Hair loss in men and women can be devastating. Many men expect it, but not many women realize it’s a strong possibility for them as well. Men can see the possible future of their hairline by looking at their mother’s father. The suspect gene is the X chromosome which is related to the male sex hormone and is handed down to the male by his mother. It is estimated that 50 % of men in their 50s will have some hair loss. There are other genes on the father’s side which may play a part as well.
However, 5% of women under 30 and 60% of those older than 70 are also affected by hair loss. Some of the causes are medications, illness, infection, extreme stress, chemicals, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, iron deficiency or ‘out of balance’ hormones. During menopause, a decrease in estrogen levels and an increase in androgen levels (male hormones) can cause hair loss in women. A sign of this is if the pattern of hair loss resembles that of a man’s. This can be treated with hormone replacement therapy and medications such as spironolactone or oral contraceptives.
Many different types of drugs are thought to cause hair loss. Here is a list.
What can be done about hair loss?
If you are not taking any of the listed medications that can cause hair loss, a blood test for ferritin levels should be done to see the amount of iron your body stores. A satisfactory level is between 50 and not over 200. If your level falls below 50, a daily iron supplement and a change in diet may be suggested by your doctor.
Minoxidil 5% is effective for both men and women by prolonging the growth phase of hair, giving it more time to grow out to its full density.
For men, a drug called Proscar (finasteride) can also be helpful for slowing hair loss and some even experiencing re-growth particularly in the crown area. In general, the sooner you get to a doctor the better your chances of slowing or reversing the hair loss so don’t wait.
Hair loss happens for many reasons and only a medical consultation will reveal the cause. Hormone optimization for men and women, coupled with a thorough medical work-up may also be beneficial.
Hair loss information resources