Hair Loss? Heads Up, Ladies. Here's Help!

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Women and their hair are linked by more than mere follicles. If clothes make the man, then hair makes the woman. But where does that leave those who have lost their locks from cancer treatment or alopecia? Amy Gibson speaks up for them on her radio show, Heads Up! She joined us on Oct. 13, 2004, to share practical and personal tips on looking and, more important, feeling great again.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome, Amy. You had a personal motivation for creating Heads Up! Tell us about your own experience with hair loss.

GIBSON:
I had alopecia areata, and then it moved into alopecia totalis. And then I did not have any hair on the scalp at all. During my 20 years of daytime television starring, no one ever knew I had alopecia. I kept it completely quiet. I found all the ways to hide it from everyone, which caused me great sacrifices in my life.

I then decided it was time to help other women, and for the last several years, almost 10 years, I have helped many women through the hair loss process, which can be devastating. I then decided that I needed to take my passion for helping women another step farther, so since I have learned all the tricks I needed to learn to live a normal life with wigs, I opened a company and make wigs for women that are real quality. This area can attract very vulnerable people that are sometimes faced with their own mortality dealing with cancer, etc. and going through chemotherapy. After going through a difficult journey learning right from wrong, good from bad pieces, I decided that I would manufacture those that were correct and comfortable for women at reasonable prices.

But that wasn't enough. I still felt incomplete. So I decided to create a radio show that will soon be syndicated around the country, called Heads Up! You can listen to it on the Internet every Sunday. Go to newstalk870.com and click on "listen live" at 11:00 a.m. PT on Sundays.

MODERATOR:
That's 2:00 p.m. ET, for those not inclined to do the math!

GIBSON:
The show is the first bold female forum that covers menopause, antiaging, and the first show in the country to consistently cover female hair loss on several levels: medically, emotionally, physically how to work with wigs, etc. I teach my clients how to live a normal life with or without hair. If they choose to wear a wig, I guide them through the processes they need to know about in order to do everything from sports to actually having intimacy without the man ever having to know.

So I've become the No. 1 spokeswoman in the country dealing with hair loss, but I need to stress something, and that is that I am not a therapist, I am not a doctor, I'm not a hair stylist, and I'm not a healer. All I do is show women what has worked for me, and if it works for them, fantastic. If it doesn't, I'll find an expert for them that does deal in the area of their needs. I do phone sessions; I make lower body hair for women; I do eyebrows. That's what I'm here to do. After years of praying for answers to the question, "Why has this happened to me, what am I supposed to do with this?" I know now, thank God.

MODERATOR:
Congratulations on your success taking this unpaved road! Let's look at some questions from our members:

MEMBER QUESTION:
I am 30 years old and have been having hair loss for almost a decade now. I had three to four times the thickness before. I wash my hair once every week with shampoo but stopped oiling my hair. Is there any treatment I have to go through to stop this?

GIBSON:
First of all, the most important thing I can suggest is to make sure you look at your lifestyle first. So first I need to ask how your stress level is. Stress is one of the top contributors to hair loss.

  • No. 2, I suggest you go to your gynecologist and get a full hormone panel done. If your hormones are out of level, it can cause hair loss.
  • Third, are you low iron or low thyroid? These are major contributors to hair loss and something you may have had since birth and you may not even know it.
  • Fourth, understand we have more than 1,000 hairs on our scalp. We lose approximately more than 100 hairs a day normally.

I feel that shampoos, per se, are not the cure or the band-aid. Trying to find the underlying issue is most important, and here's what I suggest: Go to your dermatologist in your area. You're going to ask him about the following things:

  • Ask if he works with Aldara. Most hair loss, if it's not due to chemotherapy or menopause, has to do with a challenged immune system or one of the things I mentioned prior. Aldara is an immune modulator. It's a topical treatment.
  • Ask him if you are a good candidate for Rogaine, which works terrific, except when you stop the hair loss continues. But it's fine when you take it, terrific.
  • Ask him if you're a candidate for Propecia. Propecia is highly recommended as long as you're not in childbearing years or do not plan on having any more children. They say that 5 milligrams is usually safe and works terrific for women.