Facilitated by Chris Bovos, BSN, CBN

91% of hair is made of a structural protein called keratin, with the rest being trace vitamins and minerals and melanin for color. You are born with about 5 million hair follicles on your body and the average hair will grow about ½ an inch a month or 6 inches a year.

There are 4 stages of hair growth:
• Anagen stage – lasts from 2 – 7 years, and hair below the surface is growing
• Catagen Stage – a transition phase where the hair follicle shrinks, lasts 1 – 2 weeks
• Telogen Stage – resting stage lasting 6 weeks – 3 months, where new hair root start to develop under the existing hair and begins to push it out
• Exogen Stage – this is the shedding stage where the hair falls out.

About 50 – 100 hairs normally fall out daily. But when you have a major illness or stress to the body or emotional stress, such as divorce, death of family member, surgery, or childbirth, the body’s resources no longer go to your hair. They go to heal the physical or emotional stress. This pushes your hair into the Telogen Stage, and that cannot be reversed. You prematurely see a lot more hairs begin to shed, and this lasts for about 3 months. Once those hair have been shed, then you will begin to grow more hair.

To prevent as much thinning as possible, be sure to do the following:
• Get more protein into your diet
• Take your vitamins daily, including calcium
• Drink plenty of water
• Avoid chemically treating your hair
• Extra collagen may help – you can get this from bone broth or gelatin

Your hair should begin to grow back 3 – 6 months after thinning occurs. If it goes on for longer, it is usually because of a vitamin or mineral deficiency, such as iron or zinc. You need to get lab work done to check both of those if you see that, and the test for iron needs to be a ferritin level. Continue to stimulate your scalp with massage or brushing to encourage circulation which helps growth.

Some people are afraid to shampoo their hair too often thinking it is hard on it, but the opposite is true. Some hair loss may be from inflammation of the hair follicles that can cause dandruff, so use a dandruff shampoo containing zinc. Some shampoos are thickening agents that contain amino acids and biotin. Biotin helps to metabolize the amino acids that help to strengthen hair.

If you take biotin supplements, please stop them 1 week before getting any lab drawn as it can alter your results.

Shampoos with vitamin E and ginseng have anti-inflammatory effects. The shampoos that were most commonly cited in the literature were:
• Nioxin 2 (for noticeably thinning hair)
• Living Proff full shampoo
• Laritelle Diamond Strong shampoo
• Dove Dermacare Scalp shampoo
• OGX Rejuvenating Cherry Blossom shampoo
• Shea African Water Ming & Ginger shampoo

Some of these are available in drug stores, many online, and at Beauty Brands or Ulta.

Then Michelle Coyne talked about her company, DigUrWig, which she started after her hair thinned dramatically on top following bariatric surgery many years ago. She provides toppers, which are small hair pieces to fill in any areas of the scalp where thinning is most noticeable. She has a wide variety of toppers and full wigs in many different colors – some synthetic and some with human hair. You can go online to www.digurwig.com to see about her products, or call her at 913-839-9298 if you are interested. Chris Bovos has some extra brochures if you want to pick one up at the next support group meeting.