Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5. 88, Tuesday, October 20, 2009















Hair today, gone tomorrow

A long mane has always been an important aspect of feminine beauty in South East Asia. So when a woman realises that she is losing hair, she is bound to panic. And balding, usually associated with men, is fast becoming a concern for women too.

Hair is lost at a slower rate among women than in men, it also occurs later in life. But age does not make it any less traumatic for a woman, especially if she has had lustrous hair before.

When and why it starts
The crux of the hair loss problem lies with our hormones. Women have the male hormone androgen (which is responsible for hair growth all over the body) and the female hormone oestrogen. Ironically, androgen, causes the destruction of hair follicles in the vortex region. Fortunately, oestrogen counteracts and keeps a check on the negative action of androgen.

However, during periods, a drop in the oestrogen level allows the androgen to destroy hair follicles. For example, before menopause, because the body is still producing oestrogen, women suffer less hair loss. However, post menopause, as there is no further hormone production, hair begins to thin out. Stress, a hysterectomy, or childbirth are the other reasons for hair loss.

Abnormally high levels of male hormones can also lead to hair loss in women. Symptoms of Female Pattern Baldness (FPB) caused by high androgen levels are excessive oiliness of the scalp and face, a tender and painful scalp, and hair growth on the face and body.

How fast does the hair thin?
The overall rate of loss varies between people. It is even possible to have some spontaneous, but temporary hair re-growth. While some women might take 25 years to reach significant baldness, others might take just five years.
Moreover, hormone production varies with the season.

Natural treatments are always the best, as hormone-replacement therapy, sometimes touted as an option, generally has side effects. Dong Quai Complex, made from a plant called Dong Quai and the Chaste Tree (which have natural oestrogen), have had great results in cases of hair loss due to a low level of the hormone. High androgen levels can be treated by Seranoa Complex (composed of Saw Palmetto fruit and a stem called Horsetail).

However, before you take medication, it very important to consult a trichologist and diagnose your problem accurately. So, the next time you look in the mirror and find your hair thinning fast, don't hide behind a scarf or be embarrassed.



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