Hair Changes In Mid Life – How Can We Manage Hair Problems In 30s 40s 50s and above?
Sooner or later, the growing age will take a toll on your face and body. For many, hair changes can be a concern as it makes them looks older although they aren’t of that age. This thing scares them a lot. Let’s go through everything on hair changes as you age and how can you counter the aging effects on hair.
Hair changes – Why it occurs?
Each string of hair is made up of keratin, the protein that provides strength to it. Hair has basically two distinct structures; one is the follicle which is underneath and the other is the shaft, the hair or black strings you see on the scalp. The shaft is actually dead and the only living part in the hair is the follicle in the epidermis which contains cells.
Hair changes are caused by biochemical, microscopic and hormonal changes or various other environmental factors that affect follicles and causes color changes, wear and tear of the hair. Hair changes may also occur due to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and medications used to treat these conditions.
What sort of changes in hair occurs as we age?
We only talk about anti-aging skincare products that can induce anti-aging effects on hair, but we hardly pay heed to aging hair. Like the skin, hair also undergoes gradual changes with the age.
Thickness and Texture – Dearth of protein
The age of a single hair is about 4-5 years and they grow a little less than 1/2 inch a month. That means if the hair is 12 inches in length, it has seen about 3 years of friction, ultraviolet rays, brushing, combing, heat from the blow dryers and a lot of chemical exposure through straightening and coloring.
As we age, the hair follicles begin producing thinner, smaller hair, a condition sometimes known as senescent alopecia. The texture of the hair changes due to loss of proteins. It results in curly hair turning into straight and vice versa.
Easily breakable – Drop in keratin level
The loss of keratin protein in the hair not only affects the color of the hair, but also its strength. The drop in the keratin level can lead to less elastic and weaker hair. This means they are easily breakable when tugged or pulled.
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White or gray hair – Blame your genes
The exact reason of hair going gray or white is not fully understood. However, what turn it into white color is the lack of melanin, the pigment that provides color to the skin and hair. Typically, if you are a lighter skinned person, your hair will turn white early. The change can occur 10 years earlier than those people with darker skin.
The whitening of the hair is primarily due to genetics. If your parents or grandparents had experienced white hair at an early age, it is likely you will also face it. By the age of 50, more than 50 percent of people will see over 50 percent of their hair turning white, irrespective of gender and initial color of the hair. In comparison to scalp hair, the hair on the eyebrows, chest and pubic hair turns to white much later.
There are other reasons why hair turns white or gray early including stress, lack of vitamin B12, thyroid disorder and smoking.
Baldness and thinning of hair – Fluctuations in hormones
By the age of 60, almost two-third males will lose a significant amount of their hair. Medically, this is known as male-pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. Initially, the hair loss will be at the top of the head. It is due to hormonal changes that make the follicles produce less small and less visible hairs.
Women on the other hand, may experience their hair becoming thinner and visible on the scalp. It is believed that it happens due to genetics while some other experts point towards unhealthy diet, lack of sleep, certain health conditions and extreme lifestyle.
Excessive hair – Medical conditions playing mischief
Too much hair growth is also a problem in some women. This condition is known as hirsutism in which unwanted hair grow on a woman’s body. These hairs grow on body parts typically associated with males such as on the face, chest, back, neck and thighs. This may occur due to genetics, medical conditions such as PCOS, adrenal gland disorder, and certain medications.
Though too much hair loss is not harmful, it can be very embarrassing for a woman. In very rare situations, it could be an adrenal or ovarian tumor.
Slow growth – Hair growth goes in hibernation
At the mid-age around 50, hair growth rate spends most of its time in the resting phase, which means the growth slows down as against when you were younger. It has more to do with scalp rather than the hair strands.
How age related hair changes can be managed?
While your hair will see many changes once you cross 40-50 years of age, there is a lot you can do to work around them. Here are few things you can do in order to manage hair problems:
- In terms of texture and thickness, anti-aging product containing humectants makes hair look smooth while the hair conditioner seals the cuticle, which is the outer layer at the base of the hair. Products containing antioxidants protects the hair from ultraviolet rays. These products change only the appearance of the strands, not the basic structure.
- For gray hairs, there is a range of color options you can choose. Reverse highlights put thin lines of darker color to turn the gray colors black. Another option is permanent dying of the hair. The dye creates color molecules in the hair shaft and can resist repeated washing.
- For weak or easily breakable hair, there are products containing the keratin protein which can restore the hair strength. These topical products are known as dimethicones and they provide strength and elasticity to the hair.
- Though there is no cure for baldness, some medications such as topical minoxidil and oral Finasteride can trigger the growth of new hair.
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Hair transplant is a permanent solution in which tiny segment or plugs from the healthy scalp are taken and grafted to the bald area. Hair transplant is an expensive solution that requires many sessions. You might be asked to take medications before and after the procedure. Possible side effects include scarring and infection.
Taking alternate preventable route for hair problems is not a bad idea at all. Here are some alternative ways you can try.
- Various studies suggest that lavender oil is helpful in patchy hair loss (alopecia aereta)
- Eating a healthy nutritional diet full of protein and vitamins can help avoid many of the preventable hair problems
- Avoid or limit the use of harsh tools such as curling irons, hot rollers and hot oil treatments
- Avoid certain hairstyles such as ponytails and pigtails
- Quitting smoking can restore hair growth rate
Aging brings a lot of changes in your body but hair problems are mostly harmless. They can be easily managed with different treatment options. Talk to your dermatologist or skin specialist to know more about various methodologies to counter hair changes.