PCOS affects around 1 in 5 women of reproductive age in India, PCOS involves the presence of several symptoms such as irregular periods, insulin resistance, acne and breakouts, weight gain and hirsutism or excess growth of facial and body hair. This usually happens due to the excess synthesis of androgen hormones like DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is also responsible for profuse hair loss on the scalp. DHT causes the shrinkage of hair follicles leading to hair thinning and wider partition among females. This leads to female pattern hair loss which is another symptom of PCOS.
Increased insulin resistance experienced during PCOS can lead to increased blood sugar levels, which have been shown to affect hair growth negatively. PCOS is also associated with the presence of several mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders, which can indirectly impact hair health, as stress is one of the main triggers of hair loss.
Treatment Of PCOS Related Hair loss
PCOS cannot be completely cured but its symptoms can be managed and controlled to a large extent. Similarly, PCOS-related hair loss can be controlled with holistic therapies.
These are basically birth control pills which try to regulate hormonal secretions and induce the production of sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which in turn helps reduce the levels of androgens. This helps in regularising menstrual cycles, reducing acne breakouts and controlling hair loss. These medications are prescribed in the form of pills, hormonal IUDs, patches and injections.
Anti-androgenic medications such as spironolactone, apalutamide, bicalutamide act by either suppressing the production of androgens in the body or by blocking their effects on the body and hair follicles. In this way, they help in controlling hair loss caused due to increased levels of androgens in the body.
Medications For Insulin Resistance
Medications which help control insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity such as metformin, exenatide and a class of drugs called such as thiazolidinediones. Insulin resistance is common in PCOS due to weight gain and increases in abdominal fat mass. Lowering insulin resistance can help control facial hair growth and regularise menstrual cycles.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical solution which helps in stimulating the growth of new hair. Minoxidil helps in improving blood circulation to the scalp region which helps in supplying essential nutrients for the hair follicles to grow stronger and healthier hair strands. Wide varieties of minoxidil in the market today are combined with finasteride for better effectiveness and to provide guaranteed better results in hair regrowth. Minoxidil helps in managing PCOS-related hair thinning by inducing improved hair density and strength.
Home Remedies As A Part Of PCOS-Related Hair Loss Treatment
There are several home remedies available which can also help in controlling PCOS-related hair loss.
Achieving A Healthy BMI And Maintaining A Healthy Weight : Losing weight can help reduce fat mass and also decrease the levels of androgens in the body. Reaching a healthy weight range has been shown to regularise menses and control most other symptoms of PCOS, including hair loss.
Regular Exercise Regime: It has been observed that engaging in 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for 4-5 days per week has been observed to manage insulin resistance and control androgen levels. This shall help to a considerable level to control hair loss due to PCOS.
Limiting Intake Of High Sugar, High Fat & Processed Foods: Consuming packaged foods or processed foods which usually contain lots of preservatives, sugars and additives can hamper or affect the smooth functioning of the hormonal metabolism. Regular consumption of high GI foods such as refined sugar, maida (refined wheat flour) products such as white bread, biscuits, rusks, kharis, etc. can also lead to spikes in insulin levels which in turn induces fat accumulation and high levels of androgen in the body. For ensuring correct hormonal balance, reducing or avoiding the intake of packaged, processed, junk, deep-fried and high-GI foods in the daily diet can be helpful since they worsen insulin resistance.
Regular Hair Wash With Mild Shampoo: It's necessary to shampoo your hair locks twice or thrice a week to clear off the sebum accumulation on the scalp and avoid greasiness. Depending on the length of the hair, washing hair two to three times a week can ensure a cleaner and well-hydrated scalp.
Avoiding Tight Hair Ties And Hairstyles: Choosing appropriate hairstyles when there is hair thinning as well as profuse hair shedding due to PCOS. It's necessary to choose hairstyles which involve tying hair in a loose manner which can remain in place but not too tight. The use of hair ties or buckles which cause more hair strands to break is not advisable. Using simple cloth-based hair buckles, satin ties and sturdy hair clips which secure hair strands safely and don't cause too much hair pulling or wounds on the scalp is recommended.
Avoiding Regular Use Of Bleaches, Hair Colors As Well As Hair Dyes: Using hair colors and hair bleaches too often can strip the hair strands of their natural color too soon and render the hair strands dry, devoid of adequate moisture, fragile and prone to breakage. The strong chemicals in these hair colors can weaken the structure of the hair strands hence it shall be safer to reduce the frequency of hair coloring or choose more natural hair colors for retaining the integrity of the hair shafts.
Avoiding Regular Use Of Hair Styling Tools: Frequent use of hot hair styling tools such as iron rods or straighteners which tend to weaken and damage the hair strands can break hair’s structural integrity.
Regular Warm Oil Massages: Massaging the scalp on a regular basis with warm oils such as coconut, almond, jojoba or sesame helps improve blood circulation which promotes nutrient and oxygen supply to hair follicles which stimulates hair growth.
Styling PCOS Affected Hair: There are many tips to hide or conceal scanty, thin hair related to PCOS. Certain hair products and hairstyles can help mask hair loss around the hairline or near the hair partition. Below are the easy tips for enhancing overall hair looks :
Try A Different Hair Partition: Changing your usual hair parting to a side parting can help in masking hair loss. Hair loss is more in that area of the scalp when we are used to drawing our hair partition at a certain part of the scalp, so changing our hair partition each day while setting our hairstyle.
Using Root Concealer: Root concealers are used for concealing hair greys. But along with masking hair greys, they can also help in hiding thin hairs and give an appearance of thicker hair when applied to hairs near the hairline or near the hair partition.
Helping Your Hair With Volumizing Hair Products: Using hair volumizing hair products such as conditioners, shampoos, mousses, and sprays also gives a thicker appearance to hair locks. But, however, we need to make sure that any of the above-mentioned hair products do not cause scalp irritation, which can ultimately lead to more hair fall and scalp inflammation.
Hair Cut Makes Hair Loss Less Visible: Keeping short hair can help cover balding and thinning areas on the scalp region. Keeping long hair can cause entangling and knots in thin hair and lead to shedding and easy breakage.
Brushing And Detangling Gently: Use a good quality hair conditioner after shampooing and a wide-toothed comb for removing tangles to avoid causing too much hair breakage. Tying hair in loose ponytails for long loose braids can help cover balding and hair-thinning areas on the scalp caused due to PCOS.
Hair loss due to PCOS cannot be reversed but can be effectively controlled by bringing about considerable changes in our dietary and lifestyle habits. There are also many lines of treatment for managing PCOS-related hair loss by managing PCOS symptoms.
Q1 - Can Hair Loss From PCOS Grow Back?
Hair that is already lost from PCOS cannot grow back on its own. But, if there are active hair follicles where hair has been shed, chances of regrowth are possible with certain treatments such as minoxidil, finasteride, and oral contraceptives which help in controlling hair shedding as well as in stimulating new hair regrowth.
Q2 - What Helps With Hair Loss From PCOS?
Consuming a natural, healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a proper lifestyle such as proper sleep timings as well as a regular exercise regime can help in controlling hair loss related to PCOS.
Q3 - Can PCOS Cause Hair Loss?
Yes, PCOS can cause hair loss called androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss, due to increased levels of androgens in the body.