Question: I can feel my hair getting thinner, like it isn’t as thick as it was but I don’t see bald spots or any patches or stuff like that. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for though, can you tell me what does hair loss look like? Is there something I should be looking for to know if I’m losing my hair or if this is something else?
Answer: Hi, Giana. The first thing we recommend is having a professional consultation as there are many different forms of hair loss and each can look different; you can find out more in the Women’s Guide to Diagnosing Your Hair Loss Condition here on our website.
It is also important to take factors such as your medical profile, diet, and certain lifestyle habits – such as whether or not you smoke and any medication you take – into consideration when diagnosing a hairloss condition.
For women, it can be particularly helpful to have a blood test as there are a number of key health issues which can cause thinning hair that can be picked up this way. These include iron-deficiency anaemia, pernicious anaemia (vitamin B12 deficiency) and thyroid problems.
That said, we can advise you as to the two most likely issues which fit with the small amount of information you have provided. These are Female Pattern Hair Loss and the temporary condition Telogen Effluvium.
Female Pattern Hair Loss, also referred to as Female Pattern Baldness or Androgenic Alopecia, is a permanent, genetic condition that is extremely common.
It affects the follicles at the top of the scalp, from hairline and temples to crown and the first signs include a general drop in hair volume, as well as the parting starting to appear wider. Thinning temples also tend to be seen, though – unlike Male Pattern Baldness – this rarely develops into a receding hairline, and instead presents more as a diffuse thinning in these affected areas.
Whilst this condition traditionally tended to start becoming noticeable later on in life for women, from their 40s onwards, it can actually start any time following puberty in those with the relevant genetic predisposition. Nowadays it is far from uncommon to see this type of hair loss start when women are in their 20s, or even late teens.
The fact that genetic hair loss can be triggered – again, only in those with the relevant inherited susceptibility – by stress, and the increasing pressures associated with modern life, are thought to be the reason for this trend.
What causes hair loss in women with this condition is a sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This binds to receptors in the applicable follicles, gradually weakening them, causing hair to lose its volume and become increasingly thin over time, as well as increasing hair fall.
Although it is a permanent condition for which there is no cure yet, it can generally be effectively managed through the use of a female hair loss treatment course comprising the only MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved medication for this, high strength minoxidil.
This is a topical hair loss solution, applied directly to the affected areas of the scalp to help promote accelerated hair growth. It can be used on its own or combined with the use of additional hair growth supporting products.
Whilst the approach of using appropriate formulations of minoxidil is only officially authorised for women in the treatment of Female Pattern Hair Loss, it has also been seen to produce encouraging regrowth results for conditions including Telogen Effluvium, too.
This is another condition which causes the hair to lose its normal level of volume and shed, though this tends to have what feels like a more sudden onset than with Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Telogen Effluvium is triggered around three months before signs appear; these include diffusely thinning hair from all over the entire scalp, not just the top area, with up to 30 per cent of scalp hairs being affected at once.
It lasts for around six months once the cause has been identified and dealt with – often physical or emotional stress, a side effect of medication, illness or a dietary problem – and Telogen Effluvium treatment courses are available, though the condition tends to right itself naturally.
As before, there are many factors to consider here so it is worth having a professional hair loss specialist assess your scalp to determine which condition you are experiencing – if any. It could, particularly if you heat style and/or bleach, perm or chemically straighten your hair a lot, simply be an issue of cosmetic hair breakage.
Whatever their findings, they will be able to advise you on the best course of action and next steps, so you can make a fully-informed decision about tackling your hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.