Age-related changes in the body are very common. You may also experience changes in your skin, hair, and nails as your age advances and hair thinning is one of them. It may be due to various reasons, most revolving around the aging process. A commonly asked question is what to do about age-related hair thinning? Here are a few things about it.
What is Age-Related Hair Thinning?
Experts believe that features like thickness, volume, luster, and resilience of the fiber determine healthy hair. Also that a healthy scalp usually has a normal follicular density with no scaling, itching, burning, or erythema.1
While hair loss is thought to affect only men, women are also commonly affected. About 50% of women experience hair loss and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) affects about 30 million women in the United States.2
Hair thinning that occurs with increasing age is very common in both men and women. Age-related hair thinning occurs as a widespread thinning of hair as you get older. It is also known as senescent alopecia and is characterized by a scalp-wide loss of hair rather than classic pattern hair loss. It typically occurs in people between the ages of 50 and 80 years, in those without a prior history of hair thinning and any underlying scalp diseases, and can be superimposed on PHL.1 However, in some it may begin in the early ages too.
What Causes Age-Related Hair Thinning?
There are different types of hair loss, based on the underlying causes. It is important to know the causes of age-related hair thinning as the treatment too would vary based on the cause.
Hair health is often affected by chronic scalp inflammation. Also, changes in the environment surrounding the follicle like sebum excretion, and debris, can affect the growth and health of hair.
Some of the common causes of age-related hair thinning include genetic, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine, and thyroid disorders, or hormonal changes.3
Nutritional Deficiencies – A diet lacking in essential nutrients or inadequate intake of nutrients can lead to dietary deficiencies
Hormonal Changes – With increasing age, certain hormones like testosterone may be reduced affecting the growth of hair. Certain endocrine disorders that cause hormonal imbalance too can cause thinning of hair.
Menopause – In women, the menopausal phase is marked by hormonal changes like a reduction in estrogen and progesterone. As these hormones support hair growth, less hormone can result in thinning of hair.
Thyroid – Thyroid disorders can affect the growth of hair and result in hair loss. These are common metabolic disorders that affect with increased age.
Genetic – Thinning of hair is a common genetic trait that often runs in families, which can increase your risk of age-related hair thinning too.
Thinning of hair in women is also common due to female pattern hair loss (FPHL). It is a progressive condition in which your part begins to widen, usually in midlife, for some it may begin earlier.4
What To Do About Age-Related Hair Thinning?
As you grow older, you can maintain healthy hair in the following ways:
Diet and Lifestyle
Experts suggest that people presenting with hair loss should be screened for medical history, dietary history, and physical exam for risk factors for nutritional deficiency. Also, it is clear that in people with nutritional deficits, the deficiencies must be corrected.5
Nutritional deficits can impact hair growth and hair structure. Iron supports hair growth, hence in people with iron deficiency, a diet rich in iron is essential. The same is with vitamin B12, B complex, vitamin D, and other micro minerals.
Protein intake matters a lot as the hair follicles are made up of protein. Hair thinning is often seen more during times of injury, infection, or recovery periods, as the demand for protein is high. In such times, taking a high protein diet can help. Hence, considering the individual requirement, plan a diet rich in those nutrients and fulfill your daily dietary needs.
As nutritional deficiencies can worsen the problems, a healthy balanced diet with the right amount of nutrients can help maintain good health. However, the need for supplements is best evaluated with medical advice.
Apart from this, it is advisable to follow a healthy routine that offers enough rest, as lack of adequate sleep and being overstressed can put you at risk of various age-related problems including hair thinning. Maintain a balance of physical activity and rest to ensure good health that can support better growth of hair. Thus diet and lifestyle changes can help you deal with age-related hair thinning.
An important part of managing age-related hair thinning is taking care of your hair. Some of the important hair care tips include
Be Gentle With Your Hair – keep your hair clean but avoid washing them too frequently. Excessive washing, and using harsh chemicals can damage your hair. Ideally washing the scalp twice a week is recommended. You may consider covering your hair to protect them from dust and pollutants when going out. Be careful when using hair colors or avoid using them if possible. Hair styling tools like dryers and heat tools may be good once in a while but avoid using them daily.
Choose The Right Product – You may choose shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products to have those bouncy curls. But make sure you choose the right ones – those that do not make your hair dry or brittle. Your hair care expert may be able to guide you on the best hair care products based on your quality of hair.
Hair Care Treatment – Consider hair care treatment like using a conditioner, natural oils, or other products that add moisture to dry hair, if your hair care expert advises. Each type of hair may have different requirements so follow what suits your hair the most.
In some cases, a healthy balanced diet or dietary intervention may not be enough and supplements may be needed. For any underlying medical conditions causing hair thinning, medical treatment to control them is needed. Treating ailments like thyroid disorders, endocrine, hormonal problems, and immune disorders may be needed. Women may need medical management during menopause.
Certain medications too interfere with hair growth and result in hair thinning. It is advisable to inform your doctor about any medicines, herbal supplements, or other treatments you are taking. If you feel your hair thinning is worsening or you are losing hair in patches, see your doctor.
For some types of hair loss, medical treatment with certain medicines may be considered. However, the benefits of these medicines are weighed against the safety and the necessity of their use, hence it’s best to follow medical advice.
Taking appropriate hair care, having a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, correcting nutritional deficiencies and medical treatment can help you fight age-related hair thinning.