The symptoms: Lupus often causes extreme fatigue, headaches, oral ulcers, and painful, swollen joints. Many people develop a butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and become more sensitive to the sun. Other symptoms include fever; swelling in the feet and hands and around the eyes; chest pain; and anemia. Many people also experience hair loss, which may be mild and occur while shampooing or brushing your hair—or it may be more severe, coming out in patches and accompanied by a rash on the scalp, says Arthur Weinstein, MD, director of the division of rheumatology at the Washington Hospital Center. Because these symptoms occur in many other conditions, lupus is often called the great imitator.
Your doctor will diagnose the cause of your hair loss based on your medical history, the medications you take, your nutritional status, your hairdressing habits and a physical examination. If your doctor suspects a fungal infection of your scalp, he or she may take a hair sample for laboratory testing. Blood tests probably will be needed if your doctor suspects a medical illness (such as lupus) or a thyroid problem, iron deficiency or sex-hormone imbalance.
The other currently approved drug for hair loss is Propecia (generic name, finasteride). It works only for men. Why? It keeps the male sex hormone testosterone from forming its DHT by-product. DHT signals shorten the growth phase — and lengthen the rest stage — of hormone-sensitive follicles.
Finally, take advantage of the gorgeous hair accessories available for purchase. It’s an affordable way to conceal thinning hair. Try a hairband that covers the scalp, a beautiful scarf or even a hat. It might seem too simple and only a way to mask the problem, but on busy days, it is likely just what you need.
Doctors characterize the severity of hair loss using something called the Savin density scale. This scale has 8 stages and describes hair loss around the midline part as well recession in the front of the hairline. Some women lose hair to various degrees around the midline and/or in the front of the hairline. Some women experience hair thinning all over the scalp. Hair loss may occur in episodes or continuously. The doctor parts the hair down the middle of the head and then determines the severity of hair loss. The most common pattern for female pattern baldness is thinning around the midline that occurs in the shape of a Christmas tree. The pattern and severity of female hair loss helps determine the appropriate course of treatment.
While dermatologists are not exactly sure how it works, Minoxidil seems to improve scalp circulation and extend the “anagen” phase of the hair cycle. As such, it only works while you use it. After three months, the hairs that extended their natural life-cycle will begin to shed. In most men, the medication itself will not cause the hair to shed. (ROGAINE® uses Minoxidil.)
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Thank you for the insightful article. To be clear, you recommend taking the “big 3” together at the same time? Or just choose 1 option from the list of the “big 3”? I just started heavily thinning and am searching everywhere to figure out how to slow it, and your site was the best I’ve found!
Two-thirds of men do get acceptable hair growth — moderate to very good hair growth, Andrew Kaufman, MD, tells WebMD. Kaufman, a hair-transplant surgeon, is assistant professor of clinical dermatology at UCLA, and medical director of the Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
The hormones that we speak about when it comes to hair loss are the group of hormones called androgens. The three types of androgen hormones are testosterone, androstenedione and dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT. All of us have heard of testosterone and probably associate it with the male “macho” hormone. In fact, both men’s and women’s bodies contain all three of these hormones in some amount, and their imbalance can contribute to hair loss in both sexes.
For those who don’t plan on counting their hair every day, there are ways to know when hair is thinning or being lost at a higher rate. Roberts tells WebMD that women will see a difference. When waking up in the morning, there may be an large amount on your pillow. When you comb your hair (especially without tugging, which can pull the hair out), more than normal will be left in the comb.
But do they work? Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist for Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, Calif., spends a lot of time steering patients away from products recommended by their friends and family members. Most of those products are costly and have little to no benefit.
Male and female pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss and is genetic, Dr. Krejci-Manwaring says. It’s a complete myth that it all comes from your mother’s side, so everyone can stop blaming their mother for their hair problems! Hereditary baldness affects up to 80% of men and 50% of women, and is usually caused by many other factors.
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes quality protein, healthy fats, and green leafy vegetables. Wash your hair every third day. Apply olive or coconut oil hair treatment masks before washing it. You can leave the olive oil treatment overnight. Exercise and trim your hair every 6 to 8 weeks to keep it healthy and strong.
If you’re shedding more than normal, don’t freak out. Hair loss among women can happen for a variety of reasons–it can be a natural consequence of childbirth or overusing hair products. Watch the video to learn why your hair might be thinning.
What to do: Once chemotherapy is stopped, your hair will grow back although often it will come back with a different texture (perhaps curly when before it was straight) or a different color. Researchers are working on more targeted drugs to treat cancer, ones that would bypass this and other side effects. In the meantime, Here’s How to Deal With Thinning Hair During Chemo.