As we age, everything slows down and changes gradually. Aging affects hair in a few different ways. In a woman’s case this is also due to menopause. For many of them, knowing what to expect can ease the stress of experiencing the changes.
Senescent or senile alopecia was originally thought to affect older people with no family history of androgenetic alopecia (AGA). It was described as diffuse non-androgen dependent hair thinning due to the age-dependent decrease in number of thick, terminal hairs. However, the results of a recent histopathologic study indicate that most cases in the elderly are in fact androgen driven, therefore senescent alopecia may be considered a disease in the spectrum of androgenetic alopecia.
Several changes are hallmark of aging hair:
COLOR. This is the first sign of aging. Hair follicles produce pigment melanin that gives hair its color. With aging, less melanin is produced so first signs of hair turning gray often begins in the 30s, usually starting at the temples then extending to the top of the scalp. Facial and body hair turn gray as well, but usually later. Graying is genetically determined.
Did you know?
“50/50 rule”-by the age of 50, 50% of people have gray hair.
THICKNESS. Since hair is made of protein strands, with aging the quality and the consistence of protein decrease so the strands become smaller and therefore hair becomes thin, fine, and light. More than 50% of the hair is so called fine, vellus hair.
DENSITY. It is considered normal to lose daily around 100 hairs, but women in menopause often face losing more hair. Hormonal changes can affect hair growth patterns as well. It’s not uncommon for menopausal women to experience both hair thinning and hair loss. In most cases, the loss will be minor, but some women may find they are able to see their scalps easily through their hair.
HAIR GROWTH. The rate of hair growth also slows down. In older women, hair grows slower, at times even can’t grow long due to its breakage. These women often decide to wear their hair short. Also, when hairs are shed they are more slowly replaced.
TEXTURE. After a certain age, many women note that their hair becomes drier, and the texture seems coarser and more brittle than before. This is due in part because the body’s production of sebum, a naturally-created lubricant of the skin and hair, slows down. The hair may become more porous and lose its elasticity as a result. Sebum production is estimated to decrease by 10% for every decade we live.
BRITTLENESS. As we age, hair also loses some of its elasticity, causing it to become brittle. Very often dry and brittle hair is also related to the use of different hair products- chemicals, bleaches, dyes.