SRS Hair Clinic Director and hair loss expert Dr Raj Sidhu says clinics around the country continue to see a dramatic rise in the number of New Zealanders, particularly women, with advanced hair loss in their 20s and 30s – a trend that is showing no sign of slowing.
“As recently as a decade ago we would have seen the average age of patients seeking treatment for hair loss in the late 30s to early 40s, were we are seeing that average lowered by around ten years to now sitting at just 30,” says Dr Sidhu.
Early hair loss in New Zealand women may be one of the biggest contributors in the lowering of that average, he says.
“People typically think of hair loss as an issue predominantly affecting men, but the truth is more women are losing their hair these days, and it is happening much younger.
“We have long heard the statistic that one in six Kiwi women experiences some hair loss by the age of 50. This figure is quite outdated and unfortunately we believe the reality to be much worse, with the actual number closer to one in three women, and with an average age nearer to 30,” says Dr Sidhu.
The percentage of women seeking help for hair loss is also on the increase, says Dr Sidhu, with females now making up over 50 percent of SRS patients.
Many experts attribute the thinning of Kiwi women’s scalps to stress caused by changing lifestyles and the pressure on today’s young women to juggle busy office roles with the demands of raising a family and any number of other societal pressures.
“Stress affects hormone balance, with one hormone in particular called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) responsible for inhibiting hair growth by effectively suffocating the follicle,” says Dr Sidhu. “For those genetically predisposed to hair loss, DHT can accelerate the onset of hair loss meaning it expresses much earlier in life.”
Exacerbating the issue for women are the effects that chemical hair dyes, straightening, perming, tanning and poor diets can have on skin and hair health, as well as hormone imbalances caused by the contraceptive pill and fertility treatments and their potential to accelerate hair loss.
While many Kiwi men and women attribute hair loss to genetics or bad luck, Dr Sidhu says, to some degree, hair loss is preventable.
“Your body is constantly focused on survival, so it feeds the vital organs first, with hair and nails last on the list to receive nutrients and repairs. But by optimising nutrient intake and minimising negative impacts on the body we give our hair the best chance for strong growth.”
“With that in mind, there are five simple tips to keeping healthy hair. Eat a holistic and wholesome diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, learn to switch off your mind in your down time and practice good hair and skin care.”