made especially for people with dandruff," she advised.
Constant stress and worrying are the biggest and worst reasons that can cause hair loss, says Bukhari. "This affects women much more than men because men tend to let out their stress, but women keep it inside, which eventually builds up and affects their health and mind," she explained.
"A sudden or stressful event can cause the hair follicles to prematurely stop growing and enter into a resting phase. This can last anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks (or much longer if left untreated). If untreated, it can lead to temporary hair loss," she added.
According to Bukhari, it is widely known that pregnancy causes hormonal changes that ultimately lead to excessive hair loss. "During pregnancy, a large reserve of protein and calcium is taken up by the baby, causing a lack of essential nutrients, which are beneficial for hair growth. This major transfer of nutrients leaves a woman severely deficient in hair food. Consequently, I recommend women to obtain a healthy diet during pregnancy and to consult with their physician to ensure a proper balance of hormones," she explained.
Menopause is another reason that can cause hair loss because of the lack of estrogen. "A thinning of scalp hair along with a growth of excessive facial hair occurs in about half of all women by age 50, although it may begin anytime after puberty. We can always blame postmenopausal hair loss on a lack of estrogen, but research has shown that more than one hormone is involved in this process. The loss of both progesterone and estrogen throughout menopause seems to lead to a new hormonal pattern that leads to hair fall and an increase in facial hair," she added.
If you are concerned about hair loss or the growth of unwanted facial hair during menopause, Bukhari recommends that you visit your doctor for a checkup and for a diet review.
"A doctor's treatment plan will be based on both your medical and lifestyle information. A doctor might prescribe a short-term dose of estrogen to see if that addresses the problem. I also suggest drinking plenty of green tea, getting enough vitamin B6, losing weight and getting enough sleep because your problem might get fixed if you just switch to a healthier lifestyle," she added.
Women suffering from hair loss should avoid ponytails, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers, which can pull and stress your hair, says Bukhari. "If you need to use blow-dryers and other heated hair instruments, try to use the cooler, lower heat. I also recommend that you use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica," she said.
"Head massages can help with blood circulation in the scalp and promotes hair growth. Give yourself a head massage every day by putting your fingers gently, but firmly, on the scalp and start moving the scalp in small circles for a few seconds in each spot until you're done with your whole head. This can be done for five minutes twice a day," she added.