Hair Loss in Women
More than two thirds of the women today are experiencing hair loss at some of point or the other. Hair loss can be traumatic for women. Hair loss is certainly an embarrassing and bothersome issue for women, because hair is one of the greatest assets any woman has. This article looks at the various causes and treatments for hair loss in women. Common causes of hair loss in women are medication side effects, hormone fluctuations, physical or mental stress, and illness. Chemotherapy for cancer patients may also lead to hair loss. Read through the article to learn in details about the hair loss in women.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women
- Hair Treatments or Hairstyles:Harsh hairstyles or hair treatments are one of the main causes of female hair loss. Using too much of hairstyling items and chemical products such as hair straighteners, flat irons, bleaches and dyes can also lead to hair fall. Harsh hairstyles by using rubber bands or barrettes can also contribute to hair loss. Tight hairstyles like cornrows can sometimes lead to permanent hair loss.
- Female Pattern Baldness: It is commonly known as the androgenetic alopecia, which is a hereditary condition. . It occurs when the hormone testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone. Therefore, women suffering from this condition usually have a hormonal imbalance. And, when the body contains high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and hormone testosterone, this hormonal imbalance can adversely affect the natural hair growth process and damage the hair follicles, resulting in premature hair loss.
- Other Hormone Imbalances: A womanâ€™s body undergoes various hormonal changes through out her life; especially during the period of pregnancy the hormonal activities in a woman are very high. These can be occurred due to hysterectomy (procedure to take out the uterus), menopause, pregnancy, post-pregnancy hormonal shifts, and use or discontinuation of birth control tablets. All these can lead to hair loss in women. Fortunately, there are some medications available today that can help you treat loss of hair in women due to hormonal imbalances. Mostly these are in the form of oral medications.
- Emotional Imbalances and stress:The various emotional imbalances that happen in a woman can also lead to hair loss. These emotional imbalances can occur due to various reasons such as stress or work pressures. The tension in the body can weaken the hair follicles present on the head. Hair loss which occurs due to stress or emotional imbalances can be controlled by doing some activities that can counter the stress levels in an individual such as yoga and meditation.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, normal hair loss may not occur. The saved-up hair may be shed after birth in clumps. It could take up to three months for the lost hair to grow back.
- Surgery or Illness: Surgery and certain ailments such as thyroid disease, severe infection, lupus and iron deficiency can contribute to hair fall or bald patches in women. In such situations, the body could stop non-essential functions like hair production.
- Nutritional Deficits: Lack of adequate nutrition is another cause of hair loss in women. Diet plays the most important role in controlling the hair loss. An improper diet can multiply the intensity of hair loss many a time. Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia can temporarily stop hair from growing. Lack of nutrition can occur if there is inadequate intake of minerals, vitamins and protein. This can tax the body and affect hair growth. Taking the junk food or food with a lot of calories can severe the process of hair loss. At the same time taking health food rich in protein and fiber can cause a definite amount of hair growth and help you in having a healthy hair.
- Vitamins and Certain Medicines: A few medicines used to treat gout and high blood pressure can also lead to hair loss. High intake of vitamin A can lead to thinning of hair.
Treatments for Hair Loss
- Creams and Lotions: These include Regaine (minoxidil) and Rogaine, which can be bought over the counter. These need to be applied directly on the scalp.
- Wigs or Hair weaves: Wigs can give you an almost-normal look. They may be expensive, but can be most useful to cancer patients and those suffering from temporary hair loss.
Balding Hair in Women:
Thinning hair or balding is a sign of interruption in the natural hair growth cycle, which results in excessive hair fall without new hair growth or replacement. While, balding is usually associated with men, women can also experience baldness for various reasons, including aging, genetic factors, hormonal fluctuations and certain medications and health conditions. Read through the article to learn more about the causes of balding hair in women and how it can be treated.
Causes of Bald Spots in Women
There can be various factors that lead to bald spots in women, and it is essential to figure out the exact causes of bald spots in women for effective treatment. This article will tell you some of the common factors that cause bald patches or spots in women.
Hair fall in women often doesnâ€™t result in bald patches or spots. However still, there is possibility to get bald patches for women also because of certain underlying conditions or diseases. Hair falls in women usually lead to overall hair thinning on the scalp. However, it can also lead to bald patches like men. So, letâ€™s see what are the main possible causes of bald patches or spots in women are.
