Iron and Hair Loss – Why You Should Get Your Levels Checked

 

They say that your hair is a sensitive barometer of your overall health – so it’s not surprising that when your iron levels are low, your hair can be affected. If you’ve noticed that you seem to be losing more hair than you should, read on and see how iron and hair loss are connected.

NOTE: this information should not be seen as medical advice. Please speak to your doctor if you are experiencing hair loss and before taking any supplements.

Iron and Hair Loss – What the Experts Say

There is quite a bit of published research into the relationship between low iron and thinning hair, with references all the way back to 1963.

Although it’s still a contentious issue, there are many medical professionals who support the view that there is a direct link between iron and hair loss and that iron supplements can help reduce or reverse the problem.

Do remember that, whilst some of these studies listed here do demonstrate a relationship between low iron and hair loss, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the low iron CAUSED the hair loss (that has yet to be scientifically proven).

Nonetheless, it’s certainly something to bear in mind when you are trying to establish what might be causing YOUR hair loss issues!

The research…

Low Iron Stores – a Risk Factor for Excessive Hair Loss in Non-Menopausal Women

This research, published in 2007, studied 5110 women aged 35 to 60.

Each woman filled in a questionnaire about the extent of her hair loss and had her iron level (serum ferritin) tested.

Among the women who described their hair loss as excessive, 59% had low iron stores compared to the remainder of the population.

Decreased Serum Ferritin is Associated with Alopecia in Women

This research, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 2003, studied only a small number of women but gave some interesting results.

The subjects of the study – women with telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata and alopecia universalis/totalis – were compared to a group of 11 women who did not suffer from hair loss.

Iron levels for the women with androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata were SIGNIFICANTLY lower than in women without hair loss.

The iron levels of the women suffering from alopecia universalis and telogen effluvium, however, were not lower than those of the women without hair loss.

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Iron Deficiency and Its Potential Relationship to Hair Loss

This article was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2006. Its authors – Cleveland Clinic dermatologists Leonid Trost MD and Wilma Bergfeld MD – wrote that they “… believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency – with or without anemia – is treated”.

Whilst acknowledging that there may not yet be enough hard evidence to fully confirm a direct relationship between iron and hair loss, the report concludes:

“It is our practice at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to screen male and female patients presenting with hair loss, both cicatricial and noncicatricial, for iron deficiency by obtaining a complete blood cell count, red blood cell indices, and serum ferritin concentration. We treat iron deficiency, with or without anemia, through dietary modification and, when necessary, oral iron supplementation. Although this practice is not evidence based per se, in our experience we believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when patients maintain a serum ferritin concentration greater than 70 ng/mL.”

This approach is shared by George Cotsarelis, director of the University of Pennsylvania, who told the health site Web MD:

“From our clinic’s experience, it is clear to me that if you replenish hair loss patients’ iron stores with iron supplements, they are more likely to regrow hair, or at least stop hair shedding. And they don’t have to be anemic. That is the biggest mistake doctors make”.

He also believes that if you have a tendency towards hair loss (perhaps a family history, for example), then the process will be accelerated by a lack of iron in the body.

Understanding Iron and Ferritin

Iron is an essential mineral. It is needed for many important functions, but primarily to make red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. If your levels are too low and your body is not getting enough oxygen, then you will feel tired and your immune system will be weakened.

We absorb iron from the food we eat. It moves around the body via the blood, bound to a molecule called ‘transferrin’, which delivers it to everywhere it’s needed.

Most of the iron in the body is in the hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Some iron is stored in the liver or other organs of the body.

The main storage form of iron is called ferritin. Ferritin levels give a good indication of how much iron is stored in your tissues. Small amounts of ferritin are secreted into the blood’s serum. So doctors are able to look for iron deficiency by giving a blood test to check serum ferritin levels.

Why Might Your Iron Levels Be Low?

There are various reasons that you could be low in iron…

  • You may not be getting enough in your diet
  • You may be taking medication that is stopping you absorbing iron properly
  • Extreme dieting or exercise could be depleting your iron stores more quickly than you can replenish them
  • You may be consuming too much caffeine, which can block iron absorption
  • You may be deficient in vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed to absorb iron
  • You may have been taking aspirin or NSAIDs over a long period of time

Women are particularly at risk of iron deficiency, thanks to menstruation and childbirth, both of which are significant causes of heavy blood loss and subsequent loss of iron.

What Are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?

  • pale skin
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • feeling irritable
  • restless legs
  • feeling cold
  • hair loss (tends to be thinner overall, rather than patchy hair loss)
  • dry/brittle/weak hair
  • depression

If the amount of iron you are consuming is less than the amount you need, the iron stored in your ferritin will be used up to meet your needs. This means your ferritin levels will be low but you won’t yet have anemia. Left untreated, though, anemia could eventually develop.

How Does a Doctor Test Your Iron/Ferritin Levels?

Your levels are checked using a blood test. There are a few different kinds of tests.

CBC (complete blood count) – this checks your red blood cell and hemoglobin levels

Serum iron – this checks the amount of iron in the blood

Serum ferritin – this checks the amount of iron stored in the body

Total Iron Binding Capacity – this tests how much iron could/should be in the body, by determining how much transferrin (the molecule that transports iron) is NOT carrying any iron.

Having normal iron levels is important, but having enough STORED iron is important too!

What Happens If You Are Diagnosed with Low Iron or Ferritin Levels?

Iron and hair loss

Your doctor will either recommend that you modify your diet, or – if necessary –  prescribe an iron supplement.

He/she would probably recommend taking the supplement on an empty stomach, to avoid other things (like caffeine) blocking its absorption.

Some people find that iron supplements cause an upset stomach, so you might want to ask your doctor if you can have liquid iron, which many find easier to tolerate.

What if Blood Tests Are ‘Normal’, But You Are STILL Losing your Hair?

The problem with tests for low iron and hair loss is that your doctor may not order quite the right test to diagnose the cause.

As described above, there is more than one test that can be done.

There is a difference between the iron levels in hemoglobin (measured by the CBC test) and your levels of ferritin (measured with the serum ferritin test).

Research suggests that low ferritin levels may be one of the most common causes of hair loss. And it’s possible to be low in ferritin, without having an actual iron deficiency.

Yet many doctors only order the CBC test, leaving ferritin levels unchecked.

So you could be told that blood tests have shown your iron levels to be ‘normal’… and you may not discover that your ferritin levels are low, potentially causing your hair loss.

For this reason, it’s important to ASK your ferritin levels to be checked.

Another issue is that your doctor may tell you your ferritin levels are in the ‘normal’ range, when they are actually at a level some experts would consider too low for optimum hair growth.

The Mayo Clinic puts the normal range for blood ferritin at 11 to 307 ng/ml (nanograms per millileter).

But even if your level falls into this ‘normal’ range, some experts say it could still be too low.

Doctor Cotsarelis suggests that a level of at least 50 ng/ml is needed to replenish their hair. Dermatologists Trost and Bergfeld put that figure even higher, at 70 ng/ml.

If your ferritin levels fall below the levels recommended by these experts, then do discuss this with your doctor.

If he/she does not prescribe supplements, then you will certainly want to look at your diet and ensure you’re consuming enough iron-rich foods (see below).

Why Bother with Blood Tests At All?
Why Not just Buy Iron Supplements to Top Up your Iron Levels?

Because this can be VERY dangerous – too much iron is as bad as not enough.

Iron Overload

The body can’t easily excrete excess iron, so if you take too much, it builds up. This can have many negative effects on the body, including an increased risk of liver and heart disease, plus the acceleration of other conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson.

Iron overload can also cause hair loss.

Iron overload is not only caused by consuming too much iron – there can be other reasons.

It can be acquired after receiving numerous blood transfusions or iron shots. It can also be inherited.

Symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • changing skin color
  • missed periods
  • lack of libido
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • liver disease
  • joint pain
  • abdominal pain

Only your doctor can diagnose iron overload, which is treated with iron reduction therapy.

Another reason you should not try to ‘self-diagnose’ if you suspect your iron levels to be low…

…is that your low iron may be caused by ANOTHER medical condition. It’s important that your doctor establishes the cause of any iron deficiency.

How Can You Naturally Increase Your Iron Levels?

If your doctor feels that supplementation is not required, then you need to look to your diet to make sure you are consuming enough iron.

This is particularly important if you are dieting and/or doing a lot of exercise.

Good sources of iron include:

  • lean beef
  • liver
  • tofu
  • lentils
  • beans
  • spinach
  • blackstrap molasses (black treacle)
  • oysters
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • prunes
  • raisins
  • apricots (fresh or dried)
  • dark chocolate
  • Irish Stout

‘Heme iron’ comes from animals. ‘Non-heme iron’ comes from plant sources. Heme iron is better absorbed by the body than non-heme, so if you are vegetarian, make sure that you are consuming plenty of iron-rich vegetables and pulses.

The setting aside of special ‘meatless’ days of the week has recently become popular, but some sources suggest this may have triggered a rise in iron deficiency. So make sure you are replacing iron-rich meat with another good source!

Other Tips to Increase Your Iron Levels and Improve Your Hair Loss

  • Vitamins C is crucial to iron absorption, so every time you eat an iron-rich food, try to consume a source of vitamin C along with it (a glass of orange juice with dinner, for example).
  • Use iron cookware. Some of the iron will leach into your food, particularly if you are cooking something acidic (like tomatoes).
  • The amino acid L-lysine helps your body store iron as ferritin, so include sources such as fish, dairy products and meat in your diet.
  • Limit your tea/coffee intake to 2 to 3 cups a day. Any more can limit your iron absorption.
  • Consider soaking or sprouting whole grains, like legumes, before consuming or cooking them. Whole grains contain phyates, which can limit the amount of iron your body absorbs. Consuming plenty of vitamin C will help, but so will soaking or sprouting your grains – you can find more about this here (external site).

How Long Will It Take to Regrow My Hair?

Once your iron levels get back to normal, it can take up to a year to fully regrow your locks.

Yes, it’s frustrating having to wait that long. But you should notice that the shedding stops far sooner, giving you some encouragement and a good sign that things are heading in the right direction!

