Hair. It's been called our crowning glory, a symbol of our youth, and in
some cultures it even represents
fertility. For women all around the world, it's also an expression of
beauty, confidence, and personal style.
Unfortunately, for a growing number of women -- up to 30 million in the
United States who suffer with
hair loss -- the words "bad hair day" take on a whole new and much
more serious meaning.
"Hair loss not only robs a woman of her sense of style, but oftentimes
her sense of self-esteem and her security -- it can be very devastating,"
says Michael Reed, MD, a New York University Medical Center dermatologist who
specializes in female pattern hair loss.
Whether your loss is the result of the aging process, hair damage, trauma,
illness, or a genetic form of balding known as female pattern hair loss, the
good news is there are a variety of medical and natural treatments that can
On the downside, Reed says it's clear that most treatments take a
significant amount of time before results can be seen -- often up to a year or
more. And it is during this time, he says, the period of waiting and "not
knowing" if a treatment will work that most women find it difficult to cope
with hair loss.
Hair Loss, Loss of Self-Esteem
"Suddenly, hair becomes the most important part of their appearance and
even their personality -- it's not only the first thing they notice about other
women, it's the only thing -- and it can end up causing a great deal of
anxiety," Reed tells WebMD.
This, say other experts, can be especially true, if a woman has relied on
her looks as her calling card, or even if it represents a good portion of her
"If a woman is tied up in her physicality, if her sense of self-worth
and self-identity are defined by her physical self, then hair loss is going to
have a much more traumatic effect than it would on a woman whose persona is
much more wrapped around her intellect," says psychotherapist Lauren
Howard, CSW, a specialist in women's
mental health issues and an active participant in the
Alopecia Areata Foundation.