Causes Of Hair Loss In Women
Women’s hair loss can be caused by a number of different factors including genetics, stress or various medical issues. Hair loss can be either temporary or ongoing depending on the diagnosis. Consulting a trichologist is vital in order to ensure the correct diagnosis is obtained and the right course of treatment is taken.
CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS OR ANDROGENETIC ALOPECIA
One of the most common conditions that affects women is Female Pattern Hair Loss, or Androgenetic Alopecia. This hereditary condition causes thinning hair which can be found around the top of the head and/or the crown area, whilst the density of the hair from the sides and back of the scalp will remain unaffected.
You may notice you start to shed more hair than usual, and your parting becomes wider.
Female hair loss can also cause a receding hairline, where hair thins around the temples.
Female pattern hair loss usually begins at around the age of 30 and even as early as in the 20s or earlier. The thinning hair usually becomes noticeable around age 40, and may be even more noticeable after menopause. By the age of 50, 50% of women will experience some degree of hair thinning from female pattern hair loss or another condition such as diffuse hair loss or telogen effluvium.
Female pattern hair loss is often an overall thinning – two hairs where five used to be, rather than a bald area on top of the head like men. Women sometimes have a receding hairline too. Temporary conditions such as pregnancy, medication, diet, or stress can cause hair thinning, but 70% of women who experience this condition can attribute it to Androgenetic Alopecia, or Female Pattern Hair Loss. The signs and symptoms of female pattern hair loss are general thinning of hair over the top of head and moderate loss of hair on the crown or hairline.
Hormonal change and female hair loss
Hormonal changes are a common cause of hair loss in women, and can trigger female pattern hair loss. After pregnancy or discontinuation of birth control pills, many women experience hair thinning to varying degrees, usually on a temporary basis. While a woman is pregnant, and hormonal changes are occurring, more hair follicles enter the growth phase than normal. About two to three months after childbirth, the normal hair cycle returns and many hairs re-enter the resting phase which causes excessive shedding to occur.
When this happens, a woman will start to shed more hair than usual. As a result, she will usually notice large amounts of hair in her brush and bath. This is usually a temporary condition, and as hormone levels in the body return to pre-pregnancy levels after about six months, the excessive shedding normally ends. If the condition does not change after six months, a woman may be experiencing female pattern hair loss which was masked by childbirth.
Telogen Effluvium is usually temporary. The condition causes thinning of the hair from all over the scalp and is caused by an event that shocks certain hair follicles and causes the hairs produced by these follicles to move from the growth phase to the resting phase.
As the resting phase lasts around three months before the hair sheds, hair loss will occur roughly three months after the event which caused it. Triggers will usually be either a sudden stressful event or medical occurrence, but can also include:
- starting or stopping taking oral contraceptives
- pregnancy terminations
- diet pills or other medications
CHRONIC TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM / DIFFUSE HAIR LOSS
Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Hair Loss, is similar to temporary Telogen Effluvium in its causes, the main difference being that hair loss can be prolonged. The reason for this is that the underlying cause of the hair loss has not been dealt with. In order to treat Chronic TE effectively it is important not only to treat the condition with an optimum course of treatment, but also to look at the medical issues causing the problem. Chronic Telogen Effluvium can be caused by a number of health-related conditions including:
Traction Alopecia causes hair loss by placing constant, excessive tension on the hair shafts, often due to overuse of hair extensions, tight braids or weaves. The hair follicles become damaged, leading to hair loss generally centered on the hairline and temples, with only fine or ‘fluffy’ hairs left behind. If the cause of the Traction Alopecia is concentrated in one specific location, for example a heavy hairpiece or ponytail extension, the condition can also cause patchy hair loss in those specific areas. Due to the nature of this condition being related to damage caused by hair styling, Traction Alopecia mainly affects women, although it is also common in men who wear their hair in cornrows.
Alopecia Areata causes patchy hair loss that can come on suddenly, causing bald patches which are often circular. This hair loss condition is often triggered by stress or extreme shock and can be temporary, appearing around three months after the initial incident which caused the distress. Alopecia Areata affects the head only with hair loss appearing anywhere on the scalp, but it can progress to more extreme cases which can involve complete hair loss of the scalp and body.
OTHER HAIR LOSS CONDITIONS:
Trichotillomania is a self-inflicted condition which sees sufferers repeatedly pull, tug at or twist their hair until it comes out.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease which causes the body’s immune system to turn on its own tissues and organs. Perhaps best known for the butterfly-shaped rash it can cause across the nose and cheeks, Lupus can also cause diffuse hair loss.
Cicatricial alopecia, also known as ‘scarring alopecia’, is a group of rare hair loss conditions, one of which – Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia – is specific to women. These conditions target the hair follicles directly but can also include hair loss caused by scarring following burns or radiation.