To Sum Up

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to check your ferritin levels.
  • Ensure you are naturally consuming as much iron as possible through your diet, and avoid things that can block iron absorption.
  • Do not take iron supplements without your doctor’s advice – if you don’t need them, they may do more harm than good.

| RELATED: Zinc and Hair Loss

Please Share Your Thoughts…

I would love to hear about YOUR experience with no iron and hair loss.

If you have anything to share – or any comments you would like to make – please contact me here.

Sources

Nutritional Factors and Hair Loss

Why should women have lower reference limits for haemoglobin and ferritin concentrations than men?

Ferritin Test

Iron Overload




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Ayurvedic Medicine for Hair Loss

 

Which is the best Ayurvedic medicine for hair loss? Could it be right for you? This article looks at Ayurveda from a western perspective and whether or not this type of holistic healing might be appropriate for everyone.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurvedic medicine – known as Ayurveda – is the primary healthcare system of India.

Developed there thousands of years ago, it is one of the world’s oldest medical systems still in use today.

Although Ayurveda is a fairly new concept to the western world, it is slowly gaining in popularity, particularly when western medicine fails and patients seek new approaches to their conditions.

The internet has made information about Ayurveda much more accessible, of course, and you will quite often come across Ayurvedic remedies when searching for hair loss solutions online.

So What is the Difference Between Ayurveda and Conventional Medicine?

In the US and other western countries, doctors tend to diagnose a health problem, then prescribe a treatment (usually medication) for that particular problem.

Ayurvedic medicine, on the other hand, is focused more on promoting overall good health, rather than on treating specific diseases. Indeed, some view Ayurveda as more of a ‘way of life’ than a medical system.

A practitioner of Ayurveda (vaidya) strives to promote harmony between his patient’s body, mind and spirit. The principle of Ayurveda is that this delicate balance is essential to good health and that any imbalance can result in disease.

Ayurvedic medicine, then, is based on a ‘holistic’ (whole body) approach, where treatments are very much tailored to the individual.

Treatments are based on all sorts of factors in addition to the symptoms presenting themselves… the patient’s employment, for example, and current relationships. 

By tackling problems this way, Ayurvedic practitioners aim to encourage the body to heal itself and to maintain good health in the future.

Clinical and laboratory research on Ayurveda is supported by the Indian government and by other institutions around the world.

Doshas

According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are three ‘doshas’, known as :

A dosha is a type of energy believed to circulate in the body. It influences a person’s health, mental well-being and body type.  Ayurvedic practitioners can determine a patient’s dosha and identify any imbalance.

It is the imbalance which is then treated, with the aim of restoring the mind, body and spirit to complete harmony and good health.

Ayurvedic Treatments

Unlike most western medicine, treatments are not just drug based (although there are some remedies that may be commonly recommended for particular conditions).

Ayurveda encompasses a range of healing methods to rebalance doshas, including dietary changes, massage with herbal oils, meditation, yoga, elimination of toxins, stress reduction, counseling and supervised fasting.

Rather than being issued with medication and sent on their way, the patient of a vaidya will be given a program of treatment involving a combination of these methods.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Hair Loss

What Causes Hair Loss?

Experts in Ayurveda believe that hair loss is caused by too much ‘pitta dosha’ in the body.

They also believe that hair is a by-product of bone formation, or is produced as a breakdown of bone tissue. They say that the metabolism of this tissue is dependent on ‘digestive fire’, which must be balanced.

Too much pitta dosha, therefore, causes an imbalance which triggers hair problems.

What Causes Excess Pitta Dosha in the Body?

There are certain foods and habits that are believed to contribute to this imbalance and which may ultimately lead to hair loss.

These include too much:

  • fried food
  • greasy/oily food
  • spicy/sour/acidic food
  • salty food
  • meat
  • smoking
  • tea
  • coffee
  • alcohol

Living in a hot climate is also believed to aggravate pitta dosha.

Ayurvedic Remedies for Hair Loss

There are many remedies for hair loss recommended by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine and I’ve listed some of the more common ones here.

Please click here before trying any of these remedies and always talk to your doctor first

Note from editor

I swallow a teaspoon of aloe vera gel every day, in a glass of water. I cut this from my own aloe plants, which I grow specifically for this purpose. In my experience, it does help considerably with digestion.

Personally, I would not recommend products containing aloe vera gel – I find the ‘real’ gel straight from the plant to be effective, without additives… and cheaper!

However, it is possible to buy aloe vera supplements online if those are more convenient for you.

Aloe Vera Supplements at Amazon

  • Aloe vera juice or gel. This is believed to be very good for digestion, helping balance the pitta dosha. Aloe vera may cause diarrhea if too much is consumed, so it’s best to only try a little at first and gradually increase it to an amount that works for you.
  • Fresh vegetable juices, including spinach, carrot and alfalfa.
  • Yogurt – this is another favorite of mine because of its high protein content. Protein is important for hair growth – and Greek yogurt has the highest protein content of all.
  • Lots of water to clear the body of toxins.
  • Nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B, sulphur, zinc and omega fatty acids – these nutrients are also recommended by western experts to promote hair growth. Please see this page for more information.
  • Sesame seeds (these are rich in various nutrients that support healthy hair)
  • Deep breathing to control stress.
  • Inverted asanas (yoga pose as shown here) to stimulate blood flow to the head and increase hair growth.
    • Bhringaraja. Sometimes called the ‘king of hair’, this herb is probably the most common Ayurvedic medicine for hair loss. Taken internally or used on the scalp as an oil, it is believed to stop hair loss and prevent premature graying.

 

    • Brahmi. Also known as Indian Pennywort, this can be applied to the skin or taken as a supplement. It is believed to prevent hair loss and treat split ends and dandruff.

 

    • Amla Oil. This comes from the Indian Gooseberry and can be used instead of conditioner. It is believed to prevent hair loss by strengthening the follicles.

 

    • Neem Oil. This is believed to promote hair growth by nourishing the scalp. It also protects against dandruff and lice.

 

  • Natural soap nuts – or ‘ritha’. These are used for cleaning the hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
  • Ashwagandha. This is believed to help strengthen the immune system, indirectly promoting healthy hair growth.
  • Hot oil massage. Popular oils include coconut, almond, brahmi and amla. These oils nourish the scalp and hair, whilst massage increases the circulation of blood to the hair’s roots. (NOTE: To safely warm oil, place it in a container, into a bowl of warm water).
  • Horsetail. Recommended by some western hair loss experts too, horsetail is a good source of silica.
Ayurvedic medicine for hair loss

Western Perspectives of Ayurvedic Medicine for Hair Loss

Ayurvedic medicine has not been widely studied in the west – in fact, this interesting article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine discusses how western research has focused more on the effects of certain Ayurvedic treatments, rather than in understanding Ayurveda’s main concepts and principles.

In the US, Ayurvedic medicine is viewed as a type of CAM – Complementary and Alternative Medicine. According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, it was used by 200,000 US adults in the previous year.

The problems with using Ayurvedic medicine for hair loss in the west

In India, a practitioner of Ayurveda (vaidya) will have undergone years of extensive, state recognized, institutionalized training.

In the US, however, no states license Ayurvedic practitioners and there are no national standards for training.

This means that it is VERY important that you thoroughly check the training and background of anyone you consult regarding Ayurvedic treatment.

Buying Ayurvedic medicine for hair loss online

There are LOTS of Ayurvedic remedies available online and they can be very tempting to those of us affected by hair loss and anxious to find a solution as quickly as possible.

However, Ayurvedic products are considered ‘dietary supplements’ in the US. This means that they do not have to meet the same standards of safety and effectiveness as conventional medications.

In 2008, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) funded a study of the contents of Ayurvedic products bought over the internet. These products were either made in India or the US.

Worryingly, the research revealed that 21% of these products contained lead, mercury and/or arsenic that exceeded standards standards acceptable for daily intake.

Another problem with Ayurvedic medicines bought online is that they may produce side effects you weren’t expecting. There is also the risk that they may interact with any conventional medications you are taking, causing unwelcome problems, or – if you try more than one Ayurvedic remedy at a time – may even interact with each other.

So Should you try Ayurvedic Medicine to Treat Your Hair Loss?

To me as a hair loss sufferer, many of the principles of Ayurveda make perfect sense… and the idea of treating the body as a whole in order to tackle the issue of hair loss is an attractive one.

Indeed, many Ayurvedic treatments – such as ensuring the diet is rich in protein and other valuable nutrients, plus the use of scalp massage with certain oils – are more or less in line with western approaches to treating thinning hair.

Respected institutions such as John Hopkins agree that Ayurvedic medicine can certainly produce positive results, but it is very important to take the proper precautions if you wish to try Ayurvedic medicines in the west…

  • Speak to your doctor first and be sure to check that any remedies recommended to you are safe to use and will not conflict with other medications you might be taking. This is particularly important if you are pregnant or nursing.
  • Thoroughly check the background and training of any Ayurvedic practitioner you consult about your hair loss. This page contains some good information about finding a well qualified practitioner.
  • Don’t try treating yourself with Ayurvedic medicine – ensure this is done only under the supervision of a well trained practitioner.

Have You Tried Ayurvedic Medicine for Hair Loss?

If so, then I would love to hear about your experiences.

Please do contact me here with any comments, tips or advice you may have.

Sources – and for more information

The Chopra Center – Understanding Pitta

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

National Ayurvedic Medical Association

Ayurveda for You

Comments from our readers…

Is Ayurveda safe for hair loss?

YES!  Ayurveda is, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) excellent and safe for treating any number of things including hair loss.  The only draw back is the cost as visits are costly and so is the medicine especially when you have to take it for a period of time.

My family and I only see an Ayurvedic doctor or a TCM doctor, with rare visits to Western doctors that we reserve for blood tests or radiology tests.

So give them a go… it is all natural and not only will your hair thicken but your eyes will shine and your skin will glow!

Good luck,

Anna

P.S.  My daughter who is a distance runner was plagued with tenia (athlete’s foot) on her toes that for years she could not get rid of with conventional treatments.  The TCM doctor gave her a potion to drink and it went. That was several years ago… it has never come back! Same with my husband’s chilblains. He was troubled each winter, now he does not remember ever having the condition!


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Does Rogaine Work? The Pros and Cons of this Hair Loss Treatment

 

Does Rogaine® work? This article discusses who might benefit from Rogaine and looks at some of the possible side effects.

