Keep Me Away From The Papers!

October 5, 2008 by Michelle

I did it again. I read something in the newspaper, and now I’m totally paranoid. Ironically enough, this time it came from the Lifestyle and Entertainment section. It sounds innocuous, right? Ha!

The article in question is about hair loss. Well, I’m a woman in my early thirties; this shouldn’t be an issue right? I didn’t think it was either, but I read the article because I generally read all articles that have any modicum of interest to me … and it’s possible that my husband’s pate isn’t quite as full as it was when we were dating.

The problem? It was all the statistics and information they provided.

As a teenager, the average person has about 100,000 scalp hairs. Nearly everyone experiences some hair loss with age, but for people with pattern hair loss – a genetic condition inherited from one’s parents that causes hair on top of the head to gradually fall out – the problem is more noticeable. About half of men have significant hair loss by about age 50, and 38 percent of women have it by age 70.

Wait a minute. Almost two in five women have significant hair loss by age seventy? Eek!

Pattern hair loss is caused by a gradual shrinkage of hair follicles on top of the head, so they become less effective at sprouting hair. Normally, each hair grows for two to six years, rests for several months, and falls out. Then a new hair emerges. In a healthy scalp, more than 90 percent of hair follicles are in the growth phase.

But as our hair follicles shrink, the growth phase gets shorter and the resting phase, longer. The result is double trouble: not only are the new hairs shorter, but there are also fewer of them. These older, smaller follicles also produce thinner hair. Men with pattern hair loss (and a very small percentage of women) have a third problem: the follicles shrink so much they stop producing hair altogether, so the bald patch starts to take over.

Now I’m thinking about how I have all these hairs on the side of my head and by my forehead that are tiny and short and fine. And never grow. Ever. OMG, I’m experiencing hair loss!

Still, the cause of women’s pattern hair loss is less well understood. Researchers believe that several enzymes and hormones may combine to produce effects that are similar to DHT. Estrogen seems to be protective against hair loss, so some research suggests that the estrogen-to-testosterone ratio may be a factor. Although hair thinning can occur at any time after puberty, many women first experience it in their 50s, possibly as a result of ebbing estrogen levels.


Wait a second. I’m having these non-growing hairs at 32 (ok, so maybe I’ve had them for awhile) and most women don’t get it until they’re fifty. What does this mean for me? Am I having estrogen problems now, too? I need to talk to my ob/gyn.

In the early stages, you can minimize hair loss by treating your hair gently. Hair is more fragile when it’s wet, so it’s important to softly dry it with a towel – and don’t pull at it with a comb or brush. Twirling your hair can twist it off its follicular moorings. Head scratching may help you think, but it’s hard on your hair. If you’ve got an itchy scalp, the hair-friendly solution is to use some kind of anti-itch shampoo. Hairstyles with braids – indeed, any style that pulls the hair back – can speed hair loss because they tug on the hair.

You’re kidding right? Don’t brush or comb my hair when it’s wet? People, I have somewhat curly hair. If I don’t comb it when it’s wet, I’m totally sunk. WHO doesn’t brush or comb their hair when it’s wet?

And no twirling? I twirl my hair all the time! I need to stop this habit immediately.

Head scratching is a problem? Seriously? I don’t do it that often, but now I am completely conscious of every single time I touch my head or scratch it. Guess what happens now that I know every scratch of my head is damaging follicles. I am becoming completely paranoid about scratching my head for any reason. How about you? Think about how important it is to not scratch your head. Raise your hand if your head isn’t itching just thinking about needing to not scratch it. I didn’t think so.

No braids? No pulling my hair back? I’m a mom! What do you think I do with my hair five or six days a week? And I just realized that I put my hair into a ponytail (unconsciously obviously) when I went out to garden this afternoon. And now it’s out, and I have messy loose hair. I have to put my hair up when I work out or it drives me nuts. On the plus side, maybe this is a good reason to quit working out. Or not.

My other issue is sleeping. I’m a very active sleeper, and I roll over a lot. And I move my head around to find just the right spot for my head on the pillow. Now all I can think about is the damage I’m doing every time I move my head. Obviously, I’ve made this problem in my head much bigger than it actually is.

BUT I will say that my hair is definitely less thick than it was before I was pregnant with Mister Man.

Reading through the rest of the article doesn’t give me much faith. The cures you read about don’t really work. Hairpieces are not an option. And the medicines that do work only work for as long as you use them. If you stop, the hair goes away. I don’t think I’d ever go the route of medicines anyway.

This is why I need to cancel the paper. I don’t need something silly like this to occupy my thoughts. I’m perfectly capable of coming up with some dumb issue all on my own, thank you.

    Comments

  • anymommy


    Lol! I’m good at finding things to stress about too. Hopefully, this one is all in your head (pun intended).

  • Melissa


    From what I understand grapeseed extract (which is a vitamin) will help with thining hair.

    I take methotrexate and my hair is thining quickly…I’m thinking about giving it a try.

  • Karen


    My grandmother has been teasing her hair for years to cover the bald spot. I live in fear. My daughter has been blessed with exceptionally thick hair from Sam and I keep telling her to be grateful. When she goes bald someday she’ll still have hair left!

  • Swishy


    OK, I put my hair in a ponytail all the time (like every day) AND my grandmother is TOTALLY “thinning.” I would totally do female Rogaine at the first sign of losing my hair, I swear.

  • Angela


    LOL! I too am able to come up with all kinds of neuroses on my own, without helpful articles like that one. But I feel better because my hubby loves to scratch his head (he doesn’t have dandruff, I promise) all the time, and his hair is healthy and thick. So surely that’s not a problem. But yeah, I’ve had to quit looking things up on Web Md. Seriously, I cannot look anymore. Whatever I trip over, I become convinced that I have. It’s bad!

  • Swistle


    Every time I get a haircut, I have to keep myself from grabbing my stylist by the lapels and forcing her to tell me my hair is/isn’t thinning at the temples.

  • Michelle


    Anymommy – I’m sure it’s totally in my head. I have nice thick hair.. just not as thick as I want it to be. And better to stress over something totally imaginary like this than to have something real to worry about, right?

    Melissa – Well considering that grapeseed oil is a staple in my pantry, I may have to try that out (right after I do the mayo and the olive oil and the avocadoes and …).

    Karen – I tell Mister Man the same thing. Except that apparently he had a BEAUTIFUL head of hair as a kid. Not so much anymore. And Little Miss has scraggly little hair. We’re still waiting for it to grow in.

    Swishy – Just make sure you don’t pull your hair out over the move! Good to know that your ponytail isn’t causing you any damage! Yet.

    Angela – Phew! I’m officially putting the ponytail back into the rotation. And I totally get the hypochondriac urge. It’s way too easy.

    Swistle – You don’t need to grab her by the lapels. There are far more subtle ways that you can do it. You just have to finesse her.

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