For many women, hair loss is a harsh reality. But from a sense of shame, the issue tends to be swept under the rug and is rarely spoken of.
Nadia Sawalha, a host of Loose Women in the UK, also suffers from this problem, but she’s tired of keeping quiet about it.
“I’ve got a confession to make about my hair… one that is actually a lot tougher for me to talk about than even I’d imagined,” Sawalha wrote on Facebook alongside a powerful video revealing her hair loss. “I know so many of you deal with similar issues and I hope by speaking out it helps make you not feel alone in this, and please share if you think it might help someone you know.”
I've got a confession to make about my hair… one that is actually a lot tougher for me to talk about than even I'd imagined.I know so many of you deal with similar issues and I hope by speaking out it helps make you not feel alone in this and please share if you think it might help someone you know xx
Posted by Nadia and Kaye on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Sawalha revealed that her curls, which were once her “crowning glory,” became frizzy and began to thin after her pregnancies. Now, going through perimenopause, she estimates that she has lost about a third of her hair. Hair loss of all types is common among women, particularly during hormonal shifts such as menopause, but coping with it isn’t so easy, and Sawalha too has a hard time dealing with it.
“It sounds awful saying it as people lose all of their hair to alopecia or cancer treatment but it doesn’t make it any easier, the fact that I’m losing my hair,” Sawalha said through tears. “I went to a top hair specialist who told me that I have the balding gene.” She said that the specialist described her hair follicles as “closed up,” and that it wasn’t likely that she would grow new hair in those areas.
After seeing Sawalha’s video, many women came forward to share their own stories and offer their support. “Bless you Nadia. So many women have to face this and you do not realize how much you have helped others by being so honest and showing your feelings about this,” one commenter wrote. “I lost my hair to alopecia and found myself saying things like you, it’s not anything compared to those with cancer, but having spoken to many people with hair loss I’ve learned it doesn’t matter. Hair loss is hair loss and it makes you feel sad and angry and upset and that’s okay. It’s not ‘just hair’ and some people struggle to understand that, but our little community is so supportive of each other… you aren’t alone,” another reassured.
Dr. David H. Kingsley, a board certified trichologist (meaning, an expert in issues related to the hair and scalp), believes that Sawalha suffers from a combination of temporary and genetic hair loss, which he says is very common. “Obviously I cannot diagnose her without looking at her hair and without asking her questions, however, the first thing I would look for would be telogen effluvium, and I would have her do blood tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as iron and vitamin D, especially as she lost hair post-partum,” Dr. Kingsley told Yahoo Beauty.
“Many women do have genetic hair loss but I personally would never call it the ‘balding gene,’ as that implies total hair loss, and there are different ‘levels’ of genetic loss. I can’t see if Nadia has this or not,” he continued. “Genetic hair loss occurs in about 33 percent of women, and the three life stages of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are times when it can become more apparent.”
If you think you may be experiencing hair loss like Sawalha’s, a trichologist like Dr. Kingsley can put you on a plan to determine the root cause of your hair loss and treat it at its source. That means seeing a general practitioner to “have a physical with blood tests that I specifically recommend, including what I mentioned earlier, plus thyroid,” Dr. Kingsley said. “I would suggest supplements if necessary and topical treatments to improve the health of her hair and reduce the amount coming out.”
Since hair loss can be traumatic, particularly for women, attention to psychological wellbeing is also an important part of treatment. “I would also counsel her about the condition realistically but positively,” said Dr. Kingsley. “And follow through with her to make sure that she is okay. I’d be surprised if there was no new hair present when she was assessed.”
For those suffering silently from female hair loss, don’t be afraid to speak to your friends and family for support, and remember that you’re not alone.
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