NOTE: This information should not be seen as medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor to discuss your concerns about your hair loss and your treatment options.

What is Rogaine®?

Rogaine® – known as Regaine® outside the US – is the brand name of the drug minoxidil. Minoxidil has been proven to help regrow hair in some individuals. It is marketed under several different names, but Rogaine is the most well known.

Rogaine® has an interesting history…

because minoxidil was never intended to treat hair loss initially. Instead, it was developed to treat high blood pressure. During clinical trials to test its effectiveness, researchers noticed that patients previously affected by hair loss were now regrowing hair.

A new hair loss remedy was born!

FDA and Health Canada approved – also licensed in the UK

The FDA in the US, Health Canada and the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency all approve Rogaine as a product for treating hair loss.

This means that – following rigorous testing – they deem it to be safe and effective.

WOMEN’S ROGAINE® 5% MINOXIDIL FOAM is the only once daily product approved to treat female pattern hair loss.

A review published in the July 2014 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology concluded that:

For female AGA (androgenetic alopecia), topical minoxidil solution appears to be the most effective and safe treatment.”

This conclusion was reached after a thorough review of published controlled trials, open studies and case reports of the treatment of male and female AGA.

How Does Rogaine® Work?

Experts do not agree on this 100% – however, the Rogaine website states that minoxidil promotes blood flow to the hair follicles and increases both the size of the follicles and the diameter of the hair shaft.

This stimulates hair growth and prolongs that growth.

Follicles that had, over time, become shrunken and were therefore producing finer hairs should then become larger and subsequently produce thicker hair.

What Rogaine® Products Are Available for Women?

Women’s Rogaine is available as Women’s ROGAINE® 2% Topical Solution
and Women’s ROGAINE® 5% Minoxidil Foam.

The 5% Minoxidil Foam tends to be the most popular, as I’ll explain later in this article.

Does Rogaine® Work for All Types of Hair Loss?

Minoxidil is recommended for women with hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia or AGA.

Hereditary hair loss causes the hair follicles to shrink over time. This tends to cause thinning on the top of the scalp, particularly around the part and sometimes near the front of the scalp.

As explained above, Rogaine has been found to reverse this problem in some women. But it is NOT intended for hair loss caused by other conditions, such as:

It’s also believed to work best in cases where the hair loss is not yet too extensive.

It is a good idea to discuss with your doctor whether or not Rogaine might work for you.

Does Rogaine work?

What Results Can You Expect?

Something that the manufacturers of Rogaine make very clear on their website is that Rogaine will not work for everyone with hereditary hair loss, nor will anyone grow back all their hair.

Nevertheless, some people DO see results – the website claims around 80% of women experience regrowth, whilst a variety of studies have been published indicating some degree of success.

The website WebMD discusses clinical trials that demonstrated that “the 5% minoxidil solution is significantly more effective in both retaining and regrowing hair in women with androgenetic alopecia than the 2% solution.”

NOTE:
You may come across some websites saying that you will need to use Men’s Rogaine in order to receive the 5% dose. Please note that this information was likely not updated when the Women’s ROGAINE® 5% Minoxidil Foam was introduced.

This result is also supported by a fair bit of anecdotal evidence.

Until recently, the 5% solution was only available for men, but that all changed in 2015 when Women’s Rogaine Foam was introduced.

The initial effects of using Rogaine® can be alarming…

with many users experiencing an INCREASE in hair loss.

However, Rogaine’s manufacturers point out that this is a normal – and temporary – state of affairs.

It happens, they say, because the minoxidil prompts the beginning of a new growth cycle. The lost hairs are ‘old’ hairs that would have been lost anyway, but now they are shed in order to make way for the NEW hair growth.

That being said, if the extra shedding does happen to go on for more than 2 weeks, you should speak to your doctor.

The next step should (hopefully) be the appearance of fine new hairs

They may be colorless and very soft. This sometimes happens at around the 3 month mark, but for some people it can take up to 6 months.

The new hair should begin to thicken and strengthen somewhat, although it may be a little different in color and texture to the rest of your hair.

And once you have started to experience regrowth?

Then you need to keep using the Rogaine. Every day. For the rest of your life.

Yes, it sounds daunting, but minoxidil is not a permanent fix or hair loss ‘cure’. It works only as long as it continues to be used.

For some, the thought of having to use a product like this on a daily basis and forever more is simply too much, in which case Rogaine is not for them.

For others, however, the benefits of even SOME regrowth can outweigh this disadvantage.

It’s certainly something to think long and hard about if you’re planning on giving Rogaine a try.

What side effects could you experience?

Rogaine is a topical treatment and does not affect your hormone levels – however, there are other possible side effects to be aware of…

  • A change in the texture or color of the hair
  • Dry/flaky/itchy scalp (although this is more common with the 2% solution – which contains propylene glycol, a known irritant  – than with the 5% foam, which does not)
  • Initial increase in hair shedding (as described above)
  • Rapid heartbeat*
  • Dizziness, light-headedness*
  • Chest pain*
  • Weight gain*
  • Swelling of stomach, face, ankles or hands*

* You should speak to your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms

Will Rogaine® make me grow a beard?

This is a common concern and there are some reported cases of hair appearing on the face and other parts of the body.

This side effect may be caused by not properly washing the hands after using the product (and therefore transferring it to other parts of the body), or by some of the active ingredient being absorbed by the skin into the circulatory system.

Alternatively, this unwanted hair could have been caused by another medical condition, but coincidentally appeared after the application of Rogaine.

In research published in the May 2003 issue of the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 4% of a group of 1,333 women using minoxidil topical solution reported unwanted hair growth.

However, it’s worth noting that some of these women had unwanted facial hair BEFORE using minoxidil (and were, therefore, already prone to excessive unwanted hair growth).

The report’s authors suggested that women sensitive to minoxidil topical solution (MTS) should use the lowest strength (2%) in order to avoid the problem.

It’s also important to note here that unwanted hair growth caused by Rogaine is not permanent. If you stop using the Rogaine, the hair will be lost (in much the same way, unfortunately, as the new hair on your scalp).

It’s up to you to decide if you are prepared to take the relatively small risk of this side effect occurring.

Will Rogaine® make me look old and haggard?

This is an interesting question, because it’s a concern that seems to have spread quite a bit across hair loss forums – yet it’s not a side effect that’s listed in any official literature.

Some women – via comments on websites and forms – claim to have experienced

  • dark circles under the eyes
  • enlarged pores
  • wrinkles
  • sagging skin
  • nasolabial folds
  • loss of fat from the face
  • puffiness
  • premature aging

after using Rogaine or other brands of topical minoxidil.

Many of these comment include mention of a scientific study which, they say, describes how minoxidil has a negative impact on collagen production.

I found this both concerning and intriguing and subsequently spent quite a bit of time researching it. And whilst the people making the comments may have experienced the skin problems mentioned, I feel it is unlikely they were caused by Rogaine (or any other minoxidil hair loss product).

For a start, the research referenced often – and said to ‘prove’ that minoxidil destroys collagen – seemed to be either one of two studies.

The first was research into burn wound healing in rats and therefore likely to be of little relevance, the second was an investigation into the prevention of human scar tissue.  This investigation involved ‘bathing’cells directly in concentrated minoxidil, which is not the same as applying topical minoxidil to the scalp!

There is no published clinical research into a relationship between the use of minoxidil topical solution and the breakdown of collagen. 

There could be various reasons for women feeling that Rogaine was aging their faces. 

As a hair loss sufferer myself, I know that we spend a LOT of time peering into mirrors, minutely inspecting our scalps and hairlines. This makes us very conscious of the state of our skin – and it can be very easy, after reading comments like – “Rogaine has given me wrinkles” – to think “Hey, that’s happened to me!”.

Yet the passing of time – and possibly nutritional deficiencies, stress, or whatever else has contributed to our hair loss – has likely taken its toll on our skin, too.

Something else that struck me as I researched these claims were comments made by William Rassman MD on his ‘Balding Blog’:

” I’ve had 3 people in almost 4 years ask about minoxidil and wrinkles… questions based on what they’ve read or heard (not experienced).”

And later…

” I’ve had 1 or 2 people on this site post under at least 30-40 different names, all with the same basic message (about problems with minoxidil), same spelling errors, and same IP address.

Just goes to show that those that are most vocal are the ones that have a complaint — but, it might even just be one person under a few dozen names trying to be deceiving.”

I found this interesting because I, too, had noticed the repeated use of certain phrases and grammar on the comments I had read on a variety of forums.

Whilst I’m not implying that there’s any ‘conspiracy’ going on here, it could be that a lot of ‘sharing’ of information online and subsequent panic may have made the problem seem more widespread and ‘real’ than it actually is.

Nevertheless, if YOU feel that you have experienced similar symptoms as a result of using Rogaine, then please do let me know by using the form at the end of this article.

Who SHOULDN’T use Rogaine®?

If any of the following apply to you, you should not use Rogaine, or at least speak to your doctor first.

  • If your thinning hair is due to anything other than hereditary hair loss (AGA).
  • If you are using any other topical medication on your scalp.
  • If you are pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant.
  • If you have any allergies.
  • If you have any existing scalp conditions, such as eczema, or a scalp infection.
  • If you have heart, liver or kidney problems.
  • If you are taking any other medication.
  • If you have sunburn or broken skin on your scalp (this can cause you to absorb too much minoxidil through your skin).