Causes of Bald Patches in Women: Bald spots or patches in women can be caused due to numerous factors. Most commonly, women tend to experience severe hair fall on the scalp during and after menopause, but grow coarse hair on other body parts, especially on the face. Some of the common factors that cause bald spots in women are given below.
Female Pattern Baldness or Androgenic Alopecia:
- According to the United States of National Library of Medicineâ€™s Medline Plus, female pattern baldness is one of the main causes of baldness in women.
- Although doctors have not yet determined the root cause of this hair loss, it is usually linked to several factors that include a family history of androgenetic alopecia, aging and hormonal changes. This kind of hair loss usually starts with thinning hair at the middle parting line, then spread through the crown or top of the head.
- Both women and men can experience male pattern baldness, also known as androgen alopecia, which can cause bald patches and excessive thinning of hair mostly on the sides and top of the scalp.
- This condition is mainly cause due to the transition of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Certain hair follicles become extremely sensitive to dihydrotestosterone and thus the hair follicles begin to shrink.
- Male pattern baldness can affect to women having high circulating androgen levels due to any underlying medical condition, or it can be genetic in some cases.
- Studies have found that some of the common causes of androgen alopecia in women are perimenopause and menopause, use of birth control pills, polycystic ovarian syndrome, pregnancy, especially those who have high androgen index.
- According to the Medline Plus, alopecia areata is another condition that can lead to female baldness. Alopecia areata is considered as an auto-immune disorder, in which the immune system attacks its own hair follicles by mistake, which can affect both women and men and can cause bald spots.
- Heredity is considered the main cause of this condition. Alopecia areata can be characterized by the sudden appearance of bald patches which are often round in shape; however, they can also appear in any other shape. In certain cases, it can also cause total scalp baldness, which is known as alopecia totalis.
- Alopecia areata may not only cause scalp hair loss, but it can also affect the hair of other body parts. However, in most cases, alopecia areata is a temporary condition, where the hair growth will resume without or with treatment.
- Telogen effluvium is another common cause of bald spots in women. This condition is often associated with high stress level and trauma or shock, which can cause the follicles to hinder the normal hair growth cycle or shift into the resting phase.
- Excessive stress, severe infection, major surgery, malnutrition, child birth and thyroid problems are some of the common reasons that cause telogen effluvium. However, this condition will usually become normal within a period of 2-3 months.
- Fungal infection is another possible factor that can cause bald spots or patches in women. Fungus infection such as ringworm can have an effect on the scalp and can cause hair loss or bald spots.
- The bald patches due to fungal infection usually appear scaly, red and itchy. Once the infection is properly treated or cured, hair growth can resume on the affected area.
- In some cases, pregnancy can also lead to balding hair in women. â€œAmerican Academy of Family Physiciansâ€ notes that women can suffer from temporary hair loss for 3 months after child birth. However, this is a natural hair restoration process, because the hormonal levels in the body increase during pregnancy and stop natural hair shedding. And, when the hormonal levels decrease, retained hair starts to fall out and reset the normal hair growth cycle.
Other Causes of Bald Patches in Women: Apart from the above mentioned causes, many other factors like vitamin and iron deficiency, certain health conditions like lupus, diabetes, syphilis, thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, autoimmune conditions like a Addisonâ€™s disease and erythematosus and certain medications like chemotherapy agents, beta blockers and hormone conditions can also contribute to female baldness. Women can also experience excessive hair fall due to tight-hairstyles, harsh chemical hair care products and hair styling products.
Treatments: According to the Medline Plus, female pattern baldness can be treated or controlled by using a prescription medication like Minoxidil. If your hair loss is due to the medications you are using, consult your doctor and try changing your medicine or reduce your daily dosage. Treatment for balding hair in women will differ from person to person depending upon the root cause of hair loss. So, if you are suffering from excessive hair fall, make sure you consult a physician and figure out the reason behind your hair loss and get the appropriate treatment.
