Poor hair health is a common lament experienced by women in peri and post menopause, so thanks to Dr Ingrid Wilson, Over The Bloody Moon’s Hair Health Advisor and founder of Crewe Skin and Hair Clinic for sharing her knowledge with us.
Why do we lose hair or experiencing thinning hair during perimenopause?
o We experience age related changes in hair that are nothing to do with the menopause
o The thickness of hair peaks at around 27 years and then decreases from the mid 30s onwards
o The diameter of each hair increases up to age 30 and then declines from the mid 30s onwards
o External factors such as those induced by oxygen free radicals generated by ultraviolet radiation, air pollution and smoking lead to an increase in the porousness of hair, weak hair and hair with a rough surface
o The production of sebum decreases in the post-menopausal period which may affect the quality and texture of the hair
o Hair loss is thought to affect at least 50% of women, by age 50
o The hair follicle is sensitive to changes in hormones which change at the time of menopause – a decline of oestrogen can make androgens more dominant which influences local metabolism
o The associated changes are decreased rate of hair growth, decreased percentage of hairs in the growth phase, reduction in the diameters of hairs (why hair may feel limper or thinner) and the distribution of hairs on the scalp (why partings widen)
o The most common hair loss condition noticed around the time of the menopause is female pattern hair loss
What ways can I support my hair?
Nutrition: Overall it is always best to have a healthy balanced diet with plenty of protein, low GI carbs, plenty of fruit, vegetables and foods with a good iron intake such as organ & red meats, turkey, legumes, pumpkin seeds, raisins, spinach, shellfish and quinoa. For more information listen to Dr Ingrid Wilson chat on the podcast The Doctors Kitchen
Supplements: There is little clinical evidence on the use of supplements for hair thinning in women going through the menopausal transition. For example, Biotin which is on trend currently has little effect other than those who are biotin deficient which is extremely rare. In fact, if people have too much biotin it can interfere with blood tests and give false readings for thyroid or cardio-vascular health so always consult with a GP rather than self-administering.
Minoxidil: is used to treat female pattern hair loss, the most common problem found in women around the menopause – known as Regaine which can be purchased from most pharmacies. However, the response to this is variable.
Low Level Laser Light Therapy: there is some evidence to show that this treatment can be an effective way of stimulating hair follicle growth. Hairmax and Theradrome are two such devices that are designed for home use.
When should I see a specialist?
If you are losing hair or notice a significant change in condition, it's time to book an appointment with your doctor. It’s really important to understand the factors contributing to hair loss, particularly if there is an underlying disease process or deficiencies in vitamins or nutrients.
GP is your first point of call: it might be that further investigations through the GP are necessary to conduct blood tests or a referral.
Dermatologists: seen as the medically approved option but make sure you are referred to one that specialises in hair, rather than skin.
Trichologists are an alternative option for those that want more consultative time and a holistic approach to improving hair health. But be warned, this is not a regulated profession and unlike Dr Ingrid Wilson, the majority of trichologists do not have a medical background and the quality of advice and service may vary.
What treatments might they offer me?
The root cause: Some dermatologists will offer a scalp biopsy and trichologist such as Dr Ingrid Wilson can provide imaging of the hair and scalp through a test called TrichoLab to get a really accurate assessment of the hair counts and likely underlying disease process.
Individualised care: There’s also a personalised test as TrichoTest to give an idea of how likely you are to respond to medications for a particular type of hair loss. It saves you wasting time with treatments that are not likely to work.
Hair Transplants: note these are not suitable for some hair loss conditions, resulting in temporary improvement and in some cases, this procedure can actually accelerate hair loss. Do bear in mind that there is no formal training pathway in the UK for hair transplant surgeons meaning it’s not regulated!
Find out more
Dr Ingrid Wilson is owner of Crewe Hair & Skin Clinic which offers a truly holistic approach to non-surgical hair restoration with bespoke, ethical advice based on her continued education in Trichology and experience of UK General Practice. She is offering 10% discount off Hairmax laser devices by using the code: Crewe1 and £25 off Theradrome by using the code: CREW1 at the check out (terms and conditions apply)