Tips for using Rogaine®

If you or your doctor have decided that Rogaine might be right for you, here are some useful tips for avoiding problems and getting the best results possible…

  • Many women prefer the Women’s ROGAINE® 5% Foam as it is less likely to cause irritation, it has been found to be more effective, it is easier to apply, it only has to be used once a day, and it dries more quickly.
  • Women’s ROGAINE® 2% solution might be the best choice if you are already prone to unwanted hair growth.
  • Test a small area of your scalp before using Rogaine all over, to make sure you are not allergic to it.
  • Don’t panic if you shed more hair initially – this is common, as explained above. But if it continues past 2 weeks, discuss the problem with your doctor.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after use to avoid transferring the treatment to other parts of the body.
  • Use it 2 to 4 hours before going to bed, to give it time to dry properly. There is some suggestion that it can get on to your pillow-case if it is not properly dry – and then on to your face – potentially causing unwanted hair growth.
  • If buying Rogaine online at a ‘discount’ rate, check first that it is well within its “use by” date (I have heard from women who bought a large, cheap supply, only to discover that they could never possibly use it all before its expiration date).
  • If you miss a dose, don’t try to catch up. One or two missed doses are not believed to have any negative effect.
  • Don’t try using extra Rogaine in order to see results more quickly. It won’t speed things up.
  • You can still blow dry your hair and use styling products on your hair as usual.
  • You can still have your hair colored, permed or relaxed, but it’s important not to use Rogaine for 24 hours before and after the treatment, and to wash the hair and scalp before applying the chemicals.
  • Don’t get your hair wet up to four hours after using Rogaine.
  • Do not dry Rogaine with a hairdryer. It may make the dose less effective.
  • If you’re using a cotton pillowcase, try switching to silk or satin. The texture is ideal for fragile hair and helps prevent breakage.

Resources and for more information…

Mayo Clinic – Topical Minoxidil

Minoxidil: mechanisms of action on hair growth

5% Minoxidil: Treatment for Female Pattern Hair Loss

Your experiences with Rogaine

If you’ve tried Rogaine, please share your experience by filling out the simple form below.

With your approval I’ll publish your comments here to help other readers decide if minoxidil might be right for them.

Comments from our readers…

Yes. Rogaine works!

I have used it daily for 35 years. First I got Hashimoto’s syndrome and began lo lose my hair.

Then, I inherited alopecia areata from my mother’s side of the family.

I have kept enough hair so far, otherwise I know I’ll be wearing a wig. All you need is to be constant and use it every single day.

From Mari

I used Rogaine for 4 months and experienced more hair loss. I believe my hair issue/loss is hereditary and/or due to some unknown health issued and it states not to use this product if  I  had any of those things, but I felt it didn’t hurt to try.

I am not positive but it seems more bald than before. I’m 26 and  I  am afraid to lose more hair, so for me Rogaine didn’t work. I lost a little more hair and did not see any growth.

From Christina, Nevada, USA





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Will a Silk or Satin Pillowcase Help Prevent Hair Loss?

Using a silk or satin pillowcase is one of the simplest things you can do to benefit your hair. I use one myself and I love it – so on this page I’m going to explain why!

Silk or satin pillowcase

What’s wrong with using a cotton pillowcase?

There is a subtle ‘roughness’ to cotton, which tends to create friction between your hair and the pillowcase. This friction can cause breakage and can be an issue if, like mine, your hair is particularly fragile and brittle. 

A silk or satin pillowcase is smoother than cotton

So – quite simply – it is gentler on your hair.

In my experience, this makes itself apparent in several ways:

  • Your hair is far less frizzy in the mornings.
  • Your blow-dried hairstyle lasts longer. (Previously, if I blow-dried my hair, the style would last only until I slept on it. With a silk pillowcase, I can wake up with it STILL looking nice!)
  • The hair feels softer and FAR less dry. For me, the difference has been quite remarkable. Instead of teasing out tangled, dry ends in the morning (which caused a lot of breakage), my brush glides much more easily through smooth hair. I’m seeing a lot less breakage as a result.

And if all those benefits weren’t enough, the smoothness of a silk or satin pillowcase makes it kinder on your skin, too. It helps you avoid a face full of creases when you wake up and is believed to help prevent the formation of wrinkles!

Some people attribute the benefits of silk or satin pillowcases to absorbency. They say that cotton absorbs the moisture from your hair and skin, leaving them dry, whereas silk and satin do not. Whilst this may be true of polyester satin, silk is actually a very absorbent natural fabric, yet it still leaves the hair feeling soft. My view, then, is that it’s the reduction in friction that’s so very beneficial to the hair. 

So which is best – a silk or satin pillowcase?

A popular misconception is that ‘satin’ is a kind of fabric. It isn’t.

Instead the term ‘satin’ describes a type of weave, which is smooth because it has no visible interlacing pattern.

Originally, all satin was made of silk, but these days you can buy both silk satin and polyester satin.

You may also come across a ‘charmeuse’ satin, which is a particularly luxurious, very finely woven type of satin. Charmeuse can be made with silk, or with a man-made fabric like polyester. 

My preference is for a silk pillowcase

I have tried polyester satin and found that it caused static in my fine hair – absolutely the last thing I need!

I find natural silk to be breathable, with a luxurious, soft texture I truly enjoy sleeping on.

If you think you might prefer polyester, then try looking for a charmeuse polyester satin, which is closer to silk in texture. Cheap polyester satin can be very slippery and is much more likely to cause static.

Remember that – unless stated otherwise – silk or satin pillowcases tend to be sold in packs of one.

LILYSILK 100 Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase

  • Pure silk on one side, cotton on the other.
    Pro: The cotton side holds the pillow more firmly in place on your sheet. 
    Con: If you tend to turn your pillow at night, you’ll end up sleeping on cotton.
  • Available in 8 colors
  • Good quality silk with charmeuse weave.

Click here to order

Do YOU use a silk or satin pillowcase?

Then please do leave your comments below – I’d love to know the type you prefer, and why!



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Female Pattern Hair Loss – Your Questions Answered

 

Female pattern hair loss – sometimes referred to as androgenetic alopecia – is a very common condition. Whilst it mostly affects women after menopause, it can affect much younger women too.

It can be very traumatic for those of us who experience it – after all, our hair makes us feel feminine and beautiful, so losing it can be stressful.

On this page, I’ll look closer at this condition – its causes, symptoms, potential treatments and approaches for coping. Please do let me know if you have any experiences you’d like to share on this page.


Please note: This information is not to be seen as medical advice. It is very important to contact a medical professional to discuss your hair loss.

What is Female Pattern Hair Loss?

Female pattern hair loss is the gradual thinning of hair over time.

As mentioned above, it is often referred to as androgenetic alopecia or androgenic alopecia. Some refer to it as female pattern baldness.

However, many experts feel that none of these terms are strictly correct.

The ‘andro’ part of the words ‘androgenetic’ and ‘androgenic’  refers to androgens – hormones that can influence hair growth.

Yet not all female pattern hair loss is connected to an excess of androgens, as was once believed.

The ‘genetic’ or ‘genic’ part of the word refers to genes, implying that female pattern hair loss is always triggered by genetics (ie inherited from a family member). Sometimes, it is – but not always.

And the term ‘baldness’ indicates total loss of hair, which is extremely rare with female pattern hair loss.

Given that these terms are misleading, then, many medical professionals prefer to use the term ‘female pattern hair loss’. So that’s the term I’ll use throughout this article.

Symptoms

With female pattern hair loss, the thinning usually occurs all over the head, not in patches. And it doesn’t usually affect the hairline.

It hardly ever progresses to complete baldness – in most cases the loss is mild to moderate. But it can progress far enough to be noticeable. And – unfortunately – the loss tends to be permanent.

The condition creeps up very gradually.

It can start with the appearance of thinner, shorter hairs, which are eventually shed and not replaced. This tends to happen more on the crown and the top of the head.

If you have noticed a slightly wider part and that your hair just ‘feels’ thinner, female pattern hair loss may be to blame.

Usually, there is no itching associated with female pattern hair loss, although some women do say that they feel a burning sensation, particularly when brushing their hair or changing their part.

The shedding can stop and start, with the hair loss seeming worse at some times than others.

Who is at risk of female pattern hair loss? What causes it?

Female pattern hair loss affects around 30 million women in the US and around 50% of women over the age of 65. According to DermNet in New Zealand, by the age of 80 less than 45% of women have a full head of hair.

Female pattern hair loss usually strikes when a woman is in her 50s or 60s (late onset), but it can start as early as the teens to early twenties (early onset).

Unfortunately, the cause isn’t clearly understood by medical experts – indeed, there seem to be various forms of pattern hair loss caused by a variety of possible influences, both genetic and hormonal.

This makes it very difficult to predict who might be affected.

As mentioned earlier, androgens play a part in some cases.

If you have an increased level of androgens in your hair follicles, the cycle of hair growth can be shortened. This leads to the growth of thinner, shorter hairs and a delay in new growth once hairs are shed. The hair follicle shrinks over time, and eventually new hairs will not grow at all.

The follicle doesn’t die, though, so there is the possibility that hair could grow again given the right stimulus. For some women this is minoxidil (read more in treatments, below).

Genes may also play a part…

… and if your mother or father experienced pattern hair loss, then your risk of doing so is higher.

Even estrogen levels can be a factor.

Female pattern hair loss is more common after menopause, which might suggest that falling estrogen levels trigger the shedding. In complete contradiction of this, however, are some laboratory experiments that indicate that estrogen may suppress hair growth.

The age of onset of female pattern hair loss may be related to the cause.

Women suffering from early onset hair loss (teens to twenties) tend to have more male family members with male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness has been proven to be related to androgen levels. Women with early onset hair loss often have other signs of high androgen levels OR a greater sensitivity to androgen.

These signs include

  • a history of hirsutism (unwanted hair growth, such as excessive facial hair)
  • irregular periods
  • persistent adult acne

Most women with female pattern hair loss who are subsequently found to have high levels of androgens in their blood tend to experience the symptoms shown above.

If you do not have any of these symptoms, then it seems far less likely that androgens are to blame for your early onset hair loss.

For older women (40s and upwards), the symptoms of excessive androgens related to hair loss are less likely and many sources suggest that menopause causes a decrease in blood androgens. So the potential cause of hair loss become even less clear!

How is female pattern hair loss diagnosed?

When you first visit your doctor regarding your hair loss, he/she will usually carry out a series of tests to rule out other causes, such as thyroid problems or low iron.

He will look at the appearance of your hair loss – to see if it is ‘patchy’, for example – which is inconsistent with female pattern hair loss, or if it seems to follow the ‘pattern’ typically seen with this condition.

He may ask you questions about how you wear your hair, to determine whether or not your hair loss might be caused by traction alopecia.

He will look at your medical history, which might reveal a genetic disposition to hair loss. He may also look for signs that your androgen levels are high, such as hair in unusual places (such as the face or lower abdomen), acne, or changes in your menstruation.

Tests for hair loss may include blood tests, skin biopsies, or microscopic examination of the hair.

