Losing your hair can be a distressing experience, and it's a problem that affects a significant portion of the population. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40% of hair loss sufferers are women, and 80% of men will experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 80. While there are many factors that can contribute to hair loss, including genetics and certain medical conditions, hormones also play a role. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how hormones can affect hair loss and what you can do about it.
One of the hormones that has been extensively studied in relation to hair loss is testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone that is present in both men and women, but it is present at higher levels in men. When testosterone is converted into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) through a process called 5-alpha reductase, it can shrink hair follicles, leading to hair loss. This type of hair loss is called male-pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, and it is the most common type of hair loss in men. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that men with androgenetic alopecia had significantly higher levels of DHT in their scalps compared to men without hair loss.
Estrogen, on the other hand, is a female hormone that is important for maintaining healthy hair growth. When estrogen levels drop, such as during menopause, it can lead to hair loss. This type of hair loss is called female-pattern baldness, and it is characterized by a thinning of the hair on the top of the head. A study published in the journal Menopause found that postmenopausal women with hair loss had significantly lower levels of estrogen compared to women without hair loss.
Another hormone that can affect hair loss is thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism, and an imbalance of these hormones can lead to hair loss. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, can cause hair to become thin and brittle, while hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, can cause hair to fall out more quickly than normal. A study published in the journal Dermatology found that women with thyroid-related hair loss had significantly higher or lower levels of thyroid hormones compared to women without hair loss.
If you are experiencing hair loss and suspect that it may be related to hormones, it is important to see a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis. A dermatologist may recommend blood tests to check your hormone levels and determine the cause of your hair loss. If hormone imbalances are causing your hair loss, a dermatologist may prescribe treatments to help restore your hormone levels to normal.
In addition to medical treatment, there are also some things you can do to help improve the health of your hair and reduce hair loss. These include:
- Getting enough vitamins and protein in your diet
- Avoiding tight hairstyles that can damage your hair
- Using a mild shampoo and conditioner
- Avoiding heat styling tools as much as possible
- Protecting your hair from the sun
By understanding how hormones can affect hair loss and taking steps to address any underlying issues, you can help protect the health of your hair and reduce hair loss.