1234 GMT October 24, 2019
It's typically considered a male affliction, but losing your crowning glory is prevalent among women too, as a new study has brought to light, the Telegraph reported.
The research by a leading hair and scalp expert has found that hair loss and thinning in women is a real problem, with more than a fifth of the women surveyed aged over 25 in the UK saying they suffered from the condition.
Although it is true that the issues can be age-related (around half of sufferers are aged between 45 and 64), this research shows that it can in fact occur at any age.
"Sadly, a third of those suffering hair thinning said that they haven’t done anything to address the problem."
Amy Johnson said her hair loss started in 2007, at the age of just 24. “I had two small bald patches the size of a 10 pence piece. These grew back in and I presumed that was it.
“Then three years later, my hair began to fall out in clumps… I really struggled initially to come to terms with my new appearance. I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. I became depressed and felt very isolated.
“I believed I was the only woman in her twenties who had experienced hair loss. I was of course wrong. My type of hair loss, alopecia areata, affects men and women of all ages, including in childhood.”
An estimated eight million women in the UK have hair loss. The research from Trichologist Philip Kingsley, found one in eight of those surveyed was under 35.
Philip believes the prevalence of hair loss is higher than commonly thought because women often suffer in silence. “Sadly, a third of those suffering hair thinning said that they haven’t done anything to address the problem, perhaps as they feel too embarrassed to seek help.”
Perhaps most surprising of all are the causes the study suggests are behind hair thinning – ranging from crash dieting and stress to some oral contraceptives.
“Stress can, through a convoluted route, increase the levels of androgens (male hormones) circulating in the blood," said Philip. "Ferritin is a stored iron that produces hair cell protein. Levels below 80 ug/L can cause excessive hair fall, whereas they need to be much lower to have any detrimental effect on essential organs. If you are of menstruating age and your hair is falling out, ask your GP for a ferritin test. Ferritin deficiency is the most common cause of hair loss we see in young women.
"Periods of restricting or fasting therefore often cause many more hairs than usual move from the growing to the resting phase of the hair growth cycle – with hairs being shed en-masse 6-12 weeks later".
Amy, who works with charity Alopecia UK, stressed that the causes for different types of alopecia are far from straightforward. "There are so many theories about what can cause baldness but so often it’s other things," she said.
"There’s so many people that can’t put alopecia down to stress — it can happen when people are at their most happy period in their life. I think we all have different triggers — it can be environmental triggers or genetic disposition. There needs to be an immense amount of research done.
“In the absence of a cure or treatment, I found it really comforting to learn I wasn’t on my own. It really helped to boost my confidence. These days, I am comfortable with my appearance.
“It is tough standing out from the crowd but the greater awareness there is about alopecia, the less stigma there will be.”
Seven tips to help women spot early signs
*Hair is shedding more than usual for more than two months — perhaps while washing it, brushing it or on your pillow and clothes. It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day, so if you leave more days between shampooing than you usually do, the amount of hair fall you see will be more noticeable.
*Scalp becoming more visible, or hair has less volume than it used to.
* Hair does not grow as long as it used to.
* The ends are finer than usual, but it isn't breaking. A lot of new hairs may also be growing from the scalp at different lengths.
*Your hair is gradually becoming finer at the front, crown or temple regions of the scalp.
* Excessive hair growth on other parts of the body, such as the face, chest or arms.