Articles > Hair > Do You Know the First Sign of Women’s Hair Loss?
Last updated: October 16, 2017

Do You Know the First Sign of Women’s Hair Loss?

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Tips and Insights From Dr. Doris Day, Top NY Dermatologist


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Dr. Doris Day is one of the country’s leading dermatologists, with a busy practice in New York City and a position as a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. As a hairstylist, you and Dr. Day actually have a lot in common. You both see women all day long who are distraught over the fact that they are losing their hair—and they’re turning to you for help! “It’s a very important issue,” says Dr. Day. “It’s a problem that’s all too common for women.  They’re embarrassed and often come in feeling very upset. So I’m very passionate about this subject.” 


Because your thinning hair client’s search for answers often starts in your chair, it’s important to educate yourself on the matter, so that you can offer as much information and guidance as possible. Here are some important insights and tips from Dr. Day that will help you help your clients find the best solutions for their thinning hair issues.


Q: What do you typically look for as signs of women’s hair loss in your patients?
Dr. Day: There are three basic types of hair loss that I most commonly see in women. The first is called alopecia areata, and it’s characterized by discreet round patches of hair loss—which are often noticed only by hair stylists when they are on the back scalp (women will see it themselves if it’s on the top or side). Women may not see the patches, but a stylist would.  We don’t know what causes it, and it can happen on any hair-bearing area of the body—arms, legs, etc.


The second type I commonly see is called Telogen effluvium and this is a stress shedding. It occurs diffusely over the entire scalp and usually starts about 3-4 months after a major stress such as childbirth, surgery, divorce, death in the family…
Then there is hereditary hair loss—you will notice that the client’s part is a little wider, the hair is not what it was. By the time it’s noticed, the client may have shed about 30 percent of her hair.


Q: Does hereditary hair loss occur in specific areas or is it an overall thinning?
Dr. Day:
It can be patterned or non-patterned.  Patterned is more common, and in females—unlike in men whose hairlines recede—it tends to occur behind the front hairline. The part seems wider; the space between the hair seems more distant. And it looks worse as the hair grays. Even without a hereditary hair loss situation, I often see thinning at the temples in women over 50.


Q:  What causes hair loss?
Dr. Day:
There are scarring forms of hair loss that can be caused by serious conditions like lupus or traction alopecia, in which the hair follicles are lost due to things like over-braiding extensions. If these conditions are severe, the follicle gets scarred and the hair won’t come back. There’s also a condition called stress shedding or telogen effluvium. It can be triggered by hormonal changes after pregnancy, divorce, a death in the family or other major stressors such as crash dieting and certain medications. It results in a shift in the normal cycle of hair growth, and it takes three to four months to manifest. So one of the first things I’ll ask a patient who is losing her hair is if something traumatic happened three to four months ago. Heredity hair loss, which is most common, is in the genes, plain and simple. There’s no way to know where it will turn up in the family.


Q: Will hair grow back if it’s caused by stress?
Dr. Day:
Yes, this condition is a hair shedding rather than a true hair loss, and hair will typically grow back on its own within three to four months. But, if a patient has a propensity for stress shedding, it can sometimes accelerate hereditary hair loss.


Q: Are there dietary and/or lifestyle solutions that you can recommend?
Dr. Day:
It’s always important to manage lifestyle—eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, manage stress. I believe that an overall healthy, high antioxidant diet is good for every organ, including hair. I’m all about healthy fats and lean proteins and as few carbohydrates as possible. 


Q: What about restoring hair lost due to alopecia areata?
Dr. Day:
If it doesn’t grow back on its own, a dermatologist can inject the sites with a diluted concentration of cortisone, which turns off the immune response and gives the hair a chance of growing back.


Q:  What else can women do to help treat hereditary hair loss?
Dr. Day:
There are some fish protein based supplements—I’ve seen good data on these types of products. Hair growth lasers can work, but they’re often expensive. Transplants are fine if the patient can afford them, but she still has to keep the rest of her hair. There are prescriptions like Propecia that work for men, but they don’t work as reliably for women and there are side effects. I always recommend Women’s ROGAINE® because it works. The brand actually just launched Women’s ROGAINE® 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol, the first, FDA-approved, once-daily use hair regrowth treatment exclusively for women, and the clinical data is very strong. In tests on 700 women, 81 percent regrew hair and the hair was 48 percent thicker than when they sta
rted using it. 


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Q:  How is Women’s ROGAINE® used?
Dr. Day:
Women’s ROGAINE® 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol can be applied to the scalp on towel-dried hair in the morning or dry hair at night—just once a day. Just pump a half of a capful into the cap, or put it on a tray and apply it to the scalp, massaging with your fingers. It’s heat-activated so it sinks into the scalp without messing up the hair. Your client can use all of her favorite styling products and thermal tools. She can apply it after her shower, later in the day or before bed. 


Q:  What results have you observed with Women’s ROGAINE®?
Dr. Day:
 It really works. There might be a little itchiness initially, but it goes away. The user may also notice shedding in the first month, but that means the hair in the follicles is pushing through. It takes three months to see results, and then it keeps working as long as you continue using it. It’s an easy addition to your beauty routine.


Q: Any other tips for stylists when discussing hair loss with their clients?
Dr. Day:
Sometimes it helps to change your hairstyle. Switch the part because the hair will start to flatten. Add highlights, have fun with products and make sure you choose the right hair brush for your hair. There are also great root boosters and volumizers that can help hair appear fuller while Women’s ROGAINE®  is working its magic. It will be okay!


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