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Hair Loss in Women is not so Uncommon
When you think about hair loss, you probably picture an older man with a shiny bald spot on the top of his head. While it is true that many men are affected by hair loss, women’s hair loss is very common as well.
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Female pattern loss and other types of hair loss may be more common than you think, and it is important to learn everything you can.
This article about women’s hair loss is one in a series of articles that cover hair loss and treatment options. Click these links to check out the other articles:
- What Are the Top Female Hair Restoration Options?
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options – Part 1
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options – Part 2
- Surgical Hair Restoration Options for Women
- Surgical Hair Restoration Options for Men
- Hair Loss: Thinning Hair in Men and Its Causes
- Understanding Men’s Hair Restoration Options
In this article, you’ll receive an overview of important information about hair loss in women including its causes and symptoms as well as treatment options and tips for prevention. If you want to learn how to keep your locks luscious, just keep reading!
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Basic Hair Loss Information
When it comes to hair loss, it can be either temporary or long-lasting. Temporary hair loss is usually due to an acute underlying cause such as extreme stress or illness – once the underlying issue is resolved, your hair may grow back. Unfortunately, there are many types of hair loss that do not resolve themselves quickly and, in some cases, the loss of hair may be permanent. Here is a quick overview of the different types of hair loss typically seen in women:
- Androgenetic alopecia
- Alopecia areata
- Alopecia totalis
- Traction alopecia
- Cicatricial alopecia
Also known as female pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss seen in both men and women. This type of hair loss is easy to identify because it produces an M-like pattern of recession around the hairline in men – for women, it usually results in thinning hair all over the head or as a widening of the part.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, causing premature death and shedding of the affected hairs. This type of hair loss usually manifests in the form of circular patches of hair loss over the scalp. Alopecia totalis is a type of alopecia areata. What makes it different is that this form of the disease results in a complete loss of hair on the scalp. Another type of alopecia areata is alopecia universalis which results in hair loss on the scalp as well as the body.
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Traction alopecia comes in many forms and it is caused by damage to the hair follicles from excess tensions or pulling. This type of hair loss is more common in women because they tend to wear tighter hairstyles than men. Cicatricial alopecia also tends to affect more women than men – particularly African American women – and it is related to scarring that commonly results from the use of harsh styling practices and the use of hot tools.
What Causes Women’s Hair Loss?
There are many different types of hair loss out there, some of which affect women at a much higher rate than men.
But what causes hair loss in women? Here are some of the top reasons:
- Protein deficiency
- Skin problems
- Tight hairstyles
- Hot tools
Whether it’s “that time of the month” or you’ve started taking a new kind of birth control, one of the more common complications of changing hormones is thinning hair or hair loss. During pregnancy, many women experience rapid hair growth but, unfortunately, hair tends to resume normal growth and shedding after delivery. If you’ve recently had a baby and you notice a great deal of hair loss, that could very well be the reason. Making changes to your birth control can also trigger hormone-induced shedding so think about whether you’ve gone off the pill or switched to a different brand.
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Many people underestimate the importance of a healthy diet not only for maintaining your ideal body weight, but for supporting all of the different systems in your body. You may not think about it, but your hair is actually made up of proteins so you need a lot of protein in your diet to maintain healthy hair growth. Taking certain medications can also trigger hair loss or slow hair growth. Examples may include blood pressure medications and certain antidepressants.
Not only can the things you put into your body (like food and medications) affect your hair, but so can outside influences. If you are having a particularly stressful week at work, or if you’re experiencing emotional upset in your personal life, it could very well affect your hair. Medical problems such as autoimmune disease or skin problems like psoriasis can also contribute to hair loss. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to pick out any one cause from a long list of possibilities. If you’re experiencing hair loss and you aren’t sure why, don’t forget to include stress as a potential factor.
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Finally, the products and treatments you use on your hair can contribute to hair loss. For example, if you frequently wear tight hairstyles such as ponytails and buns, the tension on your hair could slowly cause the hairs to come loose and fall out. Not only can this cause thinning along the hairline, but it could cause scarring that might make the hair loss permanent. Using hot tools like curling irons and straighteners can damage and weaken your hair, as can overuse of harsh processes like chemical straightening, perms, and relaxing procedures.
Now that you have a better understanding of the types and causes for hair loss in women, you may be wondering about hair restoration for women. Keep reading to learn about common treatment options as well as tips for preventing hair loss naturally.
Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options
When it comes to female hair loss, treatment is not quite so straightforward for women as it is for men. Androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss, is caused by a combination of genetics and the male hormone dihydrotestosterone. In women, the exact cause is unclear, though genetics do seem to play a role. Due to the hormone factor, doctors are reluctant to treat female pattern hair loss with the same drugs they use to treat male pattern baldness.
Though medications for hair loss are not always the best option for treating hair loss in women, there are some other options. Here is a quick overview of treatments for hair loss restoration in women:
Minoxidil Topical Treatment –
The only FDA-approved treatment for female hair loss, minoxidil comes in a 2% topical treatment that can be applied once a day to stimulate hair growth. This treatment is most effective for androgenetic alopecia and it is actually more effective for women than for me.
Androgen Receptor Inhibitors –
Drugs like Aldactone, Tagamet, and Cyproterone help to inhibit the androgen receptors which contribute to hair loss. As is true with any drug, however, these medications come with a risk for side effects.
Hormone Replacement Therapy –
If your hair loss is caused by menopause, or if there is another reason your estrogen levels are too low, hormone replacement therapy may help to reduce your hair loss.
Oral Contraceptives –
Birth control pills work by reducing the production of androgens in the ovaries so they can sometimes help with hair loss. Be mindful of potential side effects such as an increased risk for blood clots.
Finasteride (Propecia) –
First released in 1998, finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that works by inhibiting the production of DHT. This treatment is most effective for men but may work for some women.
Aside from topical and oral medications for hair loss, there are also surgical treatment options to consider. One option is to have tiny plugs of skin, each containing a few hairs, removed from your back or the sides of your hand for transplantation in the balding areas. This treatment option is usually reserved for permanent forms of hair loss and it can be both painful and expensive. Fortunately, there are some alternative treatment options available – keep reading to learn more.
What About Natural Hair Loss Prevention?
If you are wondering how to treat hair loss without drugs or surgery, you’ll be glad to know that there are several options. One of the best ways to prevent hair loss is to improve your diet and to eat more foods that support hair growth. Some of these foods include wild-caught fish, seeds, green tea, bone broth, and foods rich in protein and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars as well as excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol.
Aside from changing your diet to reverse hair loss, there are some natural supplements you can take to boost hair growth. Saw palmetto, for example, is a natural DHT blocker that can improve hair growth – pumpkin seed oil provides the same benefit. Fish oil may help to reduce inflammation in the scalp to promote hair growth and B-complex vitamins will help counteract the negative effects of stress on your hair. In cases of autoimmune disease or deficiency, zinc supplements may help as well.
It is completely natural to lose somewhere between 50 and 100 hairs per day – it’s just part of the process through which your hair grows and sheds. If you notice that your hair is thinning or you’ve started to develop a widened part or bald patch, however, it might be something more. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and to discuss treatment options. Good luck!