What’s the prognosis?

The progression of female pattern hair loss tends to be slow for most women. For those with early onset hair loss, things may (sadly) progress a bit more quickly.

It’s rare for all the hair to be lost, but in many cases the loss does become noticeable.

How is female pattern hair loss treated?

There are a few treatment options available, but they only tend to work modestly well, and even then they don’t work for everyone.

There are also an awful lot of products on the market that claim to treat the problem, but most are ineffective… not to mention expensive!

Of course, any products that claim to be able to fix this problem is going to be tempting to those of us who’ve experienced the trauma of hair loss – but it’s very important to do your research and not be drawn into wasting money on ‘remedies’ that will never work.

Medications

Some of the treatments your doctor may suggest include

  • Minoxidil. Better known by the brand name ‘Rogaine’, minoxidil may help regrow hair in some women and will more often slow down or stop hair loss in others. It works best if started before the hair loss has progressed very far, which is why it’s important to seek an early diagnosis from your doctor. Minoxidil must be applied daily, for life.
    You can read more about minoxidil (Rogaine) here
  • Spironolactone.  Also known by the brand name Aldactone, this drug is somewhat effective in women whose hair loss is caused by excessive androgens. It can, however, cause side effects, some serious.
  • Flutamide. Like spironolactone, this drug blocks the effects of androgens on the body, but can also produce serious side effects.
  • Cimetidine. More commonly known under its brand name Tagamet, cimetidine is mainly used to treat heartburn. But it also has an anti androgenic effect and can be used to treat hair loss where excess androgens are to blame.
  • Finasteride. This is useful for women with high testosterone levels. However, it is not widely recommended for women because it can cause foetal abnormalities in pregnancy. For women unable to use finasteride, saw palmetto might make a good alternative (read more here). 
  • Cyproterone acetate. Used as a birth control pill in the UK (Dianette), this is another drug used to block the effects of excess androgens. It does cause some side effects, including tender breasts and mood changes, but many women take it with no issues at all. That being said, it can (rarely) lead to blood clots.

Your doctor will probably recommend that you continue with your treatment for at least 6 months, to allow him/her to properly assess the results. Don’t be tempted to simply stop your medication if you feel that you are not seeing results quickly enough.

Other treatments

Hair transplant

This involves taking tiny plugs of hair from areas where it is thick and placing them in thin areas. 

The good news is that it is very effective and the results are permanent.

The bad news? It’s expensive!

To assess whether or not this option might be suitable for you, you would need to speak to a transplant surgeon.

Hair pieces

Depending on the severity of the hair loss and exactly where it is, hair pieces or weaves can be useful for disguising thin patches. BUT – your existing hair needs to be strong enough and you shouldn’t wear the hair piece or weave for too long in the same place. This is because you might run the risk of further hair loss caused by traction alopecia.

A new look

Alternatively, try a simple change of hairstyle. If your hair is thin in the middle, something as simple as putting your part on the side can make a big difference. Or try forming a zig-zag part – it takes a little practice but it’s very effective!

Have a chat with your stylist as he/she may be able to come up with a cut that makes the most of the hair you have and disguises the thin bits!

‘Make up’ for the hair

Fill-in powders and thickening fibers are great – they really help to hide the hair loss by preventing your scalp from being as visible. You can see some of the more popular ones here. 

Platelet rich plasma therapy

This involves taking blood, then separating it with a machine into its different components. The blood platelets are then treated and injected into your scalp, which is believed to help stimulate the follicles to trigger hair growth. However, more research into this treatment is needed and there seems to be little scientific evidence available of its success.

Laser treatment

This seems quite limited in its effectiveness, although some people claim to have achieved good results. You can read more about laser therapy here.

Hair loss shampoos

These are not effective for female pattern hair loss, despite their claims. Most hair loss shampoos work by strengthening existing hair and promoting a healthy scalp. Whilst this is beneficial, it’s important to to keep your expectations realistic, especially with some of the more expensive products!

Diet

A nutritious diet is essential for healthy hair. Good iron levels are particularly important, as is an adequate intake of zinc.

Learn more about which foods are best for your hair here. 

Omega fatty acids

I’ve listed these nutrients separately as there’s some interesting scientific research which has shown that they really may increase hair density in women with female pattern hair loss. Read more about this research here. 

Tips to protect your hair and scalp

  • When your hair is thinner, your scalp is much more vulnerable to sun damage. Take care to protect it with a suitable covering.
  • Prevent breakage of your existing hair by using a wide tooth comb when it’s tangled.
  • Try sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase, which will be much more gentle on your hair than cotton.
  • Don’t rub your hair with a towel – try blotting it with a T-shirt instead.

Dealing with female pattern hair loss

There’s no doubt about it – losing your hair is very difficult to deal with.

What makes it worse for some of us is the lack of understanding – the idea that we should cheer up because  ‘there are worse things that can happen’. Or the attitude (especially from some doctors) that we should ‘expect’ to lose hair as we get older.

Whilst that’s true to a certain extent, many of us are being told that WAY before an age where we should really be expecting to lose hair. What’s more, the degree of hair loss that some doctors dismiss as ‘insignificant’ often feels rather more significant to those of us experiencing it!

Sadly, though, the true cause of female pattern hair loss remains largely a mystery to the medical profession and whilst there may be treatments that may help some women, there is no guaranteed cure.

We then have to decide how to deal with the problem, particularly if we have tried various treatment options without success. Or if we simply don’t want to consider medication at all.

Acceptance

The road to acceptance is a long and difficult one, but for many women the decision to accept the situation can bring peace, and a real sense of relief.

For some, it may mean a decision to entirely give up attempts to hide or disguise thin or balding patches, and to simply live with them.

For others, it may mean turning to a wig. And this doesn’t have to be quite as bad as it sounds!

The (many) benefits of wearing a wig

A visitor to this site – Joy – wrote me a message that she gave me permission to share with you here.

I found her words encouraging, and the idea of wearing a wig much easier to come to terms with. I hope that you will too.

I was diagnosed with female pattern hair loss in 2005, after several years of losing hair on and off. I was losing hair in the middle, from behind my hair line, and I was frantic to stop it.

I tried everything – prescription drugs, Rogaine, supplements, you name it. And nothing worked for me.

One day I decided I’d had enough. I didn’t want any more medications. The drugs I was on tended to cause side effects anyway, giving me even more problems to worry about. And I was tired of spending hours on the internet, hunting for the magic solution to my problem, spending money on one useless lotion after another.

So I decided to accept that I’d lost my hair. It wasn’t going to grow back. And I might lose more.

Then I decided to plan how I was going to handle that.

Well, I decided to buy a wig. And I can honestly say I haven’t looked back.

Since that day, I’ve bought lots, in different styles and colors. Sure, people know I wear a wig – they also know that many pop starts and actresses wear wigs and hairpieces too.

The motto these days seems to be, ‘If you haven’t got it, fake it!’. Well, that’s just what I’m doing.

There are so many advantages to wearing a wig!

My hair ALWAYS looks good. I don’t have to spend hours washing, drying and styling it. The time I spend getting ready to go out has more than halved. I feel GOOD!

Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m married. And no, my husband hasn’t seen me without my wig. And that’s just it – no one needs to see you without it unless you want them to!

You can swim with a wig on and you can wear it during ‘romantic interludes’ too! If you have some hair left, I find the best way of securing it is with toupee clips sewn in the front and back.

Deciding to wear a wig is a big step and a difficult one. But if you’re like me and you’ve had enough of the merry go round of drugs and failed treatments, then I recommend embracing the decision so that you can get back to enjoying your life… and forgetting all about your hair.

I have received other messages from women who have found living with a wig far less traumatic than they’d feared. Like Joy, many had even learned to enjoy it.

If this is something you’re considering – or if you’re anxious or depressed about your hair loss – considering seeking a support group in your area, or check out alopeciaworld.com, which is fantastic.

Discuss your options with other wig wearers – you don’t have to go for a full wig and may be able to take advantage of something like a lace hair system, which simply covers the area that’s thinning.

Difficult though it may seem, it’s so important to try to keep a healthy perspective on your hair loss. Try to focus on the positive things in your life, enjoy them, be thankful, and above all remember that you are so much more than your hair.

Comments from our readers…

When I started wearing my wig people thought I looked 10 years younger.  I buy a new wig every 6 months or so because the sun damages them and they lose their ‘poof’ after washing.

Wigs in the USA are much cheaper than in Canada.  The same wig is $130 there and over $200 here.  Raquel Welch is the brand that I buy.

Marilyn, Ontario, Canada

Sources

US National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus

American Hair Loss Association

British Association of Dermatology

North American Hair Research Society

The Trichological Society

National Health Service


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Metoprolol Hair Loss – Is Medication Causing your Thinning Hair?

 

I often receive messages from visitors to this website who feel that their hair loss may be connected to the medication they are taking. One drug that sometimes comes up in these messages is metoprolol, the generic form of brand name drugs Lopressor, Metoprolol Succinate, Metoprolol Tartrate and Toprol XL.

Metoprolol is a beta-blocker and is used to treat high blood pressure, chest pain and other heart-related conditions.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is given for guidance purposes only. 

It is VERY important to continue taking metoprolol at the dosage prescribed and to thoroughly discuss your hair loss with your doctor, only stopping the medication if advised to do so. Discontinuing this medication unsupervised could lead to a major cardiac event.

Sue – a visitor to this website – described her experience of discontinuing metoprolol …

My primary doctor along with a cardiologist told me discontinuing immediately would not cause problems, because of the low dose I was on.

Four days after stopping the medication, after I – on my own – decreased the dose in half for 5 days, I began having adrenalin rushes and rapid heart rate over 100 . Because panic/ anxiety attacks give a similar history, the doctors alluded to the fact that this was the cause. On my own I felt compelled to have a cardiac stress test and echo cardiogram – both were normal. During that time period as the cardiologist got to know me, he finally admitted that coming off the beta blocker too fast was probably the cause and not panic attacks.

So does metoprolol cause hair loss?

Metoprolol hair loss

As with many medications, the answer to this depends on who you ask!

Invariably, visitors to this website have been told categorically by their doctors that the drug is not to blame for their thinning hair.

