Men’s hair loss is such a common problem that preventive measures are advertised all the time.Yet the same can’t be said for women, for whom the problem is much more stigmatized. However, as part of National Hair Loss Awareness Month, a new survey is shining a light on just how widespread the problem is for women.
Conducted on 800 participants by hair-growth treatment brand Keranique and Wakefield Research, the study found that 46 million women may suffer from hair loss across the United States. Nearly 40 percent of women over the age of 18 have noticed thinning hair, and 50 percent over the age of 58 have seen a decrease in strands over time.
Women who have undergone chemical treatments on their hair are 71 percent more likely to see hair fall out, and women who have relatives with hair loss are 97 percent more likely to suffer the same issue themselves. Roughly 78 percent of women have treated their hair in ways that can eventually lead to hair loss, including adding color, using perms or relaxers, getting weaves, or styling with tight braids or extensions.
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The widespread struggle of thinning hair among women is rarely discussed, although public figures have started to come forward with their own experiences in recent years. Rosie O’Donnell tweeted a photo of her “male pattern baldness” back in May, while British MP Nadine Dorries spoke publicly about her personal problems with hair loss in 2013.
According to Kavita Mariwalla, MD, a dermatologist based in West Islip, N.Y., women come to her office every day to talk about hair loss. “It is a lot more prevalent than people realize,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “Part of the reason is marketing: We see a lot of products targeting hair loss in men, but very few for hair loss in women.” She says this is because the patterns of hair loss affect women differently from men, but the problem is still widespread — and disheartening.
Mariwalla says a lot of women will notice thinning hair in their late 40s and early 50s, in addition to times like pregnancy, but it can also happen earlier. “It’s normal to lose about 100 hairs a day, but you know you’re experiencing true hair loss when you wake up and see hairs on your pillow,” she explains.
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So what can you do? First, see your dermatologist or GP for a complete workup, since there are many reasons for hair loss. “We want to make sure you’re not dealing with an intrinsic problem, like an iron deficiency or thyroid problem,” Mariwalla says.
After running tests, Mariwalla says she prescribes a specific regimen for women dealing with hair loss. “First, I tell women to make sure they’re getting 20 grams of protein per day,” she explains. “Especially as women get older, or if they’re busy, often they’re not having three full meals a day. It is easier than you think to not get that protein.” If you’re low, Mariwalla advises adding Greek yogurt, nuts, and lean meat to your diet at each meal.
Second, you can amp up your vitamin intake. Mariwalla says she recommends 5,000 micrograms of biotin, in addition to prenatal vitamins with key nutrients like folic acid. She also likes VitaCraves Gummies for their nutritional beneifts and because they are not constipating.
Mariwalla says you will be “surprised how much” these simple changes help your mane remain healthy. But definitely talk to your doctor for more treatment options if you’re still not seeing the long, strong hair you’d like.