Hormonal Hair Loss in Women
The main factor that contributes to female hormonal hair loss can stem from hormonal imbalances, imbalances of testosterone levels, estrogen levels or thyroid hormones. Hair loss in women often relates to the hormonal changes or hormonal imbalances. Hormonal issues like thyroid problems, depleted progesterone or estrogen and excess testosterone in women are all some of the common causes of hair loss in women. Besides, certain health conditions can also lead to hormonal hair loss in women and other hormone-related problems such as excessive hair fall, especially on the crown and thinning hair on the whole scalp. Read on and learn more about the hormonal hair loss in women.
Causes of Hormonal Hair Loss in Women:
- Perimenopause and menopause are the major causes of hormone related hair problems.
- As women grow older, the production of estrogen reduces and causes the estrogen levels to decline; hence it creates an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen.
- This imbalance or hormonal changes increase the rate of testosterone conversion, resulting high levels of androgens such as dihydrotesterone (DHT), which is the male sex hormone that is responsible for hair loss. This change affects the natural hair growth cycle by shrinking new follicles of the hair.
- Besides, elevated stress and certain health conditions such as polycystic ovarians syndrome and thyroid disease can trigger hormonal changes, resulting in thinning hair or hair loss.
Elevated DHT/ Testosterone Levels:
- The increasing levels of dihydrotestosterone(DHT) and hormone testosterone can cause female hair loss. When testosterone reaches the hair follicleâ€™s sebum or oil glands, it converts to dyhydrotestosterone which in turn leads to hair fall.
- Men are more likely to experience this kind of hair loss, which usually appear as pattern baldness. However, certain conditions can contribute to the rise of DHT and testosterone levels and can cause this kind of hair loss in women also.
- This kind of hormonal hair loss in women is often related to women who are in menopause, experiencing certain birth control side effects and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Estrogen or Progesterone Deficiencies:
- Low levels of progesterone and estrogen can also cause pattern baldness in women because estrogen plays a main role in counteracting the effects of converting testosterone into DHT.
- Women with normal estrogen levels are at lower risk of facing hair loss, since estrogen stimulates hair growth. But, when the levels of estrogen decline, DHT and testosterone can readily damage the hair follicles.
- This kind of hair loss condition often cause to women who are experiencing hormonal changes due to aging, have gone through menopause or entering menopause and after childbirth.
Thyroid Hormone Imbalance:
- Thyroid hormone imbalance, triiodothyronine and thyroxine imbalance are again some of the main reasons that lead to hormone related hair loss.
- The thyroid hormones help in hair follicles and the scalp cells metabolic processes, and when the thyroid metabolism is either hypothyroidism (under active) or hyperthyroidism (overacting), this hormonal imbalance can lead to hair loss or hair thinning in women.
- Therefore, women with thyroid related hormone conditions are more likely to experience female pattern baldness.
- Hormonal hair loss treatment will differ from person to person depending upon the underlying cause of the person.
- Doctors can address this hormonal hair loss problem in women with various treatments like prescription topical solutions or pills, hormone replacement therapy and specialized diets.
- Apart from these, women who are experiencing hormone related hair loss can also try natural hair-loss treatments like ayurvedic hair loss treatment that involves massaging the scalp with essential oils.
- Although, female hair loss or pattern baldness can become a permanent issue, using the right treatment can help you control hair loss and delay the condition.
Causes of Post-Menopausal Hair Loss in Women
Women develop certain changes in their bodies as they approach menopause stage. Hair loss is the major frustrating condition experienced by many women. It is estimated that 30% of women experience hair loss as they complete their menopause. The major concern is about how long the hair loss lasts and whether it stops or not. Several factors contribute to hair loss in women after menopause. The important causes of post-menopausal hair loss in women are discussed below.
- Low functioning of thyroid is the common cause for post-menopausal hair loss. The symptoms include dry skin, fatigue, hair loss and weight gain. These symptoms are same even in post-menopausal stage and contribute to hair thinning.
- Hair loss cannot be controlled in this case unless the underlying cause for low functioning of thyroid is recognized.
- Thyroid levels in the body can be determined through a simple blood test and the low levels can be corrected by the treatment suggested by the doctor.
- Once the thyroid levels are set, hair thinning and hair loss stops gradually.
- Women at post-menopause stage are very sensitive to hormonal changes and any change in hormonal levels contributes to hair loss.