However, the websites WebMD  and The Mayo Clinic both list hair loss as a ‘rare’ side effect. So if you’ve noticed an increase in shedding since taking this drug, then it could quite possibly be the cause.

Another website – eHealthme – amalgamates information about different drugs and conditions that are reported to the FDA or social media, then presents its findings as statistical data. Whilst this information can in no way be construed as concrete fact, it perhaps gives some indication of the scale of the connection between metoprolol and hair loss.

According to the statistics presented, hair loss due to Metropolol Tartrate is most common in women aged 60+, who have taken the drug for 1 to 6 months. Out of 39,532 reports of side effects from the drug, 311 were regarding hair loss (this represents 0.79% of reported side effects). For Metoprolol Succinate, the figure was 0.85%.

These statistics do seem to confirm that hair loss from metoprolol is relatively rare, but not unheard of. The fact that it is most common in women over 60 is not particularly surprising, given that the majority of men and women prescribed beta-blockers fall into this age group.

What can you do if you believe metoprolol is causing your hair loss?

First, talk to your doctor.

Yes, it’s important to know if it’s the drug that’s causing it, but it’s equally important to let your doctor know so that he/she can test for other causes (low iron, for example, or a thyroid problem).

It’s also worth remembering that our hair does tend to thin somewhat as we age, particularly if there is a family history of female pattern hair loss, or after menopause.

If your doctor is unable to diagnose any other cause…

…then ask if it would be possible to adjust your dose, or if there is another medication you could try. Hair loss caused by a particular medication usually stops when that medication is stopped.

(Incidentally, a visitor to this website told me how she recommends having a chat with your local pharmacist. Pharmacists, of course, have an enormous amount of knowledge to share on issues like these, yet few of us think of consulting them!)

Whilst this page looks at hair loss seemingly triggered by metoprolol, some women report this problem with other similar medications. Please see my page about Medications that Cause Hair Loss for further information.

What can you do if the hair loss continues?

Even if your doctor agrees that there’s a connection between the metoprolol and your hair loss, lowering your dose or prescribing a different medication may not be an option.

In that case, it is important to take particularly good care of your existing hair, and to do all you can to maximize hair growth. If the hair loss is severe, then you can bolster your confidence by using techniques to camouflage the problem.

  • Try to avoid using heat – and harsh chemical treatments – as much as possible. If you really want to color your hair, opt for a dye like Clairol Natural Instincts Loving Care, which is free from ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Think about trying a hair loss shampoo. They cannot make your hair grow back, but often contain ingredients to nourish existing hair and promote scalp health.
  • Visit your stylist for a cut to help disguise the hair loss. A good cut can make a huge difference!
  • Try a volumizer – they can be very useful for making thin, limp hair a lot easier to work with.
  • If your hairline is affected, try wearing a soft, wide headband to cover it (ensuring that it is not pulling on the roots).
  • If your hair loss is so severe that you can see your scalp, think about using a product designed to camouflage it.

Please Share Your Experiences!

Do you believe your hair loss is due to metoprolol or have you previously experienced thinning hair after taking this drug?

Have you experienced regrowth after switching from metoprolol to a different medication?

Whatever your experience, I’d love to hear from you! Please share your story by completing the simple form below…


Comments from our readers…

I take Metropolol.  I am losing my hair and have been wondering what is causing this increase in my hair loss.  I have been tested for thyroid but it always comes out fine.  I do have my hair colored by a professional.  I will be seeing my doctor Tuesday and I’m going to ask him to switch my blood pressure meds.

From Marsha, New Jersey, USA

Began 12.5 mgm April 29th. Dose increased to 25 mgm on 6/25. Hair loss began end of August. Hair brush filled with long strands with each brushing. Blood work by dermatologist all negative for causes. I refused scalp biopsy. Metoprolol stopped Sept. 12. In 3 weeks much improved. Docs still won’t confirm caused by metoprolol!!?

From Susan, Maryland, USA

I have been taking Metoprolol 50 mg for 12 years. No hair loss. Dose was increased to 100 mg about 6 months ago. About 2 months into taking the increased dose I started losing a lot of hair. For the past year I have also been taking Xarelto 20 mm.

From Dorothea,  USA

My hair stylist and I noticed hair loss recently around my forehead.  She thought tying a scarf to the front of my head was chopping it off but I stop using the scarf and it’s continuing breaking and thinning exactly in front.  I’ve never experienced this sort of problem.  Had beautiful healthy hair, at one time as long as all the down to my lower back.  I’ve been taking metoprolol for about a year now.  I also been taking Zetia for approximately three months.  I’m calling my MD asap on Monday to make appointment.

From Liz, Tennessee,  USA

I am taking 50 mg of metoporol, my hair has been falling to the point that is very thin now. I finished a box of capsules which are indicated for severe hair loss and my hair has not stopped falling.The only medication I take is Metroporol, that is why I started to investigate if other people have had hair loss while taking  it.

From Alexandra, NY, USA

I am a 33-yr old male. I started taking metoprolol in May ’16 and immediately my hair started falling. My cardiologist believed it wasn’t for the medication. Visited one of the best dermatologists in the nation and he said with confidence that my hair problem is not because of metoprolol because I’ve had a family history of LPP (Lichen Planopilaris). Another cardiologist believed it was weird that none of my doctors were suspicious of my medication. Anyway, the timings make me suspicious, but it could also be wishful thinking. I’m stopping metoprolol this week to see what happens.

From Alan, NY, USA

NOTE FROM EDITOR: It is very important to consult your doctor before stopping metoprolol – please see this warning. 

Started taking 25mg Metropolol daily, 4 months ago. Metropolol is the only meds I’m taking. Hair thinning was noticeable after 1 month, thinning continues can now see scalp and sun burn through hair. Can actually gently pull hair like one would to a dog to test for shedding, yup I’m shedding. Will talk to doctor about reducing meds or weaning off. Not good. I’m 48 male with what was a full head of hair, genetically I’m supposed to have a full head of hair, older brothers are not experiencing hair loss, nor on Metropolol. I’m going to get of this stuff.

From Matt, USA

I was taking Metoprolol (50 mg) at night and 20 mg of Lisinopril in the morning. I started losing some hair when I combed my hair. I also had a dry cough that started when I started taking Lisinopril. The cardiologist recently took me off of the Lisinopril and told me to just take the Metoprolol twice a day. I have been taking it about 3 wks and now my hair is falling out even more. (The doctor gave me a prescription for 50 mg of Metroprolol instead of 20 mg so I have been cutting them in half but that’s still more than the 20 mg of Lisinopril I was taking. I’m going to my family physician and see what he says before going back to the cardiologist.

From Shirley, Louisiana, USA

I am bald. I took Metoprol 25mg twice a day for almost 3 months. I had a big loss of the eyebrows! I had very dense eyebrows and much body hair. My mother – who had the same dosage for a year and a half – had total loss of eyebrows, hair loss and thinning of hair. I also observe shrinkage of little haemagiomas that I had. Totally disappointed with cardiologists who didn’t warn me about hair loss from Metoprolol .The company who produces the drug should add to the specs of the drug VERY COMMON side effects: HAIR LOSS

From Vasileios, Greece

I was on Metoprolol tartrate 50mg for about 5yrs this caused temple thinning. My Dr. recently (6/27/2017) changed to Metoprolol ER Succinate 25mg daily and I now have major hair loss. I have no temple hair on either side.I am so concerned about losing all of my hair.

From Mary, Indiana, USA

I have been taking metoprolol for a few years. I noticed my hair thinning but not the balding! My husband noticed it too. I have tried Rogaine. Biotin. Vitamin B complex. Higher grade shampoos. No results. Then I had an idea to google side effects of my high blood pressure meds. Only other med I take is Estrodial since 1994. I believe my problem is Metoprol.

From Jacqueline, Texas, USA

I have been on Metoprolol since July 25, 2017.  In September, I noticed a great deal of hair coming out.  I have always had very fine hair, so this is devastating.  I went to the doctor and they did blood work.  I received a call “all is fine”.  I am getting off of this medication.  This can’t go on because I will be bald.  I am looking for wigs right now.

From Barbara, USA

I have experienced extreme hair loss. I am a 33 year old woman and started taking metoprolol for high blood pressure and anxiety. These are my only health issues. The hair loss began about 1 month into taking it.

From Lynn, IN, USA

I’ve been on the medication for about a year now and I’ve experienced so much hair loss I thought I had alopecia. I was tested and I don’t! My doc informed me it wasn’t due to the pills. I must add I had a hysterectomy at the age of 38, I’m now 42, I was informed it could be due to early menopause. I truly believe it’s the pills! I’ve been  off the pills for about a week now, therefore I haven’t noticed any change! I will be sure to update either way!

From Tanya, USA

I am a female who started noticing unusual hair loss about 2 months
ago. I come from a family where both females and males have black thick
hair, so I found that unusual. Trying to think of a possible cause, I
noticed that a little before that my doctor changed my hypertension
medication to Metoprolol Tartrate 50 mg. When reading about its side
effects, I read that hair loss using this medication is rare, but not
unheard of. Recent lab tests show no anemia, thyroid problems or any
other condition that may explain the situation. I will be talking to my
doctor to see if it is possible to change medication. I never
experienced this with my previous medication (Atelonol) which is no
longer manufactured.

From Helvetia, OK, USA

I am 66 years old. I have been on Metoprolol for a year. My hair began to get thinner and began to fall out.

From Debra, WV, USA

I have been on Metoprolol 25 mg for about 10 years. I am now 70. I have been experiencing hair loss since being on the medicine and my scalp is now showing.

From Elizabeth, MA, USA

I’m a 25 y/o female and have been taking 50mg of Metoprolol for a little over 10 years. Starting in April 2017 I noticed more hair loss than normal. Now Jan 2018, I have thinning patches on both sides of my head as well as extreme thinning on the right. I’m easily able to pull my hair out from my scalp as well. Family has NO history of hair loss. All of the elders in the family NEVER lost their hair. Talked to doc and trying new medication w/ less chance of hair loss. Will take biotin during.

From Shaye, Ohio, USA




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Can this salon treatment really repair damaged hair?

 

My Experience With Olaplex (™)

Despite suffering from hair loss and damage, I still do something I know I shouldn’t. Around once every three months I get my hair colored and sometimes (gasp!) highlighted.

