There are many possible causes of hair loss in women. Some of these are not serious and can be remedied by self-administered measures. Some are more serious and require diagnosis and treatment. You can find more information below.
Do women have hair loss?
There are many reasons that can cause hair loss in women . Everything from medical conditions to hormonal changes to stress can be the cause. Finding the root cause isn’t always easy, but there are some possibilities and things you can do.
Related article: All about hair loss
Regional hair loss in women
Hair loss in women can occur in different ways, depending on the cause. Over time, you may notice sudden hair loss or a gradual thinning. It may be helpful to keep a diary to track the changes you notice or the symptoms you are experiencing.
Some regional symptoms include:
- General thinning: Gradual thinning of the top of the head is the most common type of hair loss. It affects both men and women. While men tend to see the hairline decrease, women often notice that the clear areas are enlarged.
- Bald spots: They can be circular or irregular. They may resemble coins in size and often appear on the scalp. Just before hair loss, your skin may be itchy or sore.
- Shedding while combing: You may experience very sudden hair loss, especially after emotional or physical trauma. When washing or combing hair, it can fall out quickly and can lead to general thinning.
- Complete loss: In some medical conditions, especially medical treatments such as chemotherapy, you may notice hair loss suddenly and all over your body at the same time.
Types of hair loss in women
Alopecia simply means “hair loss” and is not contagious. There are several types that are caused by anything from genetic factors to hair care practices or anything that triggers the immune system to attack the hair follicles.
- Androgenetic alopecia: It is female pattern baldness or hair loss caused by genetic factors or family health history. This is the most common cause of hair loss in women.
- Alopecia areata: Also known as ringworm, this type is the sudden patchy hair loss on the head or body. It can be in just one place or in more than one region.
- Cicatricial alopecia: A group of conditions that cause irreversible hair loss through scarring. The hair is shed and the follicle location is replaced by scar tissue.
- Traumatic alopecia: It causes hair loss as a result of hair styling applications. It occurs after hot combs, blow dryers, straighteners or certain chemicals are used to dye or straighten the hair.
What causes hair loss in women?
The causes of hair loss in women are generally as follows:
Diseases that trigger hair loss in women
Some medical conditions can directly cause female hair loss through the disruption of hormones, such as thyroid problems. Skin problems such as ringworm or autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease can also trigger hair loss.
Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include:
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Addison’s disease
- celiac disease
- Like planus
- Trichorrhexis invaginata
Hair loss symptoms triggered by diseases in women
If your hair loss is due to an underlying condition, you may also experience a number of other symptoms such as:
- Hypothyroidism can cause anything from fatigue to weight gain, muscle weakness to joint swelling.
- Ringworm can cause scaly and painful gray or red patches on the scalp.
- Celiac disease can cause everything from mouth ulcers to headaches, skin rashes to anemia.
- Hodgkin’s disease can cause symptoms such as fever, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes.
To help pinpoint the cause, your doctor will take into account other symptoms you’re experiencing besides hair loss. This can include anything from a physical exam to blood tests and scalp biopsies.
Some conditions, such as celiac disease, can be inherited. If there is a condition in your family that causes hair loss, you should definitely inform your doctor.
Menopause and hormone imbalances
Women may experience hair loss due to decreased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during menopause. These changes also lead to symptoms such as menstrual cycle irregularity, dry skin , night sweats, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. This added stress on the body can also worsen hair loss. Some women may find that they lose their hair after stopping hormonal birth control pills. Why? Again, all kinds of hormonal changes, especially falling estrogen levels, can temporarily disrupt the life cycle of the hair.
Different types of stress can cause hair loss in women.
Hair loss may occur in women when they are under emotional or physical stress. Things like a death in the family, major surgery, or a serious illness can cause the body to stop certain processes, such as hair production. There is a lag of about three months between when a stressful event occurs and when you might see hair loss, so you may not notice the trigger right away. However, if your hair is thinning, you may think of different events or situations in your life that could cause significant stress. Stress-related hair loss is usually temporary. Most of the time, after a while, the hair starts to grow again.
Sudden but temporary things that cause hair loss in women
The second most common cause of hair loss is called telogen (TE). This is temporary and occurs when there is a change in the number of follicles that grow hair and are in a resting state. For example, women may lose their hair in the months after giving birth or in another stressful event. TE is usually caused by anything that can shock the body and disrupt the life cycle of the hair. There may be a significant delay of up to three months before you notice the effects of the change.
Possible triggers of TE hair loss include:
- High fever
- serious infection
- chronic disease
- emotional stress
- Diets, protein deficiency, eating disorders etc.
Taking certain medications such as retinoids, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also lead to TE. The good news is that this type of hair loss is typically reversible and eventually hair will start to grow back.
Hair loss and vitamin B deficiency in women
Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can also cause hair loss or thinning of hair in women. Some dermatologists believe that not eating enough red meat can affect hair loss. Red meat and other animal foods are rich in iron, a mineral that promotes hair and body growth. Women are already prone to iron deficiency due to blood loss during menstruation, so not getting enough iron in the diet can lead to a deficiency. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can also cause vitamin deficiencies and thinning hair. Deficiencies thought to affect hair in particular include zinc, the amino acid L-lysine, B-6 and B-12.
How is hair loss in women?
Hair loss caused by stress or hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause, may not require any treatment. Instead, hair loss will likely stop on its own once the body gets used to it.
Nutrient deficiencies usually do not require medical treatment beyond supplements unless the deficiency is caused by an underlying health condition. Any medical condition that causes hair loss should be treated directly to address the entire condition, not just its symptoms.
However, there are a number of possible remedies and treatments for hair loss caused by female pattern baldness and other alopecia. You may need to use one or a combination of treatments for months/years to see full results.
Although not as widely used as in previous years, hormone replacement therapy can be a treatment for androgenic alopecia. This treatment focuses on providing the hormone estrogen to support decreased hormone levels. Women of childbearing age should talk to their doctor if they are using this medicine and also want to take oral contraception.
Spironolactone works to treat hair loss in women by affecting hormones. Specifically, it binds to androgen receptors and reduces the body’s processing of testosterone. Not all researchers agree that this treatment works effectively. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not labeled it as a treatment for hair loss in women.
Topical tretinoin is sometimes used as a combination therapy for androgenic alopecia. It is important to use such drugs under the guidance of your doctor. Sometimes serious side effects can be encountered.
Women experiencing hair loss due to alopecia areata may consider treatment with corticosteroids injected into more than one area of the affected area at the doctor’s recommendation. Hair growth can be noticed within four weeks and the treatment can be repeated every four to six weeks. Side effects of injections include skin atrophy or thinning of the scalp.
Anthraline is both safe and effective in women with alopecia areata. It can be applied at home once a day, starting as little as five minutes or for as long as an hour. After the application, the scalp should be rinsed with cold water and cleaned with soap. New hair growth may be evident in two to three months.
Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.
As a result
If hair loss in women is more than normal, it is best to find the cause and start treatment sooner. Certain medications the doctor recommends can help address certain types of hair loss. In some cases other health conditions can cause hair loss, it is important to consult a doctor. You should talk to your family doctor or a dermatologist about your symptoms so they can diagnose the cause of your hair loss and create a treatment plan with you.