Not everyone realizes that hair loss affects women as well as men. Although men are more likely to experience hair loss, women are more affected by the results. Hair loss in women can be devastating and strongly impact their self-esteem. Women suffering from hair loss number about 21 million in the United States and 60% will see noticeable hair loss by age 60.
Many women falsely believe there aren’t treatment options for them, and even though they long to address their hair loss, they don’t know how or where to start. Fortunately, women have many treatment options.
What causes hair loss in women?
Women most commonly experience non-permanent thinning hair due to stress, medical issues/procedures, pregnancies, and menopause. Some hair loss is a normal part of the aging process.
It can be difficult to determine the cause of hair loss, but you don’t have to figure it out alone. Ask a dermatologist to discuss possible treatment. The most common reasons for women losing hair include:
Genetics can play a roll in hair loss in women. Known as genetic androgenetic alopecia, some women experience permanent hair loss as a result of their genetics. Instead of experiencing a receding hairline, temples, or whirl, they will see a widening part and thinning hair diffused throughout the scalp. If the patient has female family members who experienced hair loss by a certain age, that may indicate she has genetic hair loss. Women with this type of hair loss have seen great success with topical treatments containing minoxidil and hair transplants.
If the patient is a good candidate for a female hair transplant, Dr. Arthur will carefully analyze her hair loss pattern to determine appropriate donor areas and necessary graft locations. About one in twenty women have healthy donor areas for hair transplants and have had great success with the NeoGraft Hair Transplant procedure.
For other women, hair transplants aren’t the best option. If a female patient isn’t a candidate for hair transplants, she can take advantage of medical-grade hair products, light therapy, PRP treatment, or new hairstyles that camouflage thinning hair.
When women experience extreme physical or emotional stress, hair that was naturally growing or resting quickly shifts to the shedding phase. Women may experience hair loss up to 3-6 months after the stressful event, but hair will naturally return on its own once the stressor has been removed. In the meantime, try to relieve stress as much as possible by exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. Consider talk therapy to get the support you need.
Poor Health Choices (diet)
Diet plays a critical role in hair loss. Dramatic, sudden weight loss can stress the body to the point of excessive hair shedding that lasts up to 6 months, even if the weight loss is healthy. Some weight loss diets result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Iron deficiency (anemia) is one of the most common triggers of hair shedding in women and birth control is often the culprit. Consider taking a daily iron supplement.
Especially common for vegans and vegetarians, you may also be deficient in protein. If the body isn’t getting enough protein, it will start to ration the protein by stopping normal hair growth. You will notice thinning hair about 2-3 months after you’ve stopped getting enough protein.
On the other hand, overdosing on Vitamin A, either in the form of supplements or in some medications, can cause hair thinning. Daily intake of Vitamin A is 5,000 (IU). If this is the cause of your hair loss, it can be easily remedied by halting the excessive intake of Vitamin A.
A lack of B Vitamins may also contribute to hair loss. Make sure you’re getting adequate Vitamin B, either through supplementation or diet changes.
During menopause, women have a significant drop in the hormones that produce hair cells. The imbalance of hormones may activate the male hormone receptors (androgen), shrinking the hair follicle and causing the hair to fall out. The normal aging process for women begins in their late 50s or 60s. Hair loss at this stage is best addressed using scarves, wigs, or a new hairstyle to camouflage hair loss. Always use high-quality hair products to protect your remaining hair.
Common among women, harsh hairstyles can trigger hair loss. Hair extensions, frequent dying, heat-styling such as straightening or curling, hair weaves, and tight ponytails, buns, or braids can all cause hair thinning. They can affect the hair root so the hair doesn’t grow back. Be gentle when styling your hair, use moisturizing conditioner after every hair wash, apply chemical-free hair products, and limit your use of heat-generating products to only once a week.
Medical Illness /Medication
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes the patient to pull out their hair. It affects 4 times as many women as men. Antidepressants and behavior modification therapy are the best treatment options.
Other medical-related conditions and medications such as such as psoriasis, hypothyroidism, overactive immune system (alopecia areata), chemotherapy, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause hair loss. Antidepressants and blood thinners including methotrexate, lithium, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, some antidepressants, and anabolic steroids can cause hair loss. If you can’t stop taking medication, talk with your doctor about switching to a different kind.
Pregnancy & Child Birth
Hair shedding is typical after giving birth. It can be equated to an extreme physical stress. This loss of hair is only temporary and normal hair growth will return in a few months. Discontinuing or switching birth control pills can have this same effect. Talk with your doctor about a different prescription.