Hair Loss for Women

Nearly every woman wants to look in the mirror and see a head of full, luxuriant, shiny hair. Yet for some, maybe you, it's a dream that may never come true. Often the issue isn't so much thin hair as thinning hair. Female hair loss is not as rare an occurrence as you might think. Of the 50 million Americans who experience noticeable hair loss, about 20 million are women. That means that two out of every five people are losing their hair are women.

androgenetic alopecia

Hair loss is typically noticed where you part your hair, but women tend to lose their hair gradually over the entire scalp rather than in concentrated areas. Female hair loss is actually thinning of hair density. Where hair used to grow in clumps of three to five strands, you may now find one or two. Most female hair loss is caused by androgenetic alopecia. For a few women however, hair loss – sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent, and often preventable – may be due to a multitude of health and environmental factors:

Factors Affecting Hair Loss

Medical Disorders: High fevers that accompany certain illnesses – scarlet fever and pneumonia are two examples – can cause temporary hair loss. Hypothyroidism may cause gradual hair thinning that can be reversed with medication. Polycystic ovarian disease, lupus, arthritis and other chronic ailments may also be underlying reasons for hair loss.

Certain Medications: Hair loss can be a side effect of some medications such as: antibiotics, anticonvulsants, cardiovascular drugs called 'beta blockers,' tranquilizers and cancer chemotherapy. Excessive amounts of vitamin A can also cause your hair to thin. (Don't stop taking a physician prescribed medication because you suspect it's causing your hair to fall out. Consult your doctor for more information). In addition, street drugs (such as cocaine) and anabolic steroids can lead to hair loss.

traction alopecia, friction alopecia

Hair Care: Improper or excessive bleaching, dyeing, or permanent waving can lead to hair loss due to breakage, as can over teasing and excessive straightening with hot irons. Even too much sunshine can hurt your hair.

Traction Alopecia: This condition is the result of ponytails, braids or cornrows that are pulled too tight causing hair to come out by the roots, and in some cases stay out for good. A similar condition, called friction alopecia, can be caused by constantly wearing snug-fitting hats or wigs.

Pregnancy and Oral Contraceptives: It's quite common to shed hair in excess amounts some months after giving birth while the body's hormonal balance is working its way back to normal. Similarly, you may shed more hair than usual when you cease taking birth control pills.

Nutrition: Crash diets, particularly those low in protein, may result in thinning hair within a couple of months. Iron deficiency anemia, one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the world, often causes dry hair and abnormal hair loss.

Alopecia Areata: The second most prominent cause of hair loss, this puzzling condition causes hair to fall out in clumps. Quite often alopecia areata follows a serious personal loss or particularly stressful life event. In most people, most of the hair lost for this reason eventually grows back.

female hair loss

Facts About Hair Growth and Loss

  • Hair loss is a daily and normal occurrence
  • The average adult head has about 100,000 individual shafts of hair
  • You shed from 50 to 125 hairs each day

At any one time 85 to 90 percent of the hair on your head is growing, advancing in length by up to one inch per month, and it keeps growing for a period lasting from two to six years. When the growth phase ends, the hair shaft begins a two to six-month phase of resting and then shedding. Only 10 to 15 percent of your hair is in the resting phase at any one time; when it sheds it does so randomly.

Camouflaging Hair Loss

  • Savvy styling and proper use of mousses, shampoos, perms and dyes can make hair appear fuller. Caution: Excessive use of the stronger hair care chemicals can weaken hair.
  • Wigs and hairpieces hide everything, but choose carefully. They vary in price and quality. The best wigs use human hair and are custom designed and fitted for you.
  • Powdered eye shadow applied to the scalp provides a darkened background that can disguise thinning hair.
  • Hair weaves and fusions are alternatives to wigs.
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