Getting to the root of the matter…
The Straight Facts About Hereditary Thinning Hair in Women
If you’ve got thinning hair, you’re not alone. Almost 30 million American women, or one in four, experience hair thinning that can be linked to heredity. Unfortunately, despite the medical advances made in understanding and treating hereditary hair thinning, many women are still misinformed about thinning hair and what they can do about it.
Thinning Hair is Aging Hair
Almost inevitably, as you age, your hair becomes thinner.
At age 20, your hair is at its thickest. As you pass 20, your hair gradually begins to thin, shedding more than the normal 75 to 150 hairs a day. Sometimes women believe their hair is getting finer when it is actually getting thinner, or they believe that their situation is temporary. In fact, research shows that almost 40% of women with hair thinning never expected it to happen. But thinning hair is a natural part of aging and is surprisingly common, even among healthy women. ‘ Thinning’ hair often means different things to different women—how can you tell the difference between fine hair and thinning hair?
Untangling “Texture:” Hair Shaft Diameter vs. Density
What does it mean to have fine, thin, or thick hair? It’s all in the texture.
Hair texture is a combination of the size of each strand (fine, medium or coarse), and your hair density—the overall amount of hairs on your head (thin, normal or thick).
Fine Hair has the smallest diameter per strand, about 50 microns. Fine hair tends to be more fragile because of its narrower size and is more prone to breakage and thinning.
Medium Hair measures between 60-90 microns – this is the average.
Coarse Hair has the greatest diameter, 100+ microns, and is relatively strong.
Thin Hair means you have less than the average amount of individual hairs on your scalp (approximately 90,000). A reduced density can mean less coverage.
Normal Hair refers to the average number of hairs on the scalp (100,000 hairs is an average density).
Thick Hair means that you have more than the average amount of hairs on your head (up to 150,000).
The human body contains approximately five million hair follicles while the scalp (prior to any kind of hair loss) contains 100,000-150,000 hair follicles. Blondes have the greatest number of scalp follicles, followed by brunettes. Humans with red hair have the fewest number of scalp follicles. The normal growth rate of scalp hair is one-fourth to one-half inch per month.
What’s your hair type? How much thinning do you have?
Strand diameter and hair density can sometimes been difficult to determine on your own, so if you’re unsure, you need an evaluation by hair restoration physician. At the Bauman Medical Group, we can measure the diameter and density of hair on your scalp using a new, high-powered magnification device (like the “CapilliCARE®”). Dr. Bauman is the first M.D. in the United States to use the CapilliCARE® for hair loss diagnosis and treatment. [insert Capillicare photo here] Evaluation of your scalp with the CapilliCARE® microscope is part of Dr. Bauman’s private, complimentary consultations.
[Quick Thinning Hair Self-Diagnosis] THICK OR THIN: Place your thumb and forefinger around your ponytail (if your hair is long enough). Close your fingers until they are firmly holding the hair. If your fingers form a dime-size circle or smaller, your hair is thin; if your fingers form a quarter-size circle or larger, your hair is thick.
Fine, Thin Hair Forecasts the Future
Fine hair can be both a predictor as well as a consequence of hair thinning. It has been noted that women who are experiencing hair loss tend to have a disproportionately high amount of fine hair before they start losing hair, as well as once hair loss begins. In fact, the chance of experiencing hair loss is almost twice as high for women with fine hair as for women with coarse hair.
Stages of Female Pattern Hair Loss
Women typically experience a somewhat different hair loss pattern than their male counterparts. Recent evidence has begun to shed light on the fact that ‘female pattern hair loss’ is indeed a different inherited disease entity than male pattern hair loss. One recent paper, shows that the distribution and expression within families does not match that of male pattern hair loss, further supporting the theory that the two are separate genetic entities. Hair loss in women can begin anytime after the teenage years, but usually becomes more evident after the birth of a child, during menopause or after a total hysterectomy. Typically, the pattern of loss follows one of two categories.
In some cases, diffuse hair loss is evident all over the scalp causing a decrease in hair densities throughout. In the other pattern, we typically see the hairline maintained or just a slight recession, with more significant thinning starting just behind the hairline that extends to the crown. In most cases, women’s hair loss does not eventuate in total baldness of the affected area. Ludwig developed a female pattern classification of hair loss that describes the severity of the thinning at the top of the scalp.