Hair loss in elderly men and women may not be something to worry about. Hair quality and distribution changes considerably as a person ages. Other factors can affect it as well. Medications can lead to thinning hair. Some health conditions, such as thyroid dysfunction can also cause hair loss.
Hair Loss in Elderly or Balding
The most common cause of hair loss in aging men and women is androgenic alopecia, or balding. Individuals may start losing hair any time after puberty, but it is common for balding patterns to become present after the age of 40. This type of balding does not occur because of medications or disease. Rather, it is often hereditary. For example, if a man’s father lost his hair as an elderly man, it is likely that his son will also lose his hair around the same time.
As a person ages, the growth rate of hair decreases. This happens because the follicles simply do not allow for hair growth as quickly. By the time a man is in his late 60s, 80 percent of men have some substantial balding or thinning present. Elderly women are affected, too. After menopause, the growth rate of hair slows dramatically. However, most women do not lose significant amounts of hair to make it noticeable.
Health Conditions Associated with Hair Loss
Hair loss in elderly individuals may also have a direct relation to a disease or other health conditions. In addition, medications used to treat some illnesses can trigger hair loss.
Iron Deficiency: In some studies, individuals who have significant hair loss may be iron deficient. The iron deficiency could be caused by other health conditions or a poor diet. In fact, doctors have found that by improving iron deficiency in both men and women, hair re-growth rates are higher.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a zoo woo zoowoo hormonal condition in which the thyroid hormone is not properly regulated. This may be a cause of autoimmune diseases. Hair loss happens rapidly. For some, the hair thins considerably. For others, with a more serious form of the condition, large chucks of hair may fall out. Since this condition slows metabolism, this causes the follicles to slow in hair growth. However, when hypothyroidism is controlled with medication, the hair loss usually stops.
Diabetes: Diabetes can cause hair loss in some individuals. The stress of this illness causes hair to stop growing. When new hair does grow in place, it grows in slowly. Those with Type 2 diabetes may have hormonal imbalances, which can lead to hair loss. Effective management of diabetes may improve hair loss.
Poor nutrition may contribute to hair loss in elderly. A diet that is deficient in nutrients causes hair shafts to weaken. This causes hair to break and to grow back slower. Some nutrients necessary for proper hair growth include:
- Vitamin A
- B Vitamins, including B6 and B12
- Vitamin C
Many elderly individuals do not maintain a healthy diet. A diet rich in lean proteins (chicken and fish), vegetables and fruits often supplies enough nutrients to avoid deficiencies.
Medications Causing Hair Loss
As individuals age, they may become more susceptible to illnesses. Some medicines used to treat these illnesses can cause hair loss.
Blood Thinners: Medications used to treat various heart conditions, including blood thinners, can lead to hair loss. These medications are anticoagulants.
Gout Medications: Gout medications such as allopurinol can cause hair loss.
Chemotherapy Medications: These medications specifically target cell production, which happens when hair grows. Since chemotherapy drugs drastically destroy cells, which are dividing, the cells forming hair are lost. The hair falls out.
Other medications, which cause hair loss, include antidepressants and larger doses of vitamin A. The American Hair Loss Association lists a number of medications, which can lead to hair loss.
Hair loss in elderly men and women may occur because of a combination of these situations as well. Hair loss can be a symptom of a much larger problem. For this reason, speak with your doctor about it to rule out any unknown problems.