HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
Significant hair loss can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and downright aggravating, leading some women to become self-conscious or insecure of their appearance. For women, hair loss may not seem as commonly discussed as it is with men. However, 30 million women suffer from hair loss every year.
It is not a rare occurrence to face this condition in some form at some point throughout your life. There are different causes for hair loss in women that range from short-term stress to long-term, medically-diagnosed conditions that require continuous or more aggressive treatment.
Did you know that 65% of women experience hair loss? Diffuse shedding (telogen effluvium), or androgenetic alopecia, are the most common forms of balding in women. According to the American Hair Loss Council, you normally lose about 100-125 hair per day. However, hair loss occurs when the hair follicle cannot regrow, or you lose more than 125 hairs per day.
Medical Names for Hair Loss
Hair loss is a broad term for the specific, clinical names for different types of hair loss. While some women may experience hair loss at sporadic times, others will routinely struggle with the condition until they found a solution fit for them. Some of the most common types of hair loss include:
Alopecia – Incurable, sudden hair loss that begins with circular bald patches due to an overactive immune system affecting 200,000 to 3 million people a year.
Telogen effluvium – A treatable hair loss condition that occurs when a person is facing a stressful experience.
Female pattern baldness – Baldness is typically talked about among males, but females also can experience permanent hair loss from the scalp, resulting in non-regrowth of hair.
Although, as discussed previously, shedding is completely normal, if there is an excessive loss of hair, consulting with a doctor or medical professional can help diagnose the condition. The sooner you speak with someone regarding your hair loss and any associated symptoms, the sooner a solution can be found for you
Common Causes for Hair Loss in Women
Stress is one of the leading factors that cause temporary hair loss in women. When there has been a significant stress-inducing event, it can change the cycle of the hair and lead to an increased loss during the shedding phase. Additionally, if anxious or nervous, it can be easy to mindlessly twirl, pull, or even chew on the hair, causing more follicles than normal to fall out. Stress is often the culprit behind thinning hair in young women, especially, due to the transitions they face through their late teens and 20s.
Women who have just had a baby frequently experience abnormal hair loss that for the most part occurs short-term. They may lose their hair by shedding more often or in different patches on the head. This can be attributed to the fact that during pregnancy there is a rise in hormones that prevents hair loss. Many women actually experience fuller, stronger hair while pregnant due to pre-natal vitamins. However, post-delivery, the hormones resume back to normal, which allows the hair to fall out as part of its normal cycle. The regular hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may then occur all at once.
The lack of protein in one’s diet is another trigger to hair loss in women. There are different types of diets that don’t give strong focus to the protein-rich foods needed for the body’s daily intake. Fish, meat and eggs are good sources of protein that can easily be incorporated into a daily diet. For non-meat eaters, there are still several alternatives, such as nuts, quinoa, and beans. If you have questions about if you’re getting enough protein in your diet, consult with a nutritionist or your doctor to implement a healthy eating plan.
Hair loss in young women is more common if they switch birth control medication or stop taking it altogether. The flux in hormone levels can cause side effects, such as hair loss, to occur. Anything that interrupts the hormonal balance in the body can be a factor in a woman losing her hair.
Anemia affects one in every 10 women ages 20 through 40. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, cold hands, and hair loss. The condition is due to an iron deficiency and can be helped by taking an iron supplement daily.
Dramatic Weight Loss
Female hair loss is a symptom of something else occurring in the body. When sudden changes occur, the hair cycle responds accordingly. A sudden drop in weight due to an illness or eating disorder can cause hair to fall out at a rapid pace.
Many of these listed causes are short-term conditions that lead to hair loss in women. However, many females face more long-term challenges of hair loss due to hormones or simply heredity.
Hair Loss Diagnosis and How It Differs for Women
Hair loss for men is more straightforward than it is for women. Nearly 90 percent of hair loss cases in men are due to hereditary male pattern baldness. They can almost count it as a certainty if other men in their family have experienced baldness throughout the years. It’s not the same story for women. We’ve already uncovered the various causes for hair loss in women, which are due to a range of conditions and circumstances.
In order to properly diagnose the reasoning behind hair loss, there are tests that can be performed to pinpoint the triggering factor(s). The tests can eliminate the possibility of certain conditions and help in finding a cause for those disorders that are treatable. Sometimes with testing for hair loss, it’s a process of elimination to get to the root of the problem.
Common diagnostic tests that women may experience include testing for:
- Hormone levels (DHEAs, testosterone, androstenedione, prolactin)
- Serum iron
- Serum ferritin
- Thyroid stimulating hormones
- VDRL (a screening test for syphilis)
- Complete blood count (CBC)
The hair pull test is another optional diagnostic test, which is just as it sounds. A hair expert will gently tug at a small amount of hair at the same time to determine if excessive loss is apparent. Typically speaking, a “normal range” is one to three hairs shed per pull.