I realize that the hair I do have would be a lot less prone to breakage if I learned to embrace its natural color. Unfortunately, though, its natural color is a very unflattering shade of mousy brown – leaving me rather resigned to accepting the damage in return for a color that doesn’t leave me quite so depressed when I look in the mirror!

A few months ago, however, my hairdresser offered me a possible way out of this Catch-22 situation when she introduced me to Olaplex (™).

So What Is Olaplex (™)?

Olaplex (™) is a treatment applied at the salon and which you can ‘top up’ at home with Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment.

It is designed to reconnect broken disulfide bonds in the hair – in other words, fix the damage. It is NOT just another conditioning treatment – you still have to use conditioner as usual – but claims to actually repair the structure of the hair and prevent it from any further damage. It is silicone-, sulfate- and phthalate-free.

I researched the product whilst at the salon and there is a LOT of buzz about it in the beauty industry.

Among its many raving fans are Kim Kardashian. Kim – who once famously bleached her dark locks platinum blonde – said of Olaplex:

When your hair is really damaged, if you sleep in that, it really works. I notice a huge difference.”

In addition to Kim’s recommendation are MANY positive reviews online from women who feel it has dramatically improved the strength and structure of their hair. I also came across lots of impressive before and after photographs from individuals who’d tried it.



So I happily agreed to pay extra (£20 extra!) to go ahead with the treatment, and my hair felt lovely after it was done. I got home and immediately ordered myself the Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 version to use at home.

And I actually felt really excited that – at last – there might be a product that could reverse any damage I’d done to my hair and allow me guilt-free coloring in future! I looked forward to writing about my discovery here on Hair Sentinel to encourage those of you with similarly fragile hair to give it a try.

Sadly, though, this review isn’t the glowingly positive one I thought it would be.

Can Olaplex repair damaged hair?

The results

At first things seemed fine, but after two or three applications of the home treatment, I noticed that my hair felt odd – almost hard and very, very dry and with a peculiar stiffness that felt as if I’d left product in it. What’s more, it had become difficult to style, quickly losing its shape.

Finally – and perhaps the most depressingly – the breakage continued unabated!

Now, my results don’t seem to be typical and I continue to come across rave reviews of the Olaplex treatment. I’m sure it does produce amazing results for some people – but clearly not for everyone.

When I returned to my hairdresser this week and told her what I’d experienced, I discovered that one of her other clients had had similar problems.

I’m still sad that it didn’t work for me – I’ve never felt quite so hopeful about a treatment before – but I’ve resigned myself once again to minimizing any damage with lots of conditioner!

I’d love to hear from you, though, if YOU’VE found it effective. Please do drop me a line if you’ve used Olaplex (™) and let me know what you thought of it.

Comments from our readers…

I read your experience with Olaplex and it was though I wrote it myself. Everything about it. This combined with taking a beta blocker called Propanolol for the past 7 months. Consequently my once thick hair (even for my age) is thin and broken. I’m devastated. I am taking Pronexa and using Purad’or shampoo. Praying it will eventually come back. My hairdresser has been using no ammonia color. I’m afraid to even do that now. I feel for you too. This product is not for everyone and neither is Prolanolol!

Kathi, from United States

My hairdresser put me onto this product and I have found to be good. I find when I wash my hair, LESS hairs fall out during washing and conditioning, which is a blessing for me as I have VERY fine hair. I apply mine to DRY hair at night, once a week. I don’t put too much on, just enough to give a fine coating. I leave on all night, then RINSE my hair BEFORE washing the next morning and then condition as usual.I apply styling products and dry as I normally would.

Jane, from Australia





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Win the iRestore Hair Growth System

 

Win One Unit – Worth $695

This giveaway is now closed and was won by Tammy O – congratulations Tammy!  Please click here to learn more about hair loss laser treatment.

Earlier this year I wrote an article about Hair Loss Laser Treatment. This treatment involves exposing the scalp to a special light, several times a week. The light – which can penetrate below the scalp’s surface – is perfectly safe and is believed to stimulate follicles and trigger hair growth.

This type of therapy doesn’t work for everyone – for example, it cannot influence hair growth where there is an underlying cause such as hypothyroidism or low iron. But there is evidence to suggest that it can be helpful in cases of genetic hair loss, or with alopecia areata.

The article – which you can read in full here – explains that hair loss laser therapy is available at salons, but is very expensive.

Another option, however, is to use a portable device at home.

And the good news is that I was recently contacted by the makers of the iRestore unit, who are offering you the opportunity to do just that!

Just enter our giveaway, and one lucky winner will receive an FDA cleared iRestore Hair Growth System absolutely FREE.

More About the iRestore

The iRestore is a pain-free, drug-free way to tackle hair loss. It is a lightweight, comfortable and durable device that you can wear at home whilst watching TV or reading.

It’s very simple to operate – you simply place it on your head, press ‘start’ and relax! Once the session is complete, the device will turn itself off.

How to Enter

Please enter below – and don’t forget to take advantage of the BONUS entries for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules of the Contest

  • You must be 18 years or older to take part, and resident in the US.
  • The giveaway/sweepstakes is open now and closes at 12 am on Nov 16th 2016.
  • No purchase is necessary.
  • The prize is one iRestore Hair Growth System which retails at $695.
  • The winner be selected at random on Nov 17th 2016. He/she will be contacted via email within 24 hours and will be announced on this page on Nov 18th 2016.
  • The winner will be asked to provide before/after photographs showing their results with the iRestore Hair Growth System and of them wearing the unit.
  • Facebook giveaways are in NO way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. Information collected is NOT collected by Facebook. In signing up for this promotion, participants release and indemnify Facebook from all liability.
  • The giveaway/sweepstakes prize is donated by Freedom Laser Therapy, Inc., 7815 Beverly Blvd., 3rd Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Good luck!



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PCOS Hair Loss – Tips for Restoring Your Hair

 

Experts suggest that HALF of all women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) go undiagnosed.

Yet this condition can contribute to a range of symptoms, one of the most distressing of which is hair loss.

This page is designed to help you decide if PCOS may be the cause of YOUR hair loss. It also includes lots of advice for how to prevent – or reverse – the damage.


Please note: This information is not to be seen as medical advice. It is very important to contact a medical professional to discuss your hair loss, or before taking any supplements.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a common condition where the ovaries become enlarged and contain many follicular cysts. Estimated to affect around 1 in 10 women of child-bearing age, it is usually diagnosed during the teenage years to early 20s.

What Causes PCOS?

Frustratingly, the exact cause of PCOS is not known.

It is related to the levels of certain hormones in the body, particularly to high levels of insulin. It tends to run in families, and can be passed down by either parent.

It’s quite a vicious circle…

If you have PCOS, then your body is resistant to the action of insulin (which regulates your sugar levels). To compensate for this, your body starts producing even MORE insulin.

This then leads to the production of excess testosterone, an androgen that controls male characteristics. Although testosterone is thought of as a purely male hormone, we women have it too, usually just in smaller amounts.  But if you have PCOS, then your androgen levels are too high.

Resistance to insulin can also cause you to gain weight. Being overweight causes your body to produce more insulin.

And so the vicious circle continues!

Symptoms

One of the most unfair aspects of PCOS has to be that it not only causes hair loss from the scalp, it also causes hair growth, but in places you don’t want it (such as face, breasts and stomach).

Caused by the raised level of androgens in the body, this is called hirsutism.

Other symptoms of PCOS include

  • Irregular periods
  • Problems conceiving – too much testosterone in the body has a negative effect on the follicles of the ovaries, preventing ovulation.
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Very heavy periods
  • Depression (caused by hormonal imbalance, but probably also caused by the other symptoms, which can be tough to cope with!)
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Darkened skin patches around the neck or groin, or in the armpit

Whilst not considered ‘symptoms’, skin tags and dandruff also seem to be common in women with PCOS.

Why Does PCOS Cause Hair Loss?

If there is too much testosterone in your body, then your body converts it to something called dihydrotestosterone (better known as DHT).

DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink, which means that new hairs become finer and finer, and eventually stop growing altogether.

How is PCOS Diagnosed?

There is no specific test for PCOS, which might explain why so many cases go undiagnosed!

If your doctor suspects that you may be affected, he/she may carry out a physical exam to look for signs of the disorder (such as high blood pressure, evidence of excess body hair etc).

Your height/weight ratio may also be checked, to make sure your BMI (body mass index) is healthy.

Further tests may include

  • Blood tests
  • Hormone tests
  • Ultrasound exam

If you feel that your symptoms fit with PCOS but your concerns are not being taken seriously, it’s important to push for a diagnosis.

Many women have contacted me saying that their PCOS went undiagnosed for some time, as their symptoms were being dismissed as related to other conditions, or simply to their age!

If you are going through menopause, however, please do check out this page about the relationship between your estrogen levels and your hair loss.

It’s important, too, that your thyroid levels are checked, because some of the symptoms associated with thyroid problems are the same as those caused by PCOS.

Can PCOS Cause Complications?

Yes. If it’s not treated, PCOS can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

So proper diagnosis – and taking the steps to treat the disorder – are vital.

Treatments for PCOS

There isn’t one standard treatment for PCOS, because it manifests itself in different ways for different people.

Not everyone will experience ALL of the symptoms, so only the symptoms present will need to be treated.

Medications

Many women with PCOS hair loss are prescribed one or more of the following…

Flutamide, finasteride, cyproterone acetate and spironolactone are used to block androgens (male hormones) in order to prevent their effects (such as hair loss and hirsutism).

Another commonly prescribed medication is the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage). 

Metformin helps your body become more sensitive to insulin, so insulin levels drop. As they do so, your testosterone levels fall too, reducing their effects on your body.

Treating the symptoms, but not the problem?

There are two issues with taking medications to treat the symptoms of PCOS.

One, is that certain drugs can cause side effects which – for some women – can be just as troubling as the PCOS itself!

Two, is that the medications are only treating the symptoms, rather than tackling the cause.

Fortunately, there are other approaches that can be useful in tackling PCOS hair loss.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

PCOS hair loss

It seems simplistic to suggest that switching to a healthy diet and lifestyle can help control PCOS.

But the connection is clear – and the fact that rising rates of obesity correlate with rising rates of PCOS shows just what an important role the diet plays.

