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Question from Website Visitors: Hair Textural Changes

QUESTION FROM VISITOR TO OUR SITE

Hi, I am a 50 something year old woman and have noticed several changes in my hair over the past few years. My hair used to be much finer and straighter but now it's coarse and kinky. Can you tell me if I should be concerned about anything ?

ANSWER FROM DR. DONOVAN

Thanks for this interesting question. Many changes in the hair and scalp may occur as we get older. Some women notice that hair becomes thinner in the front while remaining curlier and thicker in the back. Hair tends to grow slower. Hair greying becomes particularly common.

photomicrograph scarring alopecia.jpg

While hair can sometimes becomes drier, coarser and more kinky as we age, it’s important to have a thorough medical examination by a dermatologist with these particular changes you describe.

Several medical conditions (such as low thyroid hormone levels) and a handful of scalp diseases (including a group of hair conditions known as the scarring alopecia’s) may also lead to coarser and kinkier hair. 

In the photo on the left, you'll see a large area of hair loss in a patient with a hair loss condition known as a "scarring alopecia."  This patient is essentially developing scar tissue in the scalp that is destroying much of their hair.  As the disease progresses (note how it is moving outward in the direction of the little arrows), more and more hair is destroyed.  As this happens, some hairs start twisting and bending - it is during this process that the patient will begin to note textural changes in their hair.  The large yellow arrow shows one of these twisting hairs. There are many causes of hair textural changes but scarring alopecia is one of them. 

You might find a few previous blogs I wrote helpful as well:

Scarring Alopecia and the Concept of the "Trichologic Emergency"

Lab Tests for Assessing Thyroid Disease

I hope this information offers you help. 

- Dr. Jeff Donovan  



Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299



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