Help! I’m losing my hair

Around half of women experience some hair loss or thinning as they age. So what can you do about it?

If you’ve noticed your crowning glory is starting to thin, you’re not alone.

Around 49 per cent of women experience hair thinning or hair loss, and it becomes more common with age.

Why causes female hair loss?

Your genes are partly to blame – even if your parents have thick locks, you may inherit genes that cause thinning hair, particularly in the front or top area of the scalp.

Smoking and high blood glucose levels are also associated with hair thinning or loss, says new research by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Being exposed to ultraviolet light for more than 16 hours a week can also take a toll on hair.

David Salinger, of the Australian Trichology Centre, says some oral contraceptives contribute to thinning too.

So how do you treat female hair loss and thinning?


Vitamins A, C and E and zinc help combat inflammation around hair follicles that can slow hair growth, says David.

“Around 90 per cent of men and women have inflammation around the hair follicles that you can’t see with the naked eye,” he says.

“It’s often concentrated on the top of the scalp and is due to white blood cells attacking the hair follicles.

“Antioxidants neutralise this effect and stimulate factors that help the growth of hair.”

hair loss

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs

“After menopause some women go on finasteride – the drug men take for genetic hair loss,” says David.

“It can reduce sex drive in men, but women don’t seem to experience that problem.”

Finasteride, a prescription drug, reduces DHT – the male hormone that damages hair follicles and hair growth.

David says over-the-counter medications that help hair spend longer in its “growth” phase can also help.

Laser therapy

Laser phototherapy can be used to stimulate hair follicles.

It’s based on increasing the amount of a natural chemical, ATP, found in cells in the hair follicle.

Higher levels of ATP increase cell activity, and this encourages hair growth.

The laser light is also designed to increase blood circulation in the scalp to improve hair follicle health.

Future hope for hair loss treatment

Earlier this year, researchers at Osaka University discovered an ingredient in egg yolk that stimulated hair growth in mice.

But using the technology and turning it into a treatment available to the public could be at least five years away.

And University of Manchester researchers have discovered that a drug originally designed to great osteoporosis has an unexpected and positive side effect – it stimulates hair follicles and hair growth.

Your hair isn’t the only thing that changes as you age. Find out how to look after your skin through the decades, how to treat adult acne and 6 ways to stay fit and healthy after 50.

Watch Jo Stanley discover how our hair can influence our sense of self and identity on House of Wellness TV.

Written by Sarah Marinos