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How to manage PCOS hair loss

How to manage PCOS hair loss

Though many women with PCOS will experience excessive hair growth on their face and body, some may encounter PCOS hair loss and thinning, often referred to as female pattern hair loss or androgenic alopecia. 
 

Understanding PCOS hair loss

 
PCOS is associated with excessive levels of androgens, otherwise known as ‘male’ hormones, which can cause virilisation – the development of more masculine features, such as unwanted hair growth. But these surplus androgens can also trigger hair thinning, particularly near the front of the scalp. 

Offers  
Losing your hair can be extremely difficult to come to terms with as a woman. It can affect your confidence, self-esteem and even preconceived notions about femininity.
 

Tips for managing PCOS hair loss

 
Although any PCOS hair loss won’t grow back naturally, there are plenty of ways to cope with the physical changes and even stimulate new hair growth. Additionally, there are several clever ways to hide      hair loss that you don’t want visible.
 

Weight loss

 
Increasing evidence suggests weight loss can lower androgen levels, which may prove helpful for PCOS hair loss (1).
 
Although PCOS can make weight loss more challenging, losing even a small amount of weight – around 5-10 per cent – may improve symptoms, including PCOS hair thinning and hair loss (2).
 
You can learn more about losing weight sustainably and healthily with PCOS here.  
 

Optimise your nutrition

 
Vitamin C, vitamin D3, and biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin, have been linked to healthy hair growth, so it’s important to watch your intake of these nutrients (3).
 
Kiwis, broccoli, and tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C, while legumes, nuts, and seeds are packed with biotin. To support your vitamin D3 levels, try to get 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight every day. Adding oily fish, egg yolk, and fortified foods to your diet will help, too.
 
Found in whole grains and seafood, zinc also plays an important role in hair health. Research suggests increasing your intake of zinc in the form of supplementation may support PCOS-related hair loss and thinning (4).
 
Some people with female-pattern hair loss experience low iron levels (5). It may be worth taking a high-strength iron supplement formulated for hair growth, as well as increasing your intake of iron-rich food, including lean meat, beans, nuts, and dried fruit.
 

Give yourself a head massage

 
Though research is limited, giving yourself a regular scalp massage may support health growth (6).
 
If you’re pressed for time, try gently massaging your shampoo and conditioner into your hair for 5 minutes then rinse it out as usual.
 
A head massage also doubles up as a generous act of self-care, which – amongst other practises – may help to buffer against the negative emotional impacts of PCOS.
 

Consider rosemary oil for hair growth

 
Essential oils have been used throughout history to improve many areas of health, including sleep and relaxation. Now, emerging evidence suggests rosemary essential oil may support hair growth.
 
A 2015 study reported that rosemary essential oil was just as effective as minoxidil, a commonly used hair loss medication (7).
 
The best way to use rosemary essential oil is by adding 5 drops to your shampoo and gently massaging it onto your scalp. Leave for 5 minutes before washing your hair as normal.
 

Join a support group

 
There’s no doubt PCOS can take its toll on your physical and emotional health, particularly when it leads to such visible symptoms.
 
Connecting with a community of others who share similar experiences can be a source of validation and comfort.
 
Online forums and support groups provide the space to get real-life insight into the best remedies and treatments available, the experiences of others with PCOS, as well as the opportunity to vent frustrations.
 
You can find your nearest Alopecia UK support group here.
 

Practice acceptance

 
Admittedly, practising acceptance isn’t always easy. But it’s well within your reach if you struggle with PCOS hair loss.
 
Try to remind yourself that your identity is more than your appearance. You could make a list of all of your best qualities and consciously celebrate these fantastic attributes.
 
Support groups and other online PCOS influencers are a great first step into the PCOS community and help to build a positive mindset towards your shared condition.
 

Hairstyles for PCOS hair loss

 
Of course, you don’t always need medical interventions to manage PCOS hair thinning and hair loss.  In many cases, you can simply change      the appearance of your hair with different styles. 
 

For thinning hair

 

  • Fashion a shorter, layered hairstyle to add fullness and volume

  • Try volumizing hair products, like mousse or spray

  • Colour your hair to hide the appearance of thinning hair

  • Consider investing in hair extensions

  • Don’t pull your hair back too tightly

  • Zig-zag your parting

 

For a widening parting

 

  • Experiment with parting your hair differently

  • Get a fringe that sits further at the top of your head

  • Buy a clip-on fringe

  • Apply a water-proof root cover-up powder on your scalp

 

For balding from PCOS

 

  • Try a hairstyle that will cover the balding area, like a low ponytail or top knot

  • Consider using a silk hair scarf, hat, or hairband to hide the spot

  • Use a partial wig 

  • Use coloured sprays that match your hair colour to hide any bald patches

 

Find out more

 
PCOS hair thinning and hair loss can be some of the hardest symptoms to navigate for women, especially when hair is so wrapped up in ideas about femininity and identity. If you’re finding the emotional impact of hair loss overwhelming, don’t be afraid to seek the necessary support from a healthcare provider or therapist.
 
If you found this look into PCOS hair loss useful, you can find other similar PCOS guidance on our dedicated health hub. Alternatively, please get in touch with our team of expert Nutrition Advisors, who are on hand to provide free, confidential advice.

 

References:

  1. Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews.

  2. Obesity and PCOS: implications for diagnosis and treatment. Seminars in reproductive medicine. 30(6), 496–506.

  3. . Protective role of nutritional plants containing flavonoids in hair follicle disruption: A review. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. ;21(2):523. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7039910/

  4. Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Endocrine Outcomes in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Biological Trace Element Research. 170(2), 271-278.

  5. Carmina, Female pattern hair loss, 2875-2891.

  6. , Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. Eplasty. ;16:e8. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740347/

  7. , Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. ;13(1):15-21. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469



 

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Disclaimer: The information presented by Nature's Best is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.

 
 
Our Author - Olivia Salter

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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