- Hormone levels in women fluctuate widely during menopause causing increase or decrease in hormones, including testosterone hormone too. If the testosterone levels rise high, women experience hair thinning and loss.
- Female and male hormones in the body can be determined through blood test. Any change in the levels can be corrected by over-the-counter medications.
- After the hormone levels adjusted in the body, thinning hair or hair fall stops in post-menopausal women.
- Stress is another significant factor for post-menopausal hair loss. But, it takes a long time to halt hair loss caused by stress. There are many reasons for stress-related hair loss such as lost job, divorce, finance problems, death of a loved one, any other serious issue, etc. Every person handles stress differently and hence it is difficult to find out whether hair loss happens due to stress or any other factor.
- This is another factor that causes post-menopausal hair loss in women. Medications prescribed for heart diseases and any other ailments develop hair loss in women. If the underlying cause for hair loss is due to your medications, your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat the problem.The hair loss halts after the medications are taken regularly.
Post-menopause affects each woman differently and the problems that rise from it are varied. If you seem to experience heavy hair loss after menopause, you should immediately consult a doctor and seek the right treatment for the appropriate cause.
Hair Loss in Older Women
Although, baldness and hair loss is usually associated with men, it can also affect to women. While baldness or receding hair line usually occur on men, female hair loss usually characterized in thinning hair on the crown. Although, hair loss is not a life threatening disease, it can cause low self-esteem and affect a womanâ€™s physical appearance. Female hair loss treatment aimed at restoring or regrowing hair and finding natural ways to camouflage bald spots or thinning hair. Read on to know more about hair loss in older women.
Types of Hair Loss in Older Women:
- According to the â€œAmerican Osteopathic College of Dermatologyâ€, female pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, is one of the most common causes of excessive hair fall in older women. The condition generally occurs when womenâ€™s estrogen production drops after menopause, causing women to become more prone to the effects of male androgens, the hormone that causes hair loss.
- Apart from androgenetic alopecia, there are many other factors which can contribute to female hair loss. Some of the major causes include Iron or vitamin deficiencies, certain healthy conditions such as thyroid-related diseases, lupus and diabetes, and certain medications like antidepressants, medicines used for treating gout and chemotherapy, and taking too much of vitamin A supplements can trigger hair loss.
- Besides, wearing tight hairstyles like ponytails and braiding constantly can also cause hair loss in women; this kind of hair loss is called traction alopecia.
- Injuries on the scalp that is serious enough to damage hair follicles can also lead to tissue scarring and permanent hair loss.
- Alopecia areata is another major cause of hair loss in older women. Alopecia areata is considered as an auto-immune disorder, in which the immune system of the body attacks its own hair follicles mistakenly.
- Hair may begin to miniaturize or grow shorter if you are suffering from androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. Then, miniaturized hair will appear in varying diameters, resulting in noticeable thinning hair on the crown.
- If your hair loss is due to other factors, your hair loss may appear all over your head. Hair fall due to traction alopecia or scarring usually characterized by bald spots or patches, instead of thinning hair.
- Alopecia areata usually starts with one or two small, circular patches on the scalp.
- To diagnose your hair loss condition, your doctor may take your complete medical history and examine your scalp and hair.
- If the doctor feels that your hair loss is due to certain health conditions, you may undergo a skin biopsy, blood test or other diagnostic procedures to determine the root cause of your hair loss.
- Treatment for hair loss in older women will differ from person to person depending upon the underlying reason. If your hair loss is due to certain medications or health conditions, changing your medication or treating the condition can help you control hair loss even if it takes time to restore your thick, beautiful hair.
- If androgenetic alopecia is the root cause of your hair, your doctor may recommend you to use minoxidil, a topical medication for treating hair loss.
- Minoxidil comes in the form of cream or ointment, which can be applied directly on the scalp. It helps to slow down the hair loss rate by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that causes hair loss.
- Hair loss or bald spots can also be covered by wearing creative hairstyles, hair weaves, wigs or perms. This is probably the best option if you are looking for an instant way to camouflage your thinning hair or bald spots.
- If you are looking for a permanent solution, you can opt for a hair transplantation or surgery. However, this should be the last treatment option when all the other treatments are not effective for you.