Growing numbers of young women, many of whom are on self imposed extremely low calorie diets, are seeking help for hair loss.
According to trichologist, Kate Dawes, IAT, an increasing amount of young women, aged between 15 and 25, are seeking treatment for diet related hair loss.
Ms Dawes says while genetic reasons, stress and other health issues can play a factor in hair loss, trichologists increasingly see a lot of young women who are affected by the condition due to completely preventable reasons.
She says while hair loss affects 50 per cent of women at some stage of their lives, women are increasingly seeking treatment at a younger age.
Ms Dawes says up to 40 per cent of the young women who seek her help for hair loss have a nutritional source to their problem.
While the women she sees don’t necessarily all have an eating disorder, many of them have an extremely limited calorie intake and are starving themselves of the essential nutrients needed for their hair health.
The impact of this is seen in hair that is dull, breaks easily and is either thinning or falls out.
Ms Dawes, the consulting trichologist for Medical Hair Restoration Australia, says hair loss is often one of the first visible signs of the damaging affects of excessive exercise and dieting.
She says after treating nutritional deficiencies, identified through blood tests, patients often notice a big improvement in their hair health within months.
Ms Dawes says a lot of women are quite surprised to learn that nutrition plays such an important role in the health of their hair.
There are many nutrients that play a role in the hair growth cycle and hair and scalp health, Ms Dawes says. However, the main nutrients that we find lacking are iron, zinc, protein and vitamin D.
While a lot of patients will act on my advice and improve their diets, there are still some who continue to eat sparse and poorly balanced diets and, as a consequence, the health of their hair does not improve.
Ms Dawes interest in nutrition and trichology began almost a decade ago, when after being diagnosed with Graves Disease, now in remission, she sought a way of managing her condition.
I wanted to find a better way of healing and I became very interested in nutrition and the link with a lot of diseases and hair and skin conditions, Ms Dawes says.
I felt a strong need to work in a field that is healing, and trichology which treats hair loss, hair shaft breakage and scalp conditions enabled me to build on my experience as a hairdresser, was the perfect fit.