Hair Loss: Yes, it Impacts Women Too!
I have always had thick, healthy hair, sometimes long, sometimes short and with thick hair came a lot of “shedding.” Although I lost what seemed like a lot of hair, I never noticed a change in thickness or any thinning spots.
Until one day, in the shower washing my hair, I lost way more than normal. Detangling my hair after my shower it continued, I thought I might go bald that very day.
Even though that did not happen (and may have been a slightly dramatic reaction), I did continue having abnormal amounts of hair loss for over 3 months and quickly noticed a difference in the thickness of my ponytail.
So, have you ever wondered if you are experiencing too much hair loss?
Statistically almost 50% of women do at one time in their lives. Or maybe you have experienced thinning of your hair? Well, in this blog I’m going to talk about all things hair loss, including what you can do to “regrow” your hair.
Let’s get started…
What is normal and abnormal hair loss anyway?
It is actually normal to lose approximately 50-100 strands of hair each day and this is often balanced with “new” hair growing in. Abnormal or too much hair loss is considered losing greater than 125 hairs per day.
But who is really counting the hairs they lose?
Not me, but I was still able to notice that I was losing way more than normal. If you notice more hairs on the shower floor, in your hair brush or comb or even that you are finding more around your house than normal, you may be experiencing abnormal hair loss.
Other signs may be a widening part or bald spots.
In the end any time you think your hair loss is abnormal or there is a distinct change, you may want to consider the underlying root causes.
How can I prevent hair loss everyday?
There are 3 things we can do (or be aware of) on a daily basis that can prevent stress to our hair and scalp. They are:
1. Decrease heat exposure – heat exposure may include blow drying or heat from styling tools, or even spending lots of time outside on a very hot day. Now, eliminating potential damage from heat exposure is not realistic, but maybe you can blow dry on a cooler setting, use your straightener on a cooler setting or protect your hair with a hat when out in the sun for long periods of time.
2. Limit chlorine damage – so there is often chlorine in the water we shower in if we live in a city or town, installing a whole house water filtration system is costly, but consider how often you are washing your hair and other ways you may be exposing your hair to chlorine such as swimming in a public swimming pool.
3. Be aware of how much you are pulling your hair – I have had long hair for about 3 years and I have to admit sometimes it just gets in the way. If you’re like me you may find yourself putting your hair in a tight ponytail or braid more often than not. Those tight ponytails or braids can actually put extra stress on the hair follicle and cause hair to fall out or break. I have found that using 2 twists of my ponytail holder instead of 3 results in a looser ponytail and for the most part still keeps my hair out of the way.
So, why am I losing so much hair?
Abnormal hair loss can be caused by one (or a combination) of the following things…
STRESS: Stress can impact our bodies in so many negative ways, consider our innate fight or flight response when our body is doing everything it can to survive – healthy hair is not so important if our lives are at risk due to being chased by a bear. But many of us experience stress on a regular basis.
Whether it is stress from work, deadlines, feeling like you never have enough time, traffic, too many commitments or stress from things we don’t often consider like a really difficult cardio or weight training workout, stress from gut imbalances, the stress on our body when battling a cold or other illness. Any time we are experiencing multiple stresses for a prolonged period of time our body has to constantly prioritize where our energy should go, which can result in certain things not being prioritized including healthy hair.
HORMONE IMBALANCES: Whether it is due to aging, recent childbirth, medications, or any other reason, hormone imbalances can impact the health of our hair. I have heard of many women experiencing hair loss and thinning during pregnancy or after child birth. These types of “temporary” changes to our hormones can result in hair loss that usually resolves on its own once our bodies rebalance.
However, prolonged hormone imbalances such as due to aging, menopause, hypothyroidism, other hormonal disorders or medications could impact hair health longer term. In women hair loss can happen because of imbalanced estrogen, low thyroid hormones, imbalanced testosterone or even imbalances due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES: Our body needs three macro and many micro nutrients to function optimally. Your typical diet may not include all the nutrients we need for optimal health. Whether it is due to eating increased amounts of processed foods, dieting or maintaining a very low calorie diet for a prolonged period of time or because of likes or dislikes of certain types of food – we may not eat what our hair needs to thrive. If our body doesn’t have the basic building blocks for our hair it cannot support our normal hair growth and regeneration.
INFLAMMATION: Anytime we have inflammation in our bodies whether from an injury, illness or infection our bodies resources are redirected to “fix” the inflammation. Inflammation can be an underlying issue in many diseases and disorders but it often is a “whole body” issue. For example, if you have a sore knee due to a strain or sprain you will feel the inflammation and sometimes see it in the area of the joint but the inflammatory process and the healing process is impacting several other processes in the body. This again causes the body to prioritize resources.
Ok, now what can I do about it?
The biggest thing you can do is figure out what the underlying root cause is and work towards rebalancing it.
This may take a lot of reflection – what has changed in your life that could possibly have impacted your body – has there been a traumatic or stressful event?
It may also take help – lab testing and actually looking at hormone balance may be useful – it is often helpful to evaluate your hormone levels.
Likely it will involve a change to some lifestyle factors:
- Stress management with yoga, meditation, journaling, focusing on self care may be helpful.
- Consider nutrition – are you getting enough protein and amino acids, are you eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, are you eating too much processed foods, have you eliminated a macronutrient category (carb, protein or fat) or a group of foods that will cause you to miss out on specific micronutrients? Also consider nutrients that are difficult to get with even the most healthy diet like vitamin D (especially during Canadian winters), selenium (found in Brazil nuts).
- Are there changes you can make to improve your hormone balance?
- Is inflammation a contributing factor and how can you decrease the inflammation in your body?
Other things you can do…
There are several other things you can do to assist with hair loss and encourage hair regrowth, although focusing on the root cause will likely get you a longer term solution, these things can be considered as well:
LASER THERAPY – there are actually laser caps that you can purchase to use at home which will encourage hair growth
HEAD MASSAGE – massaging your head either when washing your hair in the shower or at other times can improve blood flow to the scalp which can encourage hair growth
ALOE VERA – when applied to the scalp has been shown to improve microcirculation which like head massage can encourage hair growth
HEMP OIL – in preliminary studies has been shown to improve scalp health
LAVENDER OIL – has also been shown in preliminary studies to stimulate hair growth
TAKING COOLER SHOWERS – in addition to all the other benefits of cooler showers, they can also decrease the amount of heat damage to your hair, allowing your hair to thrive and grow
There are also several supplements that can help with hair loss, these include:
As I continue to work through my experience with hair loss, I have found stress to be a huge contributing factor. Stress management and optimizing diet have been the two places I have been focusing.
I have also started adding certain supplements to both help with the hair loss itself and the stress. I have been adding supplements and self care practices gradually to avoid becoming overwhelmed with change.
So, there it is, hair loss impacts women too and the causes are varied. But although causes vary there are many things we can do to both prevent and treat hair loss.
If you’re unsure where to start, reach out, work with a health coach or other trusted healthcare professional. Access The Holistic RN & Co’s resources on stress, nutrition and supplementation.
Start to consider what the root cause of your hair loss might be and take one step (no matter how small) to try and rebalance your body.
Take care everyone and keep your hair healthy!
Holly Killeen, RN
I am a registered nurse, educator of nursing students and aspiring holistic health coach.
I have worked in the healthcare and post secondary education system for over 15 years and have come to realize that there was something missing in these areas for me… a true focus on health and wellness of the individual.
As I learn more about holistic health and focus on my own health and wellness, I aim to share this knowledge and empower others to start or continue their own health and wellness journeys.
I am also a lover of dogs, nature, exercise and food and believe all these things can have a positive impact on our health.