As we age so does our hair resulting in not just a loss of pigmentation resulting in grey hair, but other problems as well, such as thinning hair. Each strand of hair has a life span of approximately five years, after which it falls out and is replaced by a new strand. Each of the approximately 150, 000 hair follicles grow a single strand of hair. There is generally an 85 percent hair growth and 15 percent resting (no hair growth) at any given time. However, the growth rate slows as we age, and in some cases no new hair grows in, resulting in baldness.
Male Pattern Baldness
This is the most common type of hair loss experienced by men and is believed to be linked to testosterone, the male hormone. This type of hair loss can start in the late twenties and become progressively worse with age. The pattern is normally a loss of hair from the front and top of the scalp. By age thirty approximately twenty-five percent of men will begin to get thinning hair.
Treating Hair Loss in Men
There are a number of solutions available to treat baldness in men. The most frequently used are medication, whether taken orally or applied to the scalp such as Minoxidil, and hair transplants. More extensive surgical procedures are also available for both men and women such as scalp lifts and scalp reduction.
Female Pattern Baldness
Baldness in women results from a number of factors such as genetics, hormones and aging. However, unlike the case with male pattern baldness, females rarely go totally bald, although there is an obvious thinning of the hair. Genetically speaking, Native American women do not tend to suffer from female pattern baldness as much as other hereditary groups.
In the US approximately twenty million women have some type of hair loss, with about fifty percent experiencing this loss after age fifty. Hair loss in women occurs most frequently in Caucasians and Hispanics. Those of Asian and African descent are less often affected by female pattern baldness.
Treating Hair Loss in Women
Hair loss in women is almost always treatable, that is, it can be reversed with proper care and treatment. Depending on the cause of the hair loss different treatment options can be used. If the hair loss is due to hormonal imbalances, hormone replacement therapy is normally administered. For other forms of hair loss medication may be administered orally or by rubbing onto the scalp. The main lotion approved for treating hair loss in women is Minoxidil. If the loss was due to a nutritional deficiency, taking supplements may help. Hair transplant is another option that can be taken to correct hair loss.
If medical intervention and hair transplants are not viable options, you can experiment with different haircuts and wigs; also consider changing your shampoo and conditioner as this may help improve hair growth. The use of many hair care products, while not actually resulting in hair growth can provide added volume and therefore minimise the look of thinning hair.
Head Lice Infestation
Because of problems with mobility due to arthritis some older persons find it difficult to properly care for their hair. This may result in head lice infestation. However, treating head lice is easy; there are many over the counter treatments available.
The Scalp and Aging
As we age, our skin, including the scalp undergoes tremendous changes as well. One condition that affects older adults is dandruff. This occurs for two main reasons, a diminished capacity of the scalp to produce natural oils and improper hair care. When dandruff seems excessive it is important for older persons to see their doctors as it may well be related to a scalp disease.
Apart from the issues discussed above, there are other hair problems that can afflict us as we get older. Some of these include hair becoming brittle, excessive hairiness (hirsutism), and ingrown hair. Excessive hair tends to be more common in men than women. With men excess or coarser hairs grow in the ears, eyebrows (you know those bushy brows) and nose, and for women it’s on the chin and chest. Ingrown hair can affect anyone, regardless of age, but because of other health issues it can be more pronounced in the elderly.
Most age related hair problems, apart from baldness, are generally treatable.