Millions of UK women suffer as doctors underestimate female hair loss

Female hair lossMillions of UK women suffer from hair loss, as doctors underestimate the seriousness of female hair loss according to a new study. The study published in European Dermatology Journal, ‘The Journal of Applied Cosmetology’ reveals the psychological and quality of life impact experienced by women suffering from genetic hair loss – a condition often not taken seriously by doctors.

The research conducted by leading Trichologist and President of the World Trichology Society, Dr David H. Kingsley shows that, if left untreated, genetic hair loss can lead to long term psychological problems which can increase patients’ susceptibility to psychosomatic diseases. The study has also found that one in three women, aged 30 to 55, had experienced some degree of hair loss.

The study assessed women against key psychological markers including anxiety, self-esteem, depression and social interaction with a view to establishing an overall quality of life (QOL) score for each patient. One in five women who had discussed the problem with their doctor claimed the issue had not been taken seriously. As a result of hair loss being dismissed as a serious problem, over a quarter of women have been left feeling depressed, while a fifth worried if a serious disease may be the underlying cause. And with 60% of women believing stress to be a key reason for their hair loss, it seems there could be a vicious cycle at play for a large proportion of female sufferers.

With the majority of women admitting that losing their hair would be the worst thing that could happen to their appearance, it is clear that the condition and its psychological effects should be given greater priority. The finding also confirms that it is not only men who are affected by hair loss, although the problem is still more common among men, around half of whom develop male-pattern baldness at some point.

Dr Kingsley said, “Because we are still searching for a reliable cure for genetic hair loss, GPs often fail to take patients seriously when they present with signs of thinning hair.” The expert pointed out that while hair loss is not life threatening, it can be ‘life-altering’. He said the problem should be taken seriously and that available treatments can greatly improve women’s psychological health and quality of life.

Commenting on the research, David Bailey who was a leading UK Trichologist and appeared on many television and radio programmes and now retired Board of Governor of the Institute of Trichologists said, “I have worked with female hair loss for over twenty years and have seen the devastation it has caused. Many women are not taken seriously by their doctor when they first complain about hair loss, as it may not be that visible.”

He went on to say, “Patients may be suffering from a low serum ferritin, although they will not show up as anaemic in a blood test, but need to take supplementation such as florisene. Others will be suffering from a similar type of hair loss as men, and need to take some sort of anti-androgen therapy such as spironolactone or dianette. Other may have a thyroid problem, but either way, they need to be taken seriously, diagnosed accurately and then prescribed the correct medication.”

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