Can I fix my hair?
September 9, 2011 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything I can do about my hair loss?

I am a female in my mid 40's, and for the last year or so I have been rapidly losing my hair. I am surprised at how ashamed and ugly this makes me feel, especially since I have always been just average looking, and I didn't think I was vain. I am having a hard time taking this in stride.

Is there anything I can do to stop or reverse this? Everything on the Internet looks sketchy as hell. I tried Rogaine, and felt like it did nothing, but I also felt like I was doing it wrong, or something. I've asked my doctor, who just shrugged and looked bored.
posted by Malla to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Consult a dermatologist, not your GP, and be sure to discuss it with your gynecologist as well.
posted by argonauta at 3:41 PM on September 9, 2011

Have you talked to your gynecologist about this? It could be Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which causes hair loss, fertility problems, weight gain around the midsection, hair growth on the face, and other issues. Treatment for PCOS might stop the hair loss, but it won't reverse it; my sister uses Rogaine to treat her hair loss from PCOS.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:49 PM on September 9, 2011

Find a new and sympathetic doctor, hair loss can be associated with many different medical issues.
posted by biscotti at 3:49 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your doctor can go to hell. Find someone who doesn't treat you that way ... as said above it could be thryroid or any number of medical conditions.
posted by cyndigo at 4:06 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try a few things, I agree with argonauta about seeing a dermatologist and gynecologist. Also, you may want to check your blood test. Sometimes slight anemia will cause hair loss.

A friend of mine was told by her dermatologist that her hair loss could be lessened further by alternating different brands of shampoo and conditioners. He suggested her buy three different BRANDS of shampoo and conditioner and switch the brand every week. The doctor would like her not to use prescription medication so she is trying what he says first.

I am losing hair too, but I think my hair loss is stress and lack of sleep because my loss is heavy on some days and others will be minimal.

Good luck.
posted by Yellow at 4:13 PM on September 9, 2011

Try Nioxin shampoo. A dermatologist recommended it after my hair fell out from pneumonia for six months.* It worked very nicely.

Also, get another doctor, 'cause that one's a douche.

* Er, the pneumonia lasted about 2 weeks, but the hair loss just kept on going.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:29 PM on September 9, 2011

Poor you! I had sudden, rapid hair loss after my daughter was born eight years ago. I would wake up in the morning with the pillow covered in hair. In the shower it was coming out in handfuls. I was totally freaked out, but my doctor said it was a normal post-pregnancy/breastfeeding thing, due to hormones and low iron. I started iron supplements, it stopped at about the six month mark and most of the hair came back.

As I'm aging, though, I'm losing more hair than I did when I was younger. (Or it's not regrowing as abundantly...) I'm 41, and if I wait too long between haircuts, I definitely see more scalp than I would like, because the hair is less fluffy.

I'm chiming in with those who say to get a second opinion from another GP, or see a derm or gyno to rule out anything serious. Looking around at women in their 60s +, though, I think it's just a normal consequence of aging that no one really talks about. Like men, some of us will lose more hair than others. I've got my fingers crossed all the balding boomer ladies will make it a sexy new senior's fad so that by the time I'm sixty bald will totally be in demand.
posted by looli at 6:19 PM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: It's not PCOS, because I sadly had to do a huge gyno workup just last month to rule out some other stuff, and the ovaries were just fine.
posted by Malla at 6:56 PM on September 9, 2011

Well, you can have PCOS without any cysts, but I'm assuming your OB/GYN looked at the whole picture of test results when ruling it out.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 7:09 PM on September 9, 2011

My doctor friends tell me that there isn't really much they can do once they rule out he major health issues. If you are otherwise healthy and it bothers you consider getting a high end wig.
posted by humanfont at 7:10 PM on September 9, 2011

I filled in as the receptionist at my friend's hair salon for a year, and one client suffered significant hair loss after the birth of her child, much like looli. Her stylist used this Phyto product, and over the year I witnessed fan-freaking-tastic eye-popping tears-of-relief results. I have since recommended it to other friends, and my mother, and they have all had appreciably good results too. YMMV, but this is what I will use should it come time for me.
posted by peagood at 9:32 PM on September 9, 2011

Sorry - the shampoo too - not just this stuff. But, again - even just the shampoo gave good results.
posted by peagood at 9:36 PM on September 9, 2011

PCOS has a large variety of possible symptoms, and--strangely given the name of the syndrome--polycystic ovaries does not have to be one of the symptoms for a given person to be diagnosed with PCOS. If you have high testosterone--especially high DHEA, that can cause hair loss. Hopefully your gyno did hormone tests as well. If not, maybe go to an endocrinologist. Even if you don't have high testosterone, your hair follicles can be extra sensitive to testosterone. Nioxin might help, but probably only a little bit. Low carb diets help reduce symptoms like hair loss in some women with PCOS. And there are some meds you could try, like spironolactone (never did anything for me, and I was on the maximum dose for quite a while) and metformin.

My sympathies about the asshat doctor. But then, I'm being redundant--MOST doctors are dismissive shitheads, it seems. In my 20's, when my hair was falling out, I was plagued with acne, had excessive hair growth on my body, it was just SO MUCH FUN to pay hundreds of dollars to a supposed medical specialist only to be told such gems as "it's only cosmetic". (Not true, btw: PCOS is associated with "real" medical problems like Diabetes and heart disease too. Not to mention that the cosmetic effects can be incredibly psychologically damaging!)

Anyway, good luck. Don't take "pooh pooh" for an answer, and definitely see another doctor or doctors until you find someone who isn't such a piece of shit.
posted by parrot_person at 1:00 AM on September 10, 2011

And get your thyroid levels tested - hair loss is one of the most common syndromes of hypothyroid!
posted by leslies at 12:36 PM on September 10, 2011

I began to lose a lot of hair at age 52. Since washing hair in hot water with shampoo removes the sebum that would otherwise naturally coat each strand of hair, I completely stopped using any shampoo or conditioner, and just washed my hair in cold water every day, which keeps it clean. The hair loss stopped within a couple of weeks, and has not returned over the past 14 years.
posted by nickji at 7:18 AM on September 11, 2011

You could try facial exercises:
posted by peppermintfreddo at 6:57 PM on September 11, 2011

Rogaine, it's not just for men. You can buy it over the counter at pretty much any pharmacy.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2011

Hit post too soon on that one. Specifically, what Rogaine will do is keep your hair in the anagen (growth) stage longer. Female hair loss is often linked to a stress or deficiency on/in the body, but won't show up generally until a couple months later. Stress-related hair loss and hereditary hair loss generally show up in different patterns -- if you see a dermatologist who specializes in female hair loss, she may be able to tell you what kind of hair loss you are suffering from (it could be both).

I just fact checked an article on female hair loss a couple weeks ago. The specialist I spoke to recommends Rogaine.

I definitely think you should continue to rule out health problems as the underlying cause of your hair loss, but in the meantime that should help with your hair regrowth.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 8:41 PM on September 11, 2011

I feel like a dolt. I don't know how I missed that you've already tried Rogaine.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 8:42 PM on September 11, 2011

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