Potential Causes of Hair Loss In Women
● Hormonal Changesx
● Alopecia Areata
● Alopecia Totalis
● Alopecia Universalis
● Androgenetic Alopecia (Female Pattern Hair Loss)
● Scarring Alopecia
● Traction Alopecia
● Tinea Capitis
● Chemotherapy/Radiation Hair Products
Hair Loss In Women
You wouldn’t guess it from the male-oriented ads for hair-growth products, but about two-thirds of women also face hair loss at some point in life. Not surprisingly, many find it as alarming as men do — perhaps even more so. Anyone — including men, women and children —can experience hair loss. But baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp and can be the result of heredity, certain medications or an underlying medial condition. For many, the loss is permanent. But some causes of hair loss in women are treatable. Seeing your physician can help you get to the root of the problem.
The medical term for hair loss is Alopecia. The most common type is known as androgenetic Alopecia or pattern baldness. It’s typically permanent and can be attributed to heredity. In fact, about 95% of hair loss from the scalp is due to your inheritance.
Physical or emotional stress can trigger hair loss whether people are predestined to lose hair or not. When stress causes hair loss in women who do not have hereditary hair loss, the effects are not usually permanent. But in women who do have hereditary hair less, stress can actually speed up the process. The stress experienced must be quite severe before it leads to hair loss. Examples of severe stress are loss of a loved one, strenuous sports, training, severe illness or drastic weight loss, surgeries, and emotional stress. The body simply shuts down production of hair during periods of stress since it is not necessary for survival and instead devotes its energies toward repairing vital body structures. A recent high fever, severe flu or surgery, you may notice you have less hair 4 weeks to 3 months after an illness or surgery. These conditions cause hair to shift rapidly into a resting phase, meaning you’ll see less new hair growth. A normal amount of hair typically will appear after the growth phase resumes. This then means that the total hair loss and re-growth cycle can last 6 months or possibly longer when induced by physical or emotional stress. There are some health conditions which may go undetected that can contribute to hair loss. These include anemia or low blood count and thyroid abnormalities. Both of these conditions can be detected by a simple, inexpensive blood test.
Age and Hormones
Most people naturally experience some hair loss, as they get older. But age, changing hormones and heredity cause some to lose more hair than others. The result can be partial or total baldness, know as Alopecia. Men are far more likely than women to have hair loss and baldness as they age. “Male-pattern baldness” is the receding hairline and hair loss on top of the head. It’s typically genetic. But “female-pattern baldness” — also inherited —that can cause modest to significant hair loss in women as they age. The hair loss can first become apparent in women by ages 25 to 30. Female-pattern baldness starts with the replacement hairs becoming progressively finer and shorter. They can also become almost transparent. Usually, the hair loss is far less prominent than it is in men. It also occurs in a different pattern. Most women first experience hair thinning and hair loss where they part their hair and on the top of the head, but don’t have a receding hairline. About 50% of women who experience hair loss have female-pattern baldness. Unfortunately, it’s often permanent —just as in men.
Alopecia is a common disease that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere. Alopecia occurs in males and females of all ages, but onset most often occurs in childhood. There are threes types of Alopecia: Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.
What Is Alopecia Areata?
Another type of Alopecia, known as Alopecia Areata, it is usually temporary. It affects approximately 2% of the population and can involve hair loss on the scalp or the body. Its specific cause is unknown. With Alopecia Areata, baldness usually occurs in small, round, smooth patches. Hair loss may be on the scalp only, or body hair may be lost as well. Alopecia areata is classified as an autoimmune disease, but the cause of it is unknown. In fact, people who develop this type of baldness are generally in good health. A family history of Alopecia areata makes you more likely to develop it. Unlike Androgenetic Alopecia, hair will generally grow back. But it may take several years.
What Triggers Alopecia Areata To Start Or Stop?
Current research suggests that something triggers the immune system to suppress the hair follicle. It isn’t known what this trigger is, and whether it comes from outside the body like a virus or from inside. Recent research indicates that some people have genetic markers that increase both their susceptibility to develop Alopecia areata, as well as the degree of disease severity.
Is Alopecia Areata Hereditary?
Yes, heredity plays a role. In one out of five persons with Alopecia Areata, someone else in the family also has it. Those who develop Alopecia Areata for the first time after the age of thirty years have less likelihood that another family member will have it. Those who develop their first patch of Alopecia Areata before the age of thirty have a higher possibility that another family member will also have it. Alopecia Areata often occurs in families whose members have had Asthma, Hay Fever, Atopic Eczema, or other autoimmune diseases such as Thyroid disease, early-onset Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, Vitiigo, Pernicious Anemia or Addison’s disease.
What Other Parts Of The Body Are Affected?
In some people, the nails develop stippling that looks as if a pin had made rows of tiny dents. In a few, the nails are severely distorted. However, other than the hair and occasionally the nails, no other part of the body is affected.
Involves hair loss over the entire scalp. The affected hair follicles become very small, drastically slowing down production. The hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. Hair growth may occur without treatment and even after many years.
Indicated by hair loss of the entire body.
Androgenetic Alopecia (female pattern hair loss)
This is the most common type of hair loss seen in women. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parent’s side of the family. The technical term Androgenetic Alopecia is where the hair is genetically programmed to gradually fall out, occurring in 1 out of 5 women. This condition is also known as Female Pattern Hair Loss. This is seen as hair thinning predominately over the top and sides of the head. It affects approximately 1/3 of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, it occurs more commonly between the ages of twenty and forty-five, although it may begin as early as puberty. True hair loss occurs when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125 hairs. At menopause, the level of estrogen usually declines which is why the effects of Female Pattern Hair Loss are often seen among this age group. It’s believed that this type of hair loss is caused by an inherited sensitivity in the hair follicles to the male hormone testosterone. Yes, women do have testosterone in their bodies, however the female hormone estrogen usually protects the female body against the effects of testosterone. In Female Pattern Hair Loss, testosterone in the scalp break down and one of its by-products, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), interferes with the hair follicle, causing it to atrophy (resulting in smaller hairs of less pigment), and finally, to wither and die, when it finally produces no hair at all. Female Pattern Hair Loss generally occurs in a woman slightly later in age than it occurs in a man. Where Male Pattern Baldness usually affects the hairline, women generally experience an overall thinning across the entire scalp.
Signs and Symptoms
Androgenetic Alopecia may be experienced as early as the teen years. Women with Androgenetic Alopecia usually have hair loss limited to thinning at the front, sides or crown. Androgenetic Alopecia is caused by heredity. Although it’s most common among men, it can also affect women. A history of Androgenetic Alopecia on either side of the family increases the risk of balding. Heredity also affects the age at which hair loss can begin and the speed, pattern and extent of your baldness. Complete baldness rarely occurs in women.
Occurs when scar tissue replaces destroyed normal tissue on the scalp and can be caused by any number of things such as burns, infectious agents or diseases such as Scleroderma, Lupus Erythematosus, etc. Because normal tissue is replaced and the hair cannot grow through scar tissue, Scarring Alopecia is permanent.
Is where the hair may temporarily or permanently stop growing in certain areas on the head. Traction Alopecia is usually caused by continuous and excessive stress on particular hairs. For instance, if you continuously style your hair in a ponytail, bun, braid or in cornrows, the hairs with the most tension may gradually stop growing, resulting in hair loss. If this type of traction and hair loss continues for an excessive period of time, then the hair loss may become permanent. Generally, however, a change in hairstyle that reduces the traction on the hair and hair follicle is all that is required in order to reverse the process. This is especially common in African-American females who wear tight braiding or cornrow hairstyles.
Another version of Traction Alopecia, which is often referred to as “Hair Pulling Disorder”, an impulse control disorder, when a person compulsively pulls out strands of hair in distinct patches on the scalp. Some individuals also pull out hairs from the eyebrows and eyelashes as well. Trichotillomaia is often caused by an undue amount of anxiety, stress and depression. It most commonly occurs among young children, adolescents and women. It generally affects twice as many females as males. The treatment for Trichotillomania often involves behavioral therapy or psychiatric help where an antidepressant may be prescribed.
Is another name for Ringworm, which appears on the scalp. Tinea Capitis is highly contagious and may spread throughout an entire family, school or kindergarten. It can also be passed from animals to humans as well as between people. The main symptoms or signs of Tinea Capitis is scaling and reddened in a round or uneven area of stubbled hair loss. This is where the tinea is digesting the keratin of the hair. These patches of hair loss slowly expand as the tinea spreads. The most commonly used treatment for Ringworm is an anti-fungal agent, which is taken once a day for a period of between four and twelve weeks. Nizoral shampoo (Ketaconazole 2%) may occasionally be prescribed in addition to oral treatment to reduce the surface scaling.
Chemotherapy Drugs & Radiation Treatments
Drugs designed to poison cancer cells also poison the hair follicles and will often result in total hair loss. Hair loss from chemotherapy treatments will start approximately 2-3 weeks after the first dose of chemotherapy, but wont result in total hair loss until 1-2 months have elapsed. Hair loss is reversible and will be back in about 3-4 months after the last chemotherapy dose. Hair on the head is most commonly affected. The scalp may become tender and hair that is still growing may become dull and dry. The hair may grow back thinner and perhaps a different color but will eventually return to its original thickness and shade.
Chemicals used for dying, tinting, bleaching, straightening or perming can cause hair to become damaged and break off if they are overused or used incorrectly can damage the hair follicle, which may in turn cause permanent damage. Excessive hairstyling or hairstyles that pull your hair too tightly also can cause some hair loss.
Other causes of temporary hair loss include:
● Physical stress: surgery, illness, anemia and rapid weight change.
● Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
● Medications: Certain drugs used to treat gout, or arthritis may cause hair loss in some people. Taking birth control pills also may result in hair loss for some women. But other prescription drugs, such as blood thinners, gout medications, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, can also cause hair loss. So can high does of vitamin A.
● Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills and menopause.
● Poor nutrition: If you get inadequate protein or iron in your diet or are poorly nourished in other ways, you can experience hair loss. Fad diets, crash diets and certain illnesses, such as bowel disease or eating disorders can cause poor nutrition.
● Diet: Too little protein in your diet can lead to hair shedding. So can too little iron.
● Disease: Diabetes, Lupus, overactive or under active thyroid can cause hair loss.
● Infancy: Newborn babies often lose hair during the first few months of life. This baby hair is eventually replaced by more permanent hair. It’s also common for babies from 3 to 6 months of age to lose a patch of hair on the back of their heads from rubbing against mattresses, playpens and car seats. Hair will grow back once a baby begins to spend more time sitting up.