The cruel irony of PCOS, though, is that it causes you to crave foods high in carbohydrates and fats –

just another part of that vicious circle I referred to earlier!

The best advice, then, is to avoid ‘dieting’ (as in dramatically reducing your food intake), to simply concentrating on making healthier food choices.

And to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, try eating little and often.

To keep yourself feeling full for longer, try eating lots of protein.

You’ll be amazed how well this works – there are even scientific studies to prove that eggs (which are packed with protein) can help you lose weight. The research showed that a breakfast of eggs kept participants feeling full for longer, reducing the amount of food consumed for the rest of the day.

Other high protein foods include

  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken or turkey
  • Nuts
  • Lentils
  • Fish

You can help satisfy your craving for fats by consuming healthy fats.

Good foods to try include

  • Avocado
  • Fatty fish, like sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts

As an additional bonus, foods rich in protein and healthy fats are good for the overall condition and growth of your hair, even when PCOS is not an issue!

| RELATEDThe connection between good nutrition and healthy hair

Another important factor in improving your overall health and controlling your PCOS is exercise. This can take many forms, from a brisk daily walk, to dance, to regular workouts. You may need to try a few different things to find the one you enjoy doing!

A note about exercise…

Back in 2010 I caught pneumonia, and the couple of months inactivity that followed caused me to gain weight. I don’t like the gym, so I decided to give exercise DVDs a try.

It was at this point I discovered Jillian Michaels DVDs, and I never looked back!

It’s not just the exercises that are great (tough, but great!), but it’s her little chats in between, which are both motivating and empowering.

If you’ve never worked out before, start off with her Beginner Shred DVD.

And please do let me know if you saw great results too!

Iron intake

With any type of hair loss, monitoring your iron levels is essential!

Visit this page to read more about the relationship between iron and hair loss, plus tips on increasing your intake.

Other Important Nutrients

Your doctor may not ‘prescribe’ them to you, but certain nutrients seem to be particularly important in controlling PCOS.

An article in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal described how deficiencies in certain nutrients could contribute to the symptoms of PCOS.

These nutrients include

  • Zinc*
  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Essential fatty acids

*Researchers noted decreased hair loss in women with PCOS following zinc supplementation. Read more…

Please see this page for more information about including these nutrients in your diet.

Separate research shows a strong connection between vitamin D intake and PCOS.

You can increase your intake of vitamin D by eating more…

  • Fatty fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms

You can also look for ‘vitamin D fortified’ foods like orange juice and cereal.

It’s also a good idea to get a little sunlight to your skin! Sunlight actually prompts your body to produce its OWN vitamin D. So if you tend to spend a lot of time indoors, a daily walk to expose your skin to the sun (with sunscreen of course) will help give your vitamin D levels a boost, and provide some exercise at the same time!

Normalizing Your Hormone Levels

There are other ways you can try to get your hormone levels under control, without resorting to medication.

Stop smoking.

It is believed that women who smoke have higher levels of male hormones, which cause the symptoms of PCOS.

Avoid alcohol as much as possible.

Try to avoid the influence of environmental elements that can affect hormone levels.

  • Eat organic. Non-organic produce is treated with pesticides and fungicides. Non organic milk and meats often contain high levels of sex or growth hormones. 
  • Eat clean. This means sticking to natural, whole foods. Avoid processed foods wherever possible.
  • Avoid xenoestrogens – chemicals that have similar effects on the body as estrogen, thereby upsetting the hormonal balance. Xenoestrogens can be found in non-organic produce, dairy and meat; plastic water bottles; plastic food wrap; skin care products and Teflon coated cookware.

The key is to keep the foods you consume and the products you use as natural as possible – glass jars, for example, instead of plastic containers. Or natural cleaning products instead of manufactured ones.

This may be a huge lifestyle change, but it’s a rewarding one. And whilst organic meat and produce might be more expensive, the incredible difference in flavor makes it worthwhile!

On the other hand, many skin care items and household cleaning products can be made at home – with natural ingredients – for a fraction of the cost of commercial products!

Keep your stress levels to a minimum.

Yes, this can be easier said than done, but there are some good tips to help you here.

And finally, get plenty of sleep – consistently!

Other Tips…

  • When you’re experiencing PCOS hair loss, it’s more important than ever to take care of your existing hair. Try to avoid harsh chemicals (ie. perms, colors, bleach etc) and products containing sulfates or alcohol). If possible, go a little longer between washes, to allow your natural oils to nourish your hair.
  • Avoid tight hairstyles that put your hair under traction – this can do even more damage!
  • Try a good hair loss shampoo. Whilst these don’t make hair grow, they are kind to existing hair, and nourish the scalp.
  • Consider taking saw palmetto. Many women find this supplement helpful in regrowing hair. Biotin is popular too. Remember, though, to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
    • Try Spearmint tea. Some women report good results with it, and a small, scientific study showed that it can reduce the hirsutism associated with PCOS. This means it should be useful in reducing the associated hair loss, too. You need to be committed, though – it seems that you need around 3 cups a day to see results.

 

  • Consider the supplement NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine).

More about N-Acetyl-Cysteine

Used for a wide range of medical purposes – from cholesterol reduction to treating bronchitis – N-Acetyl-Cysteine is a powerful anti-oxidant. It seems to be safe, is widely available and appears to be helpful in treating PCOS, because it helps regulate the body’s insulin levels.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, one of the drugs often used to treat PCOS is the diabetes drug metformin. By decreasing your body’s insulin levels, the drug thereby causes your androgen levels to drop too, which reduces your hair loss.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine – as this study shows – appears to have the same effect.

Sources and for more information…

NHS Choices – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women’s Health

What is PCOS?

Over to you…

If you have experienced the hair loss associated with PCOS and have any tips, advice or experiences to share, please do contact me and let me know.



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Mesotherapy for Hair Loss – Not as Promising as it Seems!

 

If you Google the term ‘mesotherapy for hair loss’, you’ll come across lots of information from hair loss clinics, singing the praises of this cosmetic treatment. Many promise amazing results at a much more affordable cost than surgical options.

What you WON’T come across, however, is any hard, credible evidence that it actually works!

Mesotherapy for hair loss

On this page I’ll take a closer look at what mesotherapy for hair loss involves, and what the medical profession has to say about it.

Note: this information is given for guidance purposes only. You should always consult a medical professional for advice about hair loss and the types of treatment available.

What is Mesotherapy?

Mesotherapy is the administration of micro-injections to a particular part of the body. Its most common application is for weight loss and cellulite removal, where clients are given injections to problem areas, in order to ‘melt fat’ and to ‘contour the body’.

It is also used to prevent the development of wrinkles, and sometimes to improve the appearance of aging skin.

With mesotherapy for hair loss, these tiny injections are given in the scalp – thus, ‘mesotherapy’ is a general term and not specific to hair loss treatments.

The word itself relates to the layer of skin into which the solution is injected – the ‘mesoderm’, or middle layer of skin.

Given the fact that these micro-injections are superficial – administered only into the skin – mesotherapy is a non-surgical treatment that can be easily carried out in a clinic, with the client able to immediately return to their daily activities.

The ingredients used in the injections vary…

… depending on the overall goal of the treatment (hair restoration, weight loss etc).

There is no ‘standard’ injection for the treatment of any condition. As far as hair loss therapies are concerned, the injections usually contain a ‘cocktail’ of ingredients believed to trigger hair growth. These tend to include a range of vitamins and minerals, plus medications such as minoxidil.

Clinics say that the treatments are tailored to meet the individual needs of clients and that they work by delivering medication to where it’s most needed. They also suggest that the skin perforations created by the micro-injections trigger a process of healing. During this process, they say, the skin produces collagen and elastin, enhancing existing levels.

This type of therapy certainly sounds appealing. 

It’s painless and each session should take less than 30 minutes, with clients free to go about their day immediately following treatment. No dressing to the injection site is needed, and some clinics boast success rates of up to 90%!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, you know what they say about that!

Does Mesotherapy for Hair Loss Actually Work?

There are several points you might want to take into consideration if you’ve been thinking about mesotherapy as a way to tackle your thinning hair.

Although cheaper than some hair loss treatments, it can still be costly. Most salons suggest a minimum of 10 sessions, followed by maintenance every few months.

But – more importantly – there is NO firm evidence to prove that it works. 

Despite extensive research, I have not been able to find any published, reliable studies stating that mesotherapy for hair loss is a viable treatment.

Of course, there are some treatments that hair loss sufferers have found helpful, but which don’t have much support from the medical profession, (biotin springs to mind!).

But such treatments tend to be widely discussed online, particularly in forums where those with hair loss tend to share recommendations.

In the case of mesotherapy for hair loss, however, even this anecdotal evidence is lacking!

More worrying still is this article, published in 2010 in the International Journal of Trichology. The author expresses concern that the therapy has never been adequately researched and that there are no clear guidelines regarding the combination of ingredients given in the injections. He also reveals that the procedure could be harmful.

He describes one report documenting the development of alopecia in 2 patients following mesotherapy for hair loss, and another report of a client developing multiple abscesses after treatment.

The article concludes:

…the current position on the use of mesotherapy in pattern hairloss can be summarized as follows.

  1. Data on its safety and efficacy in pattern hairloss have not been adequately and critically evaluated and documented in proper, peer-reviewed clinical trials.
  2. Data evaluating the rationale and pharmacology of the combination of herbal and allopathic medicines used are not adequate. There are no clear-cut guidelines on the dosage and efficacy of the products.
  3. Further, mesotherapy is not entirely a safe technique as publicized in lay media and can give rise to complications, as stated earlier.

It’s also worth noting that mesotherapy – for any purpose – is not approved by the FDA.

In Conclusion…

Whilst the clinic brochures may offer promising results, there is zero evidence that mesotherapy can help restore thinning hair to its former condition. Furthermore, the procedure may be harmful.

If you are experiencing hair loss, please do visit your doctor to establish the cause and discuss the most appropriate treatment. You may also like to visit our hair loss causes page for further information and suggestions on remedies that others have found helpful.

Do You Have any Experience with Mesotherapy for Hair Loss?

Then please do contact me and let me know your results, good or bad.

Further Information about Mesotherapy

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS)




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