Causes For Hair Loss In Women
Hair loss is a problem that many women face at some point in their lives. It can be particularly distressing when you are young and see the first signs of thinning hair. If your hair falls out easily, you may have inherited male-pattern baldness. It is also possible that you may be suffering from an underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease or low iron levels.
Women who experience hair loss often have fine, thinning hair, which is more prone to breakage than thick, coarse hair. Any trauma can lead to breakage and subsequent thinning of the scalp's protective outer layer (cortex). This causes hairs to enter the resting phase before falling out and being replaced by new ones.
Causes for hair loss in women are:
1. Hormonal changes
Hormones are naturally present in the body and help regulate and control many bodily functions. When there is an imbalance in these hormones, it can lead to several health issues, including hair loss. The most common cause of hormonal hair loss is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can also cause irregular menstrual periods, acne, weight gain, and fertility problems.
This can cause hair loss in women at any age, but it tends to be more common in females who have gone through childbirth or menopause. Changes in hormone levels affect sebum production, an oily substance that keeps the scalp moisturized and stops it from drying out. A dry scalp results in dry skin and dandruff, which can cause inflammation of the scalp and make it difficult for your hair to grow properly. With time, this leads to thinning and shedding hair strands with each washing session, which causes bald patches on your head.
2. Androgenic alopecia
Although there are many possible causes of hair loss, the most common is androgenic alopecia (AGA). This type of hair loss is also known as female pattern baldness or FPHL. This type of male pattern baldness includes a receding hairline and moderate thinning of the crown area. For most people with this, the hair follicle shrinks. The base of the hair follicle becomes smaller and smaller over time, so even though new hairs grow in the area, they don't grow out as far as healthy hairs do.
AGA often develops slowly over time — you may not notice any changes for years. As your hair becomes thinner, you may see more scalp in your part or at the back of your head. Eventually, you might notice that more than half of your scalp is visible when you look in a mirror or brush your hair.
3. Poor diet
A poor diet leads to nutritional deficiencies that make your body weak and susceptible to diseases which can result in premature baldness or thinning of hair. This is especially true for women who follow very restrictive diets, such as those that exclude entire food groups or severely limit calories.
A poor diet consisting of junk food or processed foods will deprive your body of essential nutrients like iron, zinc, etc., necessary for growth. Also, if you have a vitamin deficiency, then it can cause various other health problems, including early onset baldness in women.
Stress is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Stress can also cause hair thinning and bald spots in some people. This means less hair will protect the scalp from the elements and make it look shiny and healthy. Stress comes from many different sources, such as work, family life, and relationships with friends or loved ones. It can also be caused by health problems or everyday worries about money, school, or work.
5. Family history
Hereditary hair loss in women is often inherited from their parents. If you have one parent with diffuse thinning, you have a 50 percent chance of developing the same condition. If both parents had hair loss, there's a 75 percent chance you'll experience it too. Genetics is the most common cause of female pattern baldness (FPB).
If your mother or sister has FPB, you're more likely to have it, too — especially if she was young when she started losing her hair. Sometimes there's no family history at all; this type of FPB is called "non-genetic" or "sporadic" FPB and may be related to an unknown factor in your environment or diet that triggers your body's immune system response against its hair follicles (the tiny organ structures that produce hair).
In some cases, a medication can cause hair loss as a side effect. For example, drugs used to treat depression or epilepsy may cause you to lose your hair. Other drugs that cause hair loss include diuretics, antibiotics, and antihistamines. Medication can cause either temporary or permanent hair loss, depending on the drug and how long you took it. Medications linked with hair loss include birth control pills and antidepressants such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine).
Anemia is characterized by lower than normal blood hemoglobin levels and can be caused by iron deficiency or underlying medical conditions such as celiac disease and thyroid disease. Anemia will often result in pale skin and fatigue but may also cause hair loss if it goes untreated for long periods. It's essential to see your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms associated with anemia so that they can diagnose and treat any underlying causes before further damage occurs to your body's organs and tissues.
A woman's body produces more estrogen during pregnancy than at any other time in her life. Estrogen regulates your body's production of keratinocytes — cells that make up your hair shafts. When your body makes too much estrogen during pregnancy, it can cause an increase in the shedding of these cells, leading to temporary thinning or complete baldness on your scalp. This temporary hair loss usually disappears after giving birth but may return after breastfeeding ends if you're still producing too much estrogen.
9. Cancer treatment
Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, is known to cause hair loss. It’s more common in women than men and can happen at any age. Chemotherapy can affect the body’s ability to make new cells, including hair follicles. Radiation therapy affects the cells in your scalp and can trigger permanent hair loss.
Ways to treat hair loss in women
1. Choose a chemotherapy regimen that has less risk of causing hair loss
If you have breast cancer, ask your doctor about taxanes (docetaxel or paclitaxel) and trastuzumab (Herceptin). These drugs have fewer aftereffects than other chemo drugs. Start taking specific vitamins before your first dose of chemo so they can build up in your system before you start treatment. Ask your doctor if vitamin E or biotin is right for you. These vitamins should help protect against some reactions during chemotherapy, including hair loss. They also may help with fatigue and nausea. Talk with your doctor about which vitamins might be best for you before starting treatment with chemotherapy.
2. Change your diet
If you're losing hair due to an unhealthy diet, then changing your eating habits can help. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve the health of your hair by providing essential nutrients that promote growth. Some vitamins and minerals found in food are also essential too. Examples include vitamin A, which promotes strong roots; vitamin B12, which helps prevent anemia; and iron, which increases red blood cell production in the body — all of which are important for healthy growth.
3. Regular exercise
Exercise can help reduce stress and boost energy levels, which may contribute to hair loss. Regular exercise also boosts blood flow and improves circulation to the scalp, where new hair growth originates. However, excessive heat from exercising may damage follicles producing new hairs so try not to do strenuous physical activity during hot weather or after using heating tools like blow dryers or curling irons on your hair as this can cause damage to the hair.
4. Hair transplantation
Hair transplantation is one of the most effective methods of treating female-pattern baldness. This surgical procedure involves moving healthy hair follicles from the back of your scalp to areas with lost hair. It is an effective treatment for women with limited hair loss or thinning hair around their temples and crowns.
Minoxidil is available as a topical foam or solution that you apply directly to your scalp twice a day. It can help regrow some lost hair and prevent further loss. However, it doesn't work well for everyone and may cause unwanted side effects such as skin irritation or itching.
Dutasteride (Avodart) works like minoxidil to promote new growth in people with FPHL. It is, however not recommended for women who plan to become pregnant or who are pregnant because it can harm an unborn baby.
6. Biotin supplements
While taking Biotin, a B vitamin, the hair grows, encouraging cell reproduction. It is found in foods like salmon, eggs, nuts, and soybeans. You can also take biotin supplements to increase your intake of this critical nutrient.
You are not powerless to prevent hair loss; you have the power of knowledge. Immediately addressing the causes listed above will help you to keep and restore your hair health. If your hair has been falling out consistently, don't lose hope yet; act now by targeting the underlying causes and you may be able to put an end to this condition for good.
You can also schedule an online consultation with Dr. Arocha and discuss potential hair transplant options designed for women.