Surgeon Asim Shahmalak, of Crown Clinic in Manchester, is one of Britain's leading expert on hair loss. Here he answers six of the most common questions about female hair loss.
1. 50% of women experience hair loss by the time they reach 40, according to a recent survey - is the number of women losing their
hair increasing? And if so what are the triggers of this in modern society?
Yes the number of women losing their hair is increasing for a number of reasons.
* Stress - this can cause a hormonal imbalance in women which can lead to hair loss.
* Modern hair techniques: extensions, beads, hair straighteners, weaves, bleaching, dying - all this can damage the hair and lead to
hair loss and conditions such as traction alopecia.
* Surgery, illness and medication - the body shuts down the production of non-essential products, including hair, so that it can concentrate its resources where they are most needed.
* Medical conditions such as low blood count, hormonal changes, pregnancy and thyroid problems can also affect hair growth and lead to hair loss. Usually in these cases the hair loss is temporary and it
will grow back.
* There is also great awareness of hair loss in women. Women are far more likely to admit they have a problem and seek remedies including a hair transplant either by FUE (follicular unit extraction) or FUT (follicular unit transplantation). That has to be a good thing.
2. What lifestyle changes can women make to prevent hair loss? Is it genetic or lifestyle induced problem?
Hair loss can also be lifestyle induced. It is important to live healthily to maintain a good head of hair in both sexes.
When you don't eat enough food or avoid the necessary vitamins, your hair will lose the nutrients that make it strong and beautiful. Make sure your diet is rich in vitamins like iron and zinc.
There is a powerful genetic link to hair loss - put simply, if your mother or grandmother has thin hair or suffers hair loss, there is a good chance you will too as a woman.This is called Androgenetic Alopecia, or hereditary pattern hair loss, and affects around 20% of women - most obviously through thinning over the central scalp.
But women rarely develop a receding hairline. Androgenetic Alopecia is most commonly seen in women after the menopause but can occur in younger women and
has even been know to begin in puberty.
3. Do shampoos and lotions work to halt hair loss or encourage growth?
Very rarely- be very wary of any shampoo or lotion that says as much. There are medications which can halt further loss. Finasteride (also called Propecia) , most commonly prescribed to men, can be effective
in halting hair loss in post-menapausal women. Another drug which be beneficial for 15% of female users is Minoxidl - it is also available in a lotion. It is not available on the NHS and can only be obtained
privately. Growing numbers of my patients are women.
4. Hair loss in women is quite a taboo subject, and obviously very
upsetting. How important is it for women to know they're not alone andbthis is a common and treatable condition?
It is very important that women suffering hair loss realise this is a common and treatable condition and that they are not alone. Hair loss
can have dismaying or even devastating influence on a woman's quality of life, not least because hair loss is often wrongly considered a less significant psychological and emotional problem for women than it
is for men. Too often, a woman's hair loss is not taken seriously by family or friends or even by a woman's doctor.
5. What are the psychological impacts of hair loss?
Men can cover up their hair loss by shaving their head - that option isn't really available to women.
While hair loss itself can present psychological and emotional problems for a woman, failure of others to recognise the seriousness of these problems may contribute additionally to psychological andemotional effects that can range from decreased self-esteem to anxiety and depression.