Popular questions about female hair loss

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About 10% of our clients at Crown Clinic are female patients. This is because hair loss in women is far more common than many people think.

We have also pioneered new treatments at Crown Clinic which are predominantly used by women such as eyebrow and eyelash transplants. 

Here our surgeon Asim Shahmalak answers some of the most popular questions we get about female hair loss.

1. 50% of women experience hair loss by the time they reach 40,
according to a recent survey – is the number of women losing their
hair increasing? And if so what are the triggers of this in modern
society?

Yes the number of women losing their hair is increasing for a number of reasons.
* Stress – this can cause a hormonal imbalance in women which can lead
to hair loss.
*  Modern hair techniques: extensions, beads, hair straighteners,
weaves, bleaching, dying – all this can damage the hair and lead to
hair loss and conditions such as traction alopecia. Naomi Campbell
suffers from traction alopecia, as you can see from recent pictures
showing substantial hair loss at the front of her scalp. This is
almost certainly due to her over-reliance on hair extensions and
weaves for most of her modelling life. She has worn straight
extensions over her normal curly hair for a number of years. Traction
alopecia occurs when the extensions pull on the natural hair causing
it to break, and usually affects the hairline just above the forehead
or the sides, where the hair is weaker. It can take between three
months to a year for hair to grow back in moderate cases. But if the
pulling continues the hair will never grow back and the only option is
a hair transplant.
*  Surgery, illness and medication – the body shuts down the
production of non-essential products, including hair, so that it can
concentrate its resources where they are most needed.
* Medical conditions such as low blood count, hormonal changes,
pregnancy and thyroid problems can also affect hair growth and lead to
hair loss. Usually in these cases the hair loss is temporary and it
will grow back.
* There is also great awareness of hair loss in women. Women are far
more likely to admit they have a problem and seek remedies. That has
to be a good thing.

2. Stress can trigger hair loss – how can women avoid the
cycle of suffering from stress, losing their hair because of this and
then suffering further stress as a result?

Stress is a big trigger for hair loss. Of course, women can take
measure to avoid stress. This involves living more healthily:
achieving a good work-life balance and eating and exercising well. I
cannot stress enough the importance of exercise. Stress releases
endorphins into the system that are responsible for the feeling of
elation.

3. What lifestyle changes can women make to prevent hair loss? Is it
genetic or lifestyle induced problem?

Hair loss can also be lifestyle induced. It is important to live
healthily to maintain a good head of hair in both sexes.
When you don't eat enough food or avoid the necessary vitamins, your
hair will lose the nutrients that make it strong and beautiful. Make
sure your diet is rich in vitamins like iron and zinc.
There is a powerful genetic link to hair loss – put simply, if your
mother or grandmother has thin hair or suffers hair loss, there is a
good chance you will too as a woman. This is called Androgenetic
Alopecia, or hereditary pattern hair loss, and affects around 20% of
women – most obviously through thinning over the central scalp.
Basically women can inherit sensitivity to the effects of male
hormones (androgens) on the scalp and hair follicles causing thinning
of the hair in the same way that it does with men. But women rarely
develop a receding hairline. Androgenetic Alopecia is most commonly
seen in women after the menopause but can occur in younger women and
has even been know to begin in puberty.

4. Do shampoos and lotions work to halt hair loss or encourage growth?

Very rarely – be very wary of any shampoo or lotion that says as much.
There are medications which can halt further loss. Finasteride (also
called Propecia) , most commonly prescribed to men, can be effective
in halting hair loss in post-menapausal women. Another drug which be
beneficial for 15% of female users is Minoxidl – it is also available
in a lotion. It is not available on the NHS and can only be obtained
privately.
Toppik is another product which can help with hair loss. It eliminates
the appearance of hair loss and thinning and is very popular with
women. Its natural Keratin fibres intertwine with your existing hair
to make it look thick and full.
But the only permanent solution the problem of long-term hair loss is
a hair transplant. Increasing numbers of women are taking this route
after realising the long-term damage hair extensions can cause.
Growing numbers of my patients are women.

5. Hair loss in women is quite a taboo subject, and obviously very
upsetting. How important is it for women to know they're not alone and
this is a common and treatable condition?

It is very important that women suffering hair loss realise this is a
common and treatable condition and that they are not alone. Hair loss
can have dismaying or even devastating influence on a woman's quality
of life, not least because hair loss is often wrongly considered a
less significant psychological and emotional problem for women than it
is for men. Too often, a woman's hair loss is not taken seriously by
family or friends or even by a woman's doctor.

6. What are the psychological impacts of hair loss?

Men can up their hair loss by shaving their head – that option isn't
really available to women.
While hair loss itself can present psychological and emotional
problems for a woman, failure of others to recognise the seriousness
of these problems may contribute additionally to psychological and
emotional effects that can range from decreased self-esteem to anxiety
and depression.

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Expert hair transplant surgery by Dr Shahmalak

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When the sun comes out, we know that we need to apply sunscreen to protect our skin, but many people forget to pay the same care to protecting their hair. Between the sun, sea and swimming pools, many of our favourite summer activities can significantly damage our hair – so the next time you go out to enjoy the sunshine, find out what you can do to protect it.

 

Why does sun damage the hair?

 

Sun damage to the hair is caused by the harmful UVA and UVB rays, which damage the outermost layer of the layer – the cuticle – and weaken the protein structure of the hair, making it dry, brittle and more prone to breaking. Some people find that their hair lightens in the sun, as the rays act in a similar fashion to bleach, stripping the melanin from the hair.

 

Protecting your hair from the sun

 

Wearing a hat is an easy way to protect your hair and scalp from the sun, especially if you’re outside when the sun is at its strongest. Hair SPF is also an option, which can usually be bought as a spray to be misted over the hair. Pay extra attention to the scalp – many people forget that the scalp can burn just as easily as the rest of the skin, ending up with an itchy, flaky, burnt scalp. If you do burn your scalp, rinse your hair in cool water and apply aloe vera to the affected areas, and make sure to keep your head covered when going outdoors.

If your hair is looking dry, try a deep conditioning treatment to restore some of the lost moisture to the hair, and avoid wearing your hair in any tight styles that may pull on the scalp. Summer is also a good time to temporarily stop using hairdryers, straighteners and any other hot tools to avoid adding to the sun damage.

 

Protecting your hair from the sea

 

Salt water is notorious for drying out the hair. It leaches moisture out of it, making it incredibly brittle and tangled, which can cause significant breakage. Before you go swimming, saturate your hair with clean water to prevent it from absorbing as much salt water, and don’t let it sit in your hair – rinse it thoroughly as soon as you get out of the sea. Deep conditioners and hair masks will also help replenish the moisture.

 

Protecting your hair in a swimming pool

 

Just like salt water, chlorinated water is very harsh and drying on the hair, so you can take similar precautions to swim in the sea. You could also try a swimming cap, as this not only prevents the chlorine from damaging your hair, but it will also protect your scalp from sunburn. If you have highlighted or blonde hair, be especially careful when in a swimming pool, as the copper and chlorine in the water have been known to form a film that sticks to the proteins in hair, turning it a green shade. Thankfully, this isn’t permanent, but make sure to enter the pool with wet hair and rinse it as soon as you get out.

However you are spending your summer, if you have any questions or queries about your hair, take a look at our hair advice or give our team a call.

Over the past few months, there have been a significant number of reports in the news of people experiencing hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19. As a result, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed hair loss as a possible long-term effect of the illness, along with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and joint pain. 

A study published by the medical journal The Lancet reported that 22% of the patients it had observed suffered from some degree of hair loss six months after falling ill, with women being more affected than men. 

 

Why does COVID-19 cause hair loss? 

 

Although there are several studies linking coronavirus and hair loss, many of the reports we hear about are anecdotal – at the moment, it’s too soon for scientists to officially establish a link between the two. 

However, the type of hair loss that COVID-19 sufferers are reporting seems to be consistent with telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium occurs when more hairs than usual suddenly enter the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle at once, causing a more noticeable amount of hair to shed at once. It’s normal to lose up to 150 hairs per day, but if you spot that you’re losing much more than that – such as clumps coming out when you’re brushing or washing your hair – it could be telogen effluvium. 

Due to the length of the hair cycle, telogen effluvium typically occurs two or three months after a period of significant stress, which can include illnesses such as COVID-19. When undergoing stressful situations, the body puts all its resources into maintaining essential functions only – which, unsurprisingly, does not include hair growth. As a result, you end up with hair loss. 

However, several other conditions can cause hair loss – such as thyroid issues or nutritional deficiencies – so if you are concerned, visit your GP, who can rule out other underlying causes with a simple blood test. 

 

Will my hair grow back after having COVID? 

 

If the hair loss is the result of telogen effluvium, most people will find that the hair will eventually grow back without the need for treatment. Typically, once the trigger or stressor is removed, the hair will grow back on its own. 

If you notice that the hair loss is persisting, there are a number of medical, cosmetic and hair transplant treatments available to help – Crown Clinic offers a range of options to support those struggling with hair loss, so don’t hesitate to get in touch

When performed by a qualified, experienced hair transplant surgeon, hair transplants are a very safe procedure. Hair restoration is a minimally invasive treatment that allows patients to return home the same day, with the procedure only requiring local anaesthetic. 

However, if you undergo a hair transplant abroad – such as in Turkey – the risk attached is much higher. 

 

Risks of hair transplants in Turkey 

 

It’s no secret that undergoing hair transplant surgery in countries such as Turkey is a gamble. Every year, countless patients are reeled in by the low prices and package deals offered by overseas clinics. Many of the clinics boast ‘five-star’ ratings and an active social media presence, duping unsuspecting patients into thinking they are visiting a reputable clinic. Although, when you dig a little deeper, you may discover the reviews are faked and the ‘after’ pictures are heavily edited or taken from other clinics. 

Another trick that patients fall for is believing that a surgeon will be carrying out the procedure, as many of the clinics advertise that a surgeon leads them to convince patients that they are legitimate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean a surgeon will be carrying out the hair transplant itself. In fact, many clinics hire under-qualified technicians with little training to keep the costs down, only seeking the supervision of a surgeon if the procedure goes wrong. 

Over the years, Crown Clinic has fixed countless botched hair transplants, mainly from overseas clinics. The most common problems that we see are unnatural-looking hairlines and unsightly scarring as the result of the surgery being carried out by unlicensed practitioners. Other risks are infections, as sanitation is often extremely poor at the clinics and damage to the scalp due to the result of the incorrect tools being used to carry out the surgery. 

 

Are there any side effects to having a hair transplant? 

 

If you choose to have a hair transplant in the UK with a reputable surgeon, side effects will be minimal. The hygiene standards will be incredibly high, meaning the risk of infection is negligible, and you will be given clear instructions on how to take care of your scalp after the procedure. Crown Clinic has an excellent aftercare service, offering a day-by-day guide to ensure optimum healing and results.  

Unlike at overseas clinics, where it can be impossible to follow up after the procedure to discuss any concerns related to your hair transplant, Crown Clinic is more than happy to answer any questions you may have during this phase.