Hair thinning and loss in women

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) Women can create just about any hair style they want these days. You can dye it, fry it, buy it, braid it, weave it in, or just cover it up.

But some doctors are saying the cost of beauty is not worth the consequences, which has resulted in growing numbers of younger women suffering hair loss in ways that may be prevented.

A local dermatologist explains to FOX 29's Joyce Evans that most women are not aware of why their hair is thinning or taking advantage of treatments that my save it before it's too late.

Once you notice it, panic often follows, then there's a mad dash to find something, anything to stop the thinning, the shedding, and the embarrassment that can leave you desperate to cover-up.

"The first thing women should know is there are many causes of their hair loss," Dermatologist Dr. Susan Taylor explained.

Those causes include a reaction to medicine, family history, extreme or sudden stress, tight or damaging hair styling, scalp/skin disease, autoimmune disorder, child birth, and certain birth control methods.

Doctors say any hormone altering treatment may be a risk and there are probably 10 or 15 causes.

Tens of millions of Americans suffering hair loss are women. They make up about 40% according to the American hair loss association, and it gets even worse by age 50.

"The biggest problem is for women who are maturing. They think, 'Oh, I'm getting older, I should be losing my hair,' that's absolutely incorrect," Dr. Taylor explained.

It's especially incorrect if you don't any of those 10 to 15 risk factors according to Dr. Taylor.

The doctor says hair loss can likely be treated and better yet prevented decades before you get the fall out.

"If you're 35 and haven't abused your hair - you haven't worn tight braids with extensions, long heavy locks, don't use tight ponytails, then you really should not be losing your hair," Dr. Taylor said, "If you stop it early, often you can reverse that hair loss and get it to grow back. The key is early intervention."

And you don't have to be a "woman of a certain age" to experience thinning.

"I was just waking up and having dramatic hair loss and it continuing and not being able to get it under control," Vaneeda Days explained.

Says was only 21 years old, with a thick, full head of hair that she did not abuse.

She's being treated for Alopecia Areata, which may be more common than we realize.

"That's an autoimmune disease. The cells of our body turn against our hair cells make the hair come out. We can do injections or prescription creams that can make a huge difference," Dr Taylor explained.

"In the particular spot where I experienced the hair loss, hair has started to grow back so I was really excited about that," said Days.

Could have been much worse, says Dr. Taylor, as so many women are moving away from chemicals -- favoring more "natural" styles.

But returning to braids, wigs, weaves, and hotcomb pressing those may present other problems.

"Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. I know it sounds like Greek but it's really very simple," Dr. Taylor said.

Thankfully, you might be able to fight back. "There are treatments, antibiotics, creams, injections," she explained.

She says there are some popular over the counter products that do work for some as well.

However, there is one method Dr. Taylor says she can not believe women are practicing--going for weeks even months without washing their hair.

Dr. Taylor explains there is no cure for most hair thinning conditions so treatment must be continued for the best results. She also cautions about what she calls "hype" over a number of natural treatments, gels, pomades and some herbs. What